Wolverhampton manager Mick McCarthy refused to let his side rest on their laurels after they recorded their best start to a season for 59 years.
McCarthy’s men have won seven of their eight league games and they maintained their three-point lead at the top of the Championship with a 2-0 victory against Bristol City at Molineux on Saturday thanks to goals from Michael Kightly and Sylvan Ebanks-Blake.
England Under-21 midfielder Kightly opened the scoring after 17 minutes when his looping free-kick from the touchline deceived the City defence and nestled in the top corner. Ebanks-Blake made sure of all three points with an overhead kick in the 68th minute, but McCarthy insisted there was no chance he would ease up on his players.
“I demand that from them. The ones who don’t put it in don’t play,” he said. “It has been a really pleasing start. The best I have ever had. If we had not scored that second goal, it would have been a nervy finish but it should have been two earlier than it was.”
“We had enough chances and weren’t clinical. We weren’t calm enough to pick the right pass or shot,” he said.
Birmingham, 2-1 winners at Cardiff, remain hot on the heels of local rivals Wolverhampton as Alex McLeish’s team aim for a quick return to the Premier League after last season’s relegation.
Scotland international James McFadden put Birmingham ahead in the fifth minute when he punished some woeful defending to poke home Quincy Owusu-Abeyie’s cross.
Former Arsenal star Owusu-Abeyie doubled Birmingham’s advantage with a stunning 20-yard strike four minutes before the interval. Cardiff striker Ross McCormack rifled home in the 86th minute but it was too late to save a point for the hosts.
“We defended well against some real pressure and to score twice from only three shots on goal was a bonus,” McLeish said. “I’d really prefer us to go at teams rather than sit back and soak up the pressure. But we defended very well and I don’t think Cardiff had many clear-cut chances.”
Reading boss Steve Coppell saluted Stephen Hunt after the Republic of Ireland winger inspired his side’s 4-0 win over Swansea. Hunt scored once and was a constant danger at the Madejski Stadium as his brother Noel also scored and Kevin Doyle added two more.
“Stephen was fantastic, he has no respect for his opponents,” Coppell said. “He showed that in the Premier League last season and he has continued in the same way.”
“It just doesn’t matter who he is up against. He plays flat out in an old fashioned way, and the fans love that,” he said. “This was a good win for us and obviously we are very pleased with the home form at the moment. We must continue in the same way, though.”
Fourth-placed Preston lost 3-1 at local rivals Burnley despite taking the lead through Barry Nicholson’s 22nd minute goal. Joey Gudjonsson leveled 11 minutes later and goals from Steven Caldwell and Chris Eagles killed off Preston, who had Callum Davidson dismissed for deliberate handball in the 70th minute.
QPR’s 100 percent home record was ended by Derby, who won 2-0 at Loftus Road to claim their first away success since May last year. Martin Albrechtsen put Paul Jewell’s side in front 10 minutes from the end and Emanuel Villa confirmed the victory nine minutes later. Elsewhere, Sheffield Wednesday came from a goal down to beat Charlton 2-1, while their city rivals Sheffield United defeated Watford 2-1.