Wigan Athletic humiliated Hull City 8-0 as the Championship relegation battle took an extraordinary twist - while West Brom might be wobbling near the top.

Kieran Dowell hit a hat-trick for Wigan, who remarkably led Hull 7-0 at half-time. Wigan sit in mid-table but are fighting for survival in the second tier because of an administration penalty hanging over the club, and this result was a huge step towards safety.

West Brom have looked on track for automatic promotion for weeks, but a slip in form from Slaven Bilic's men could see Brentford pip them at the post.

Second-placed West Brom could only draw 0-0 at home against fourth-placed Fulham, meaning Brentford can close to within a point of the Baggies with two rounds of games remaining should they beat Preston North End on Wednesday.

WONDER AT WIGAN

Wigan were the talk of English football after their first-half seven-goal show.

The only saving grace for Hull, and frustration for Wigan, was that no supporters were present to witness one of the most eye-catching results in English football all season.

Wigan savagely picked apart the free-falling Tigers and climbed to 13th place in the division.

They became the first team to score seven or more goals in one half of a match in either the Premier League or the three tiers of the EFL since Watford came from 2-0 down to beat Blackpool 7-2 with a second-half flurry in January 2015.

Aside from Dowell's treble, Kieffer Moore netted twice and there were goals for Kal Naismith, who set the ball rolling in the first minute, Jamal Lowe and Joe Williams.

Wigan stand to receive a 12-point punishment for entering administration, a troubling development that followed a recent takeover of the club, but they are fighting to avoid that meaning relegation.

The win neatly moved them 12 points clear of Hull, who sit 22nd and are a point adrift of safety, with the Tigers having a suddenly vastly inferior goal difference to Wigan.

BAGGIES BLOWING IT?

West Brom and Leeds have been trading first place in the Championship, but there could be a surprise in the promotion shake-up.

By failing to find a way through Fulham's defence, West Brom's hold on second place has become increasingly tenuous, given fast-finishing Brentford are on a seven-game winning streak.

Fulham's Anthony Knockaert hit the bar in the second half at the Hawthorns, where the outcome could have been even worse for West Brom.

Cardiff City kept a grip on sixth place as goals from Junior Hoilett and Lee Tomlin earned a 2-1 home win over Derby County.

Just outside the play-offs, Millwall sit seventh after a 1-0 home win over Blackburn Rovers, Mason Bennett with the only goal.

WARNOCK DELIVERS

Ashley Fletcher and Patrick Roberts scored for Middlesbrough in a 2-1 win at Reading that carried Neil Warnock's side five points clear of the bottom three.

Liam Moore had put the hosts ahead before Boro, who appointed veteran manager Warnock as Jonathan Woodgate's replacement last month, turned it around.

Among those worse off than Boro, Huddersfield Town picked up a useful point in a 0-0 draw at Sheffield Wednesday, while second-bottom Luton Town were held 1-1 at home by QPR.

Fulham guaranteed themselves at least a place in the Championship play-offs and dented visitors Cardiff City's hopes with a 2-0 win at Craven Cottage on Friday.

The Cottagers' success came while Luton Town climbed off the bottom of the table by beating fellow strugglers Huddersfield Town.

Aleksandar Mitrovic marked his return to Fulham's team from a three-game suspension with his 24th league goal this season, guiding a 35th-minute penalty into the top-right corner after he was fouled by Cardiff's Dion Sanderson.

Josh Onomah doubled Fulham's advantage in the 66th minute with a quick touch and shot that was arrowed across Alex Smithies.

Scott Parker's side saw out a win that moved them up to third and closed the gap to West Brom in the second automatic promotion berth to four points, while sixth-placed Cardiff could slip to ninth if results elsewhere go against them this weekend.

A pair of second-half goals saw Luton claim an important 2-0 victory over Huddersfield at the John Smith's Stadium.

