Power Rankings: Leeds United, Barnsley and Sheffield Wednesday on the rise

Middlesbrough's Albert Adomah celebrates with team-mates after scoring his side's first goal during the Sky Bet Championship match at the Riverside Stadium, Middlesbrough.

Middlesbrough's Albert Adomah celebrates with team-mates after scoring his side's first goal during the Sky Bet Championship match at the Riverside Stadium, Middlesbrough.

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The festive period brought joy and sadness, depending on which football club you support, and a short break from the Power Rankings.

We have looked back over Christmas and adjusted our rankings, although there should be little surprise over who takes top spot.

Joe Lolley celebrates his opening goal for Huddersfield against Bolton Wanderers. (Picture: Bruce Rollinson)

Joe Lolley celebrates his opening goal for Huddersfield against Bolton Wanderers. (Picture: Bruce Rollinson)

Here are this week’s Yorkshire Post Power Rankings:

READ MORE - How do they compare? Pre-Christmas Power Rankings

1) Middlesbrough (-)

Last six games: WDWWWW

Chris Herd battles in the air with Conor Grant of a resurgant Doncaster Rovers. (Picture: James Williamson)

Chris Herd battles in the air with Conor Grant of a resurgant Doncaster Rovers. (Picture: James Williamson)

What a festive period it has been for Aitor Karanka’s Middlesbrough. Despite their game against Blackburn Rovers being postponed, they are top of the Championship and looking increasingly likely to capture the title at the end of the season. That postponement was preceeded by a 3-0 win against the then-undefeated Brighton and has been followed by comfortable wins against Sheffield Wednesday and Derby County. A game in-hand, four points clear - most Middlesbrough fans could not have asked for a better Christmas present.

READ MORE - Half-term report for Yorkshire’s Championship clubs

2) Doncaster Rovers (-)

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Doncaster Rovers’ tricky start to the season feels like a lifetime ago. Resurgent under Darren Ferguson, Rovers have lost only one of their last six games and have climbed to sixth in League One in the process. Victories against Oldham and Southend in their last two matches allows Ferguson’s side to forget a defeat against Scunthorpe on Boxing Day. They are now 11th, only six points off the play-off places, a genuinely stunning turnaround.

READ MORE - Half-term report for Yorkshire’s League One and League Two clubs

3) FC Halifax Town (-)

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Six games undefeated is a staggering run for Halifax Town, especially considering the situation they found themselves in as recently as November. They were so far behind when Jim Harvey took over from Darren Kelly that three wins and three draws still leaves them in the relegation zone, although they are now only one point behind Boreham Wood. While this will ultimately be seen as a wasted season by the Shaymen, it is turning out to be less bad than previously thought. Macclesfield are the next test on Saturday, an away trip that could lift Halifax to a safe position.

4) Leeds United (up three)

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A run of seven games without defeat put Leeds into the top-half just after Christmas. Consecutive draws means they are currently 13th, but Steve Evans has likely fulfilled the task asked of him by Massimo Cellino - give him an excuse to spend. Leeds were bolstered by the extension of Liam Bridcutt’s loan until the end of the season on Tuesday. Rotherham United are the visitors on Saturday and Evans will undoubtedly be seeking revenge after his recent spats with Neil Redfearn.

READ MORE - Latest Leeds United news

5) Huddersfield Town (-)

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The gegenpressing revolution is firmly hitting its stride at Huddersfield Town. David Wagner has led his team to a run of only one defeat in their last five, with three victories to boot. Gone are the suggestions that sacrificing the solidity of Chris Powell for the risk of Wagner could see the Terriers drop out of the Championship. Up to 18th, they now look set to pull out of the relegation battle developing at the foot of the division.

6) Barnsley (up two)

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The Tykes are 17th in League One, which is worth considering as a statement of fact. They lost eight on the bounce and looked down and out at one point, but speaking to Lee Johnson throughout their eight game run of losses suggested otherwise. Johnson was always confident that his team could turn it around, speaking more about promotion than relegation. Three wins from four and only one in their last six suggests he was right all along. They now have a Johnstone’s Paint Trophy Area Final to look forward to on Saturday, with a potential visit to Wembley on the cards.

7) Sheffield Wednesday (up five)

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Sheffield Wednesday’s fantastic form over the festive period, losing only to Middlesbrough in the four games, has put them only two points off the play-off places. Understandably they have risen up the rankings, with their previous position defined by the low ebb they were in at that point.

READ MORE - Match report from Wednesday win at Fulham

Their 4-1 victory against Wolves and 3-0 win against Birmingham stand out in particular, the sort of dominating home displays that a side hoping to edge their way out of the league through the play-offs tends to put together. Fulham await in the FA Cup, a winnable game that should see the Owls progress to the fourth round.

8) Sheffield United (up one)

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December was a fine month for Sheffield United, who won four games in a row to firmly implant themselves in the promotion conversation. Up to eighth, they were dealt a slight blow by a 3-2 loss to Peterborough on Saturday. They are now four points away from last Saturday’s opponents in sixth, which is admittedly a fall from where they had hoped to be at the start of the season but an improvement on where they were in November. The task for the second half of the season is simple - the Blades have to dominate the promotion discussion.

9) Hull City (up one)

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Two disappointing losses against Preston and Rotherham since we last checked up on Hull put a slight dampener on an otherwise exceptional run. They have picked up 12 points from the last 18, promotion form, and are only a point behind Derby.

READ MORE - Match report from Hull City’s win at QPR

Their victories were not easy either, coming against Queens Park Rangers away from home and Burnley. Progress in the third round of the FA Cup could also be managed quite easily, with Championship rivals Brighton the visitors to the KC Stadium.

10) Guiseley (down six)

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A festive season to forget for the Lions, who have not won a match since November. However, given this season was never about more than consolidation, Mark Bower will not be particularly disheartened. Guiseley are still 18th in the National League, which is about where they would have hoped to be this season. The rest of the campaign is now just about keeping it up, starting with the visit of second-place Forest Green Rovers on Saturday.

11) Bradford City (down five)

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Gone are the Bradford City that offered a sudden burst of hope through defensive solidity and picking teams off. Phil Parkinson’s side were so consistent that they looked likely to improve upon last season’s seventh-placed finish. However, consecutive losses against Sheffield United and Gillingham respectively, conceding three goals in each game in the process, has pushed the Bantams back down to 12th. FA Cup progress against Bury would be a good way to turn the momentum back around.

12) Rotherham United (down one)

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When Neil Redfearn arrived at the New York Stadium, the expectation was probably never for much more than safety this season. The former Leeds United head coach struggled initially, losing five of his first six games in charge. However, his team have developed a knack of picking up three points when it most matters, and have now climbed to 21st, a solid position for them to find themselves in. January is a huge month for the Millers - get it right and Championship football next season could be the reward.

13) York City (-)

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A slight bright patch over Christmas temporarily lifted York City out of the relegation zone, but they are back at the bottom of the Football League as the Power Rankings are written. It’s unfortunate, as the victory against Morecambe and the draw against Mansfield boded well. However, the clash with Yeovil Town was nothing less than a relegation six-pointer, and York were unable to avoid defeat. The good news for York is that they are only three points away from safety with a game in hand.

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