Championship football this past weekend produced some fascinating encounters with early hints of yet another competitive campaign. Heavyweights like Swansea City, Aston Villa and West Bromwich Albion clinched marginal victories where the latter produced a seven-goal thriller at Carrow Road against Norwich City as the game ended 4-3 in favour of the Baggies.
Villa, too, sealed all three points with a 90th-minute winner from Birkir Bjarnason to ensure a 3-2 win over newly promoted Wigan Athletic, but Stoke City, the prime promotion contenders, had a disappointing draw against minnows Brentford.
Derby County suffered the heaviest defeat of the weekend as Frank Lampard’s men were beaten convincingly by Marcelo Bielsa’s rejuvenated Leeds. The Whites picked up a 4-1 win at Pride Park and made an early statement of sorts.
Players from different outfits exhibited plenty of individual excellence and we have shortlisted three of them who played a crucial role this past weekend.
#3 Marek Rodak
A less familiar name in Championship circuit. However, this 21-year-old Slovakian youth international delivered an inspiring show in goal for newly promoted Rotherham United who claimed a sensational 1-0 victory over Ipswich Town as Michael Smith found a 90th-minute winner for The Millers.
Rodak, on loan from Fulham, made a number of decisive stops to frustrate the opponents and showed enough confidence between the sticks throughout the game.
The ‘keeper has a very bright future ahead of him and could become a household name if he keeps on delivering such exemplary displays week in week out.
#2 Jay Rodriguez
West Brom had a nervy start to their Championship campaign upon relegation from Premier League last season but returned to winning ways in dramatic fashion.
Darren Moore’s side claimed a 4-3 victory on the road against Norwich City and Jay Rodriguez was instrumental in game. He converted a spot-kick to equalise just on the half-hour mark and gave his side the lead a couple of minutes into the second half with a long-range effort.
Rodriguez did not have many touches but played a poacher’s role inside the box, terrorising the Norwich defence with his clever runs and positioning.
#1 Kemar Roofe
Roofe was arguably the Championship’s performer of the week with two stunning goals at Pride Park against heavyweights Derby County.
The iconic Marcelo Bielsa, new Whites boss, opted to start Roofe over big-money recruit Patrick Bamford in a ‘number 9’ role and the player responded to manager’s trust with a match-winning display. His glancing header beat past Scott Carson to restore the lead in the first half and a stunning finish following some exquisite footwork and close control for his second and Leeds’ third pretty much put the tie to bed.
If Roofe continues in the same vein then Bamford will find it hard to break regularly into the first team.