Sonny Bradley nodded home James Bree's corner within four minutes of the restart, before Elliot Lee fired beyond Jonas Lossl after James Collins' attempt came back off the post.

Luton consequently moved above Barnsley and two points adrift of the last currently safe teams, with Huddersfield just two points clear of the bottom three in 19th.

Brentford and Fulham claimed crucial wins in the race for automatic promotion from the Championship, but a point apiece does little for Barnsley and Luton Town at the foot of the table.

With top two Leeds United and West Brom not in action, Brentford closed the gap after a late turnaround saw them record a sixth successive league win at the expense of Charlton Athletic.

Fulham boosted their own hopes of finishing in the top two with an away victory at Nottingham Forest, while seventh-placed Cardiff City slipped up at home as they lost 3-2 to Blackburn Rovers.

 

BEES KEEP ON BUZZING

Brentford's impressive streak appeared in serious danger when they trailed with 15 minutes to play at home to Charlton, Macauley Bonne giving the visitors an early lead.

However, after being fouled by Josh Cullen, Said Benrahma converted from the penalty spot before Ethan Pinnock's 85th-minute header secured all three points. The result leaves the in-form Bees on 73 points, just two behind second-placed West Brom.

Fulham are up to 71 points themselves after Harry Arter's superb long-range strike was enough for a 1-0 triumph at fifth-placed Forest.

Cardiff were beaten by a stunning goal from Adam Armstrong, who seized on a loose pass to lob Alex Smithies from long range. Rovers had previously fought back twice to draw level before their outrageous winner.

 

HALME HARMS LUTON'S HOPES

Luton remain stuck at the foot of the table after conceding a late equaliser against fellow strugglers Barnsley.

Luke Berry put the hosts ahead in the 13th minute at Kenilworth Road, following up after Elliott Lee had hit the post. Yet Luton's hopes of moving above their opponents were dashed six minutes from time, Aapo Halme prodding in an equaliser.

Meanwhile, Huddersfield Town kept a third successive clean sheet in a stalemate with Reading. The result leaves the Terriers three points clear of Middlesbrough, who occupy the final relegation spot.

Leeds United moved another step closer to automatic promotion from the Championship with a 3-1 victory over Blackburn Rovers at Ewood Park. 

Marcelo Bielsa's side have been inconsistent since last month's restart but saw off Blackburn to remain six points clear of third-placed Brentford. 

West Brom, who sit in second, are not in action until Sunday and in-form Brentford took full advantage by closing the gap to two points with a convincing 3-0 win against Wigan Athletic. 

Stoke City were also big winners in Saturday's second-tier fixtures, thrashing fellow strugglers Barnsley 4-0 to climb out of the relegation zone and into 18th place. 

Cardiff City, Reading and Fulham picked up valuable victories of their own, while two other matches - including the east Midlands derby - finished level. 


TOP-FLIGHT RETURN IN SIGHT FOR LEEDS

Leeds had collected four points from nine since resuming their campaign, but there is surely no stopping them from ending their 16-year wait for top-flight promotion. 

Patrick Bamford and Kalvin Phillips put Leeds two goals ahead and while Adam Armstrong scored a free-kick early in the second period, Mateusz Klich made sure of the points. 

West Brom play their game in hand against Hull City on Sunday and now have a four-point gap to make up on Leeds, though holding down second place could become their main priority. 

Brentford have now won five in a row after Said Benrahma helped himself to a hat-trick against Wigan, who had Joe Garner sent off late on. 

PROMOTION BATTLE HEATING UP

Derby County and Nottingham Forest played out a 1-1 draw in the early kick-off - Chris Martin scoring in the 97th minute to cancel out Joe Lolley's goal. 

Cardiff saw a number of promising chances go begging against Bristol City before Lee Tomlin played in fellow substitute Danny Ward to snatch a 1-0 win. 

As well as earning bragging rights for Cardiff, Ward's clinical strike five minutes from the end also opens up a three-point buffer on seventh-in-the-table Derby. 

Fulham also needed a late goal to overcome Birmingham City at Craven Cottage, Josh Onomah popping up deep into added time to prolong the visitors' bad run of form. 

STOKE STEER CLEAR OF DANGER

Stoke entered their match with Barnsley sitting just above their opponents in the relegation zone. By the final whistle, they had risen clear of the drop zone. 

Tyrese Campbell struck twice while a goal apiece for Sam Vokes and Tom Ince resulted in a crushing win at the bet365 Stadium. 

Luton Town were unable to give their own survival hopes a much-needed boost as they went down 5-0 at home to Reading, a result that leaves them five points from safety. 

Yakou Meite was the hero for Reading, netting four of their goals - including an 18-minute hat-trick before half-time - while George Puscas was also on target for the visitors. 

Meanwhile, Huddersfield Town played out a goalless stalemate with a Preston North End side now winless in six matches.

Leeds United took a huge step towards promotion to the Premier League with a 3-0 victory over Fulham at Elland Road.

After West Brom lost at Brentford on Friday, Leeds' impressive win saw them bounce back from last week's defeat to Cardiff City and move top of the Championship.

There were also wins for Charlton Athletic, Cardiff, Luton Town, Derby County, Middlesbrough and Wigan Athletic on Saturday.

Birmingham City and Hull City shared a dramatic 3-3 draw, while there were no goals in the match between Barnsley and Millwall.

 

LEEDS CLOSING IN ON TOP FLIGHT

The 2-0 away defeat to Cardiff in the first match after lockdown was a concern, but even the most pessimistic Leeds fans must concede things are looking good now.

With seven games to go, Leeds are three points clear of West Brom and have opened up an eight-point cushion over third-placed Brentford.

The win over Fulham also dealt a hammer blow to their opponents' chances of automatic promotion - they are now 10 points off the top in fourth.

Patrick Bamford slotted in a cool left-footed finish from Helder Costa's cross after 10 minutes.

Leeds made sure of the points after the break when Ezgjan Alioski was set up by Jack Harrison, who went on to score the third after racing onto a Pablo Hernandez throughball.

Neeskens Kebano was sent off for Fulham in stoppage time, while key striker Aleksandar Mitrovic may face retrospective action after an apparent elbow on Ben White went unpunished in the early stages.

KEY WIN FOR CARDIFF

Cardiff continued their momentum with a potentially pivotal win over Preston North End, one of their main rivals for a play-off place.

The Welsh side moved above Preston into sixth place courtesy of a 3-1 away triumph given to them by late goals from Nathaniel Mendez-Laing and Robert Glatzel.

All four goals were scored in the last 21 minutes, with Joe Ralls' header putting Cardiff ahead before Daniel Johnson equalised.

Derby are only three points off the top six after Tom Lawrence's fine strike and a Wayne Rooney penalty earned a 2-1 home win over Reading, whose goal was scored by Andy Rinomhota.

Lawrence and Reading's Matt Miazga both received red cards for a clash just after the final whistle.

WINNING START FOR WARNOCK

Middlesbrough won 2-0 at Stoke City to give Neil Warnock an ideal start after his appointment as manager.

Ashley Fletcher and Marcus Tavernier scored in each half, while Stoke's Nick Powell was sent off a minute from time.

Huddersfield Town, who face fifth-placed Nottingham Forest on Sunday, dropped into the bottom three without playing.

Leeds United failed to take a major step towards securing Premier League promotion as they slumped to a 2-0 loss at Cardiff City.

Victory for Leeds would have given them a 10-point lead over third-placed Fulham but they were undone by a clinical Cardiff side.

Junior Hoilett pounced on Kalvin Phillips' misplaced pass to find the net from 20 yards in the 36th minute and Cardiff made the game safe 19 minutes from time when another wayward ball from the back was punished by Robert Glatzel's half-volley.

Leeds, who stay second, will get another chance to increase their lead over Fulham on Saturday when the Cottagers visit Elland Road. Cardiff are only outside the play-off places on goal difference.

Manchester United boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has paid tribute to "incredible human being" Peter Whittingham following the former Cardiff City midfielder's death at the age of 35.

Cardiff confirmed on Thursday that Whittingham had passed away after reportedly suffering head injuries in an accidental fall last week.

Whittingham represented Aston Villa, Burnley, Derby County and Blackburn Rovers during a 15-year playing career but was best associated for his decade at Cardiff.

Solskjaer, who spent nearly nine months working with the Villa academy product in south Wales, told United's official website: "I was deeply saddened to hear of the passing of Peter Whittingham.

"Peter was a fantastic footballer and an incredible human being. I thoroughly enjoyed working with him during my time at Cardiff City.

"It's hard to believe that he has been taken from us at such a young age. Peter will be deeply missed and our thoughts are with his family at this very sad time."

Whittingham was twice Cardiff's Player of the Year and was named in the Football League Team of the Decade for 2005-2015.

Juventus star Aaron Ramsey started his career with the Welsh club and paid a touching tribute of his own to his former team-mate on Instagram.

"I will forever be grateful for you taking me under your wing," he said, accompanied by a picture of the pair playing together in their Cardiff days.

"You were one of the most technical and gifted players I've played with and that left foot of yours was like a wand.

"I'm proud to have played alongside you and will always remember the young vs old games and you just running the show.

"My thoughts and prayers go out to your family, rest in peace Whitts, was too young."

Cardiff City have confirmed that former midfielder Peter Whittingham has died at the age of 35.

Whittingham was reported to have been hospitalised this week after sustaining head injuries following an accidental fall.

In a statement issued on Thursday, Cardiff revealed Whittingham has passed away.

The club stated: "It is with an immeasurable amount of sorrow that we must inform supporters that Peter Whittingham has passed away at the age of 35.

"We are heartbroken.

"The news of Peter's sudden and untimely passing has shaken us to our very foundation. Our love goes out to his wife Amanda, their young son and family. They are at the forefront of our thoughts and, on their behalf, we ask for their privacy to be respected at this unfathomably cruel and difficult time.

"First and foremost, Peter was a family man - and somebody who could light up a room with his sense of humour, warmth and personality. Then, as a professional footballer - as a Bluebird - he excelled with talent, ease, grace and humility. Nobody did it better.

"The loss of Peter will be painfully felt by our city, supporters and indeed all who ever had the pleasure of knowing him. We love you Pete and your memory will eternally stay with us."

Whittingham began his career with Aston Villa and also had spells with Burnley, Derby County and Blackburn Rovers.

However, the former England youth international was best known for his decade with Cardiff.

Whittingham was part of the side that won promotion to the Premier League by winning the Championship in 2012-13, while he also played in the finals of the 2008 FA Cup and 2012 EFL Cup.

He was twice Cardiff's Player of the Year, in 2009-10 and 2011-12, and was named in the Football League Team of the Decade for 2005-2015.

David Ibbotson, the pilot in the plane crash that killed footballer Emiliano Sala, did not have the required licence or permissions to fly commercially.

The Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB) on Friday published its report into the loss of the Piper Malibu aircraft, which crashed over the English Channel on January 21 last year, two days after Sala's move from Nantes to Cardiff City was confirmed.

It found Ibbotson's previous licence for flying that plane had become invalidated in November 2018.

In addition, the aircraft did not have the correct license or permissions to operate.

The body of Sala, who was 28 at the time, was recovered on February 7, 2019. Ibbotson's body has not been found.

A report released in August said Sala had clearly been exposed to carbon monoxide.

And in publishing their final findings, the AAIB wrote: "At 20:16 hrs (local time), probably while manoeuvring to avoid poor weather, the aircraft was lost from radar and struck the sea 22 nautical miles north-north-west of Guernsey.

"Neither the pilot nor aircraft had the required licences or permissions to operate commercially."

The investigation found that Ibbotson lost control during a manually-flown turn, likely initiated to remain in or regain Visual Meteorological Conditions, and that the aircraft subsequently broke up "while manoeuvring at an airspeed significantly in excess of its design manoeuvring speed".

Additionally, the investigation determined that Ibbotson was probably affected by carbon monoxide poisoning.

Furthermore, the report revealed there was no carbon monoxide detector with an active warning to alert Ibbotson to the presence of carbon monoxide in time for him to take mitigating action.

The report also found that: "A loss of control was made more likely because the flight was not conducted in accordance with safety standards applicable to commercial operations. 

"This manifested itself in the flight being operated under Visual Flight Rules (VFR) at night in poor weather conditions despite the pilot having no training in night flying and a lack of recent practice in instrument flying."

Championship leaders West Brom extended their advantage over Leeds United to seven points on Tuesday but Brentford's winless run goes on after they slipped up on their travels.

With their nearest rivals in the table not in action until Wednesday, the Baggies recorded a fifth win in six league outings as they overcame a Preston North End side who had Darnell Fisher sent off in the second half.

While Nottingham Forest moved up to third place thanks to a narrow triumph away to Cardiff City, fellow promotion hopefuls Bristol City slumped to a 2-1 loss at Huddersfield Town.

QPR prevailed by a 2-1 score at home to Derby County, too, with Ilias Chair grabbing the winner for the hosts in the 75th minute.

 

HAL JUST HEAVENLY FOR BAGGIES

Preston are still searching for their first away win over West Brom since 1992 after going down 2-0 at a snowy Hawthorns.

Hal Robson-Kanu opened the scoring in the sixth minute and Jake Livermore doubled the advantage for Slaven Bilic's side in first-half stoppage time, with the visitors' hopes of a comeback curtailed when Fisher was shown a straight red for a challenge on Callum Robinson.

Leeds will hope to cut the gap when they visit Middlesbrough, but Forest are now only three points behind the Yorkshire club after Tiago Silva's 49th-minute goal was enough to beat Cardiff.

 

BEES BUZZED IN PROMOTION FIGHT

Brentford have now gone four league games without a victory after they were beaten 2-1 at struggling Luton Town.

The Bees were stung by an own goal by Shandon Baptiste in the ninth minute, with Martin Cranie then putting the hosts 2-0 up before the break.

Ollie Watkins pulled one back late on, yet Luton hung on for their 10th win of the campaign, lifting them off the bottom of the table as they climbed above Barnsley.

Huddersfield, meanwhile, moved further clear of the drop zone. Chris Willock and Karlan Grant, who converted from the spot, secured them the three points at the expense of seventh-placed Bristol City.

Leeds United beat Reading 1-0 at Elland Road to move five points clear of the chasing pack in the race for automatic promotion from the Championship.

Third-placed Fulham were held 1-1 by Derby County on Friday and Brentford in fourth played out a 2-2 draw with Blackburn Rovers.

Nottingham Forest and Bristol City also dropped points, drawing 0-0 with QPR and losing 3-0 to leaders West Brom respectively, with the Baggies maintaining their four-point gap on Leeds.

Elsewhere, Wigan Athletic and Barnsley picked up wins to boost their survival hopes.

LEEDS, WEST BROM PULLING AWAY

Pablo Hernandez's 57th-minute strike earned Leeds back-to-back 1-0 home wins.

West Brom appear over their mid-season wobble after making it four wins in five matches with a comfortable victory.

Callum Robinson put Slaven Bilic's side on course for an 11th away win of the campaign with a fortuitous opener and Hal Robson-Kanu netted twice, either side of Romaine Sawyers' straight red for grabbing Jamie Paterson by the throat.

CHASING PACK FALTER

Brentford fought from two goals down to draw 2-2 with Blackburn as they joined west London rivals Fulham in dropping points.

Ollie Watkins scored an impressive volley and Said Benrahma netted from the penalty spot to cancel out Adam Armstrong's double.

Forest missed out on the chance to move up to third after failing to break down QPR in a stalemate at City Ground, while Preston North End recovered from a goal down to beat Hull City 2-1.

HOPE FOR WIGAN, BARNSLEY

Shaun Hutchinson's own goal was enough for Wigan to earn just an eighth league win of the campaign at home to Millwall, while Barnsley built on their shock 3-0 win at Fulham last weekend with a 1-0 victory over Middlesbrough.

Wigan and Barnsley are now two and five points adrift of 21st-placed Huddersfield respectively following the Terriers' 3-1 defeat at Swansea City.

Luton Town are now occupying bottom place, with Lyle Taylor's double earning Charlton Athletic a 3-1 win.

Elsewhere, a Callum Paterson own goal and a scrambled finish from Joe Allen saw Stoke City earn a 2-0 home win against Cardiff City that leaves them three points clear of the drop-zone.

SIX-GOAL THRILLER AT ST ANDREW'S

Birmingham City and Sheffield Wednesday remain locked on 45 points following a 3-3 draw.

Garry Monk was denied a winning return to one of his former clubs by Scott Hogan's equaliser in added time, the Aston Villa loanee's fourth goal in five matches.

Wednesday had twice battled back from a goal down before Jacob Murphy put them in front, but they are now winless in six outings.

Leeds United ended a three-match winless run in the Championship as Luke Ayling's early strike earned Marcelo Bielsa's side a 1-0 victory over Bristol City.

That moved Leeds back to just four points behind leaders West Brom, who were held 2-2 at home by Nottingham Forest after Matty Cash's late leveller for the visitors at the Hawthorns.

Third-placed Fulham were thumped 3-0 at home by bottom-of-the-table Barnsley, while Brentford nudged above Forest and into fourth place thanks to a 1-1 draw at Birmingham.

Preston, who sit sixth, suffered a 1-0 defeat at home to Millwall, further muddying the play-off picture in the English second tier.

Leeds emerge from a storm

With their promotion hopes hurt by recent defeats to Forest and Wigan, a midweek draw with Brentford offered Leeds some encouragement. They have made slumping after strong starts a familiar trait, yet Saturday's narrow success put their promotion push back on track.

Ayling, a former Bristol City player, drove home from eight yards in the 16th minute, his left-footed strike coming after the ball pinged around the penalty area.

In blustery conditions, Helder Costa should have scored a second for Leeds when he went around Daniel Bentley but allowed the City goalkeeper to get back to make a desperate save.

The conditions were far from helpful, with litter from the stands blowing across the pitch, but Leeds held strong to reignite their promotion push.

Baggies blow

West Brom and Forest played out an entertaining four-goal game in the early kick-off, but the Baggies' three-match winning run is over and that will give the likes of Leeds encouragement.

Callum Robinson fired West Brom ahead after 37 minutes, before Kyle Bartley's own goal levelled up the game by half-time. A second own goal, this time from Tobias Figueiredo, restored West Brom's lead and looked set to bring the hosts maximum points.

Yet a twist in the narrative arrived in the first minute of stoppage time, with Cash driving forward and cracking in a sublime leveller, a ferocious finish that arrowed across Sam Johnstone and into the far left corner.

 

Chasing pack step off the pace

Scott Parker saw his Fulham side flop against Barnsley, with Cauley Woodrow's double - the first a penalty - and Jacob Brown's fine strike giving the Tykes a stunning Craven Cottage win and a glimmer of hope in their attempt to beat the drop.

The goals came early at St Andrew's where Birmingham took a 13th-minute lead against Brentford through Lukas Jutkiewicz, with Ethan Pinnock grabbing an equaliser four minutes later.

Stoke led QPR 2-0 after 31 minutes at Loftus Road but crumbled to a 4-2 defeat, Bright Osayi-Samuel and Ilias Chair grabbing late goals for the London side. Ryan Tunnicliffe's strike gave Luton a 1-0 win at Middlesbrough, and Shaun Hutchinson headed Millwall to their victory at Preston.

Ten-man Owls humbled

Cardiff CIty drew 2-2 at home against Wigan, while Yakou Meite, George Puscas and Sam Baldock, with a stoppage-time penalty, netted as Reading romped home 3-0 at Sheffield Wednesday, who had Osaze Urhoghide sent off early in the second half.

John Buckley and Tosin Adarabioyo cracked in first-half goals at The Valley as Blackburn were 2-0 winners against Charlton, nudging Rovers closer to the play-off picture.

A 25-yard strike from Tom Lawrence gave Derby County the lead at home against Huddersfield, but it finished 1-1 at Pride Park after a surging run and smart finish from Harry Toffolo.

West Brom moved six points clear at the top of the Championship on a night where Fulham missed the chance to leapfrog Leeds United into second.

The Baggies had to come from behind to defeat Reading 2-1 at the Madejski Stadium on Wednesday, while Fulham settled for a 1-1 draw at Millwall that keeps them third.

Bristol City and Preston were also victors to boost their top-six hopes, while Cardiff City won comfortably at Huddersfield Town to sit four points adrift of the promotion spots.

At the bottom of the table, Luton Town defeated out-of-form Sheffield Wednesday 1-0 to haul themselves off the foot of the table.


BAGGIES BOINGING TOWARDS PROMOTION, FULHAM HELD

West Brom made hard work of it after Kyle Bartley's handball in the area was followed by George Puscas putting Reading in front from the penalty spot.

But Matheus Pereira levelled on the rebound having seen his 26th-minute volley saved and Bartley went from zero-to-hero with a looping header shortly after Callum Robinson hit the crossbar.

Fulham had the chance to overtake Leeds, held by Brentford on Tuesday, and things looked promising when Aleksandar Mitrovic met Joe Bryan's curling delivery on the slide after three minutes.

Jon Dadi Bodvarsson poked home the equaliser for Millwall four minutes later despite seemingly being offside and Fulham were handed a reprieve when Jed Wallace whacked a 12th-minute penalty against the bar.


PRESTON, ROBINS IN THE HUNT

Bristol City nervily held on to beat Derby County 3-2 having raced into a three-goal lead after 58 minutes.

Nahki Wells and Filip Benkovic scored their first goals for the Robins and Famara Diedhiou extended the lead in the second half.

Martyn Waghorn and Chris Martin reduced the arrears, but Derby's comeback proved too little too late at Ashton Gate.

It was a more straight-forward evening for Preston, above Bristol City on goal difference alone, as Alan Browne and Tom Barkhuizen earned a 2-0 win at Stoke City, who are just four points above the drop.


HATTERS PILE MISERY ON MONK

Wednesday lost for the sixth time in nine Championship outings as Luton earned a huge win in their relegation dogfight.

The Owls conceded a penalty after just 15 seconds only for James Collins to fire his spot-kick against the crossbar.

But lax defending from Dominic Iorfa allowed Collins to make up for that miss as he added the finishing touch into an unguarded goal from Harry Cornick's lay-off in the 23rd minute to sink the sorry Owls.

Huddersfield remain in trouble after being turned over 3-0 at home by Cardiff, who remain in the play-offs hunt.

Josh Murphy, Will Vaulks and Callum Paterson were all on target for the Bluebirds.

Wayne Rooney helped fire Derby County to a 4-0 Championship win on Friday to check Stoke City's resurgence under Michael O'Neill.

The Potters had claimed 10 of the previous 12 points available in league action under Northern Ireland manager O'Neill to kick clear of the relegation zone prior to the trip to Derby.

But Derby have been outstanding at Pride Park this term, losing just twice in the league, and a fourth straight home success was ultimately secured with ease.

Martyn Waghorn stooped to head in Craig Forsyth's cross after 21 minutes, and Chris Martin slammed high past Jack Butland from Duane Holmes' pass three minutes later.

Former England captain Rooney netted his first Derby goal in a defeat to Luton Town earlier in the week, but the 34-year-old made sure of victory this time with a delightful 20-yard free-kick midway through the second half.

There was time for the Rams to add further gloss to the scoreline, Rooney feeding substitute Jayden Bogle, who thrashed into the top-left corner.

Meanwhile, Friday's other Championship fixture saw Reading hold Cardiff City to a 1-1 draw in the sides' second of three meetings in 10 days.

Reading led through Yakou Meite after just eight minutes and protected their advantage until the 70th minute, as Callum Paterson rescued a point for hosts Cardiff.

Leeds United soared back to the top of the Championship as Patrick Bamford's double inspired a 3-2 victory over Millwall.

Marcelo Bielsa's side had trailed 2-0 early in the game at Elland Road but came roaring back to take the three points, while rivals West Brom tripped up 2-1 at Cardiff City.

Third-placed Nottingham Forest sit just two points adrift of struggling West Brom now, after edging out Brentford.

Wayne Rooney's first goal for Derby County, helped by a big deflection, gave Phillip Cocu's side the lead at Luton Town, but the former England captain finished on the losing side as the Hatters came back to score a 3-2 victory.

Blackburn were 2-1 victors against QPR, Huddersfield Town won 2-1 at Hull City, Bristol City recorded an away-day success at Reading, and lowly Wigan saw Jamal Lowe grab a stoppage-time winner to record a 2-1 triumph over Sheffield Wednesday.

 

BAMFORD THE HERO AS LEEDS RISE AGAIN

It would have been reasonable to ask if the wheels were coming off the Leeds bandwagon when they fell 2-0 behind against Millwall inside 23 minutes, as Shaun Hutchinson and Jed Wallace gave the visitors a dream start.

There have been worrying signs for Bielsa's Leeds in recent weeks but just as thoughts turned to their previous failures to capitalise on strong starts to league campaigns, the West Yorkshire side roused themselves.

Bamford began the recovery by striking from close range in the 48th minute, Pablo Hernandez cracked an equaliser just after the hour, and Bamford had Elland Road rocking when he stooped to head home Luke Ayling's cross to put the hosts ahead.

A 3-2 win, a long-standing rival sunk, a first win of 2020 secured. Crisis? What crisis?

NOW THIS IS A CRISIS: WEST BROM IN TURMOIL

Seven games without a win in the Championship for West Brom spells trouble - and the only saving grace is that they are still in the automatic promotion places.

Any hopes that the weekend win over West Ham in the FA Cup would prove a turning point were soon shattered at Cardiff.

Callum Paterson fired the Bluebirds ahead in the first minute of the second half, and despite Charlie Austin's penalty levelling up the match, Cardiff had the final say.

Lee Tomlin's free-kick was a sublime goal, curled over the West Brom wall and into the top left corner to clinch the points. Luton are next for West Brom, visiting the Hawthorns on Saturday.

 

FOREST EYE RETURN TO PROMISED LAND

It is worth remembering Nottingham Forest have not played Premier League football this century, having been relegated in 1999. Truth is, they have rarely looked like getting back, but maybe their time is approaching.

With the top two having looked suddenly vulnerable over recent weeks, Brentford and Forest have been among the teams making up ground at a rapid rate, which added spice to Tuesday's clash between the clubs.

Joe Lolley's strike made all the difference for Sabri Lamouchi's side, with the former Huddersfield player firing home with the help of a deflection in the 14th minute.

Forest last lost in the league at Huddersfield on December 21, their seven-game unbeaten run raising real hope in Nottingham of a return to the top flight for the former European Cup winners.

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