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Championship roundup: Watford close in on automatic promotion | Championship

Watford strengthened their grip on an automatic promotion place with a controversial win against struggling Sheffield Wednesday.

An early own goal from Tom Lees was all that separated the sides, but the offside flag had been up when Lees tried to beat Isaac Success to Ismaila Sarr’s cross – only for the officials to determine that Success had not been interfering with play.

It was a bitter blow for the Owls, who were without their manager, Darren Moore, after he tested positive for Covid-19. Wednesday are six points adrift of safety.

In contrast, it was a sixth successive win for Watford, who closed the gap at the top to six points as Brad Potts’s stoppage-time strike enabled Preston to hold the leaders Norwich to a 1-1 draw.

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League One roundup: Hull come back to beat Crewe


Hull maintained their slender lead at the top of League One after coming from behind to beat Crewe 2-1 at the Alexandra Stadium.

Chris Porter put the home side ahead from the penalty spot in the 66th minute after Jacob Greaves was penalised for handball, but Josh Magennis equalised in the same manner just five minutes later after Callum Elder was brought down. Mallik Wilks (pictured) then fired home the winner in off the far post in the 90th minute to keep the Tigers a point ahead of Peterborough.

Jonson Clarke-Harris scored the only goal of the game with an 89th-minute free-kick as Peterborough claimed a hard-fought 1-0 win at Fleetwood.

That kept Sunderland from moving into the automatic promotion places after the Black Cats came from behind to beat 10-man Oxford 3-1. James Henry fired the visitors into the lead after 21 minutes at the Stadium of Light, but Lynden Gooch equalised in first-half stoppage time after brilliant work by Jordan Jones. Sunderland added a second when Aiden McGeady calmly slotted home from the edge of the area, with Max Power grabbing the third in stoppage time.

Portsmouth maintained their promotion challenge with a 2-1 win over Rochdale. Ryan Williams tapped in the opener from two yards out following a a superb low cross from Marcus Harness and Ronan Curtis made it 2-0 after 27 minutes, with Jake Beesley scoring a last-minute consolation for the visitors.

In the day’s early game, Chelsea loanee Ian Maatsen scored his first goal in senior football as Charlton beat Doncaster 1-0 at the Keepmoat Stadium to leapfrog them in the table.

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Blackpool occupy the final play-off place after extending their unbeaten run to 12 matches with a 2-0 win at Swindon thanks to goals from Ellis Simms and Jerry Yates, the latter scoring against his former club just after the hour mark.

Ipswich remain in the hunt for a play-off place after beating Bristol Rovers 2-1 after making a flying start at Portman Road. An own goal from Luke Leahy inside the first minute and a superb finish from Alan Judge seemingly put the home side in command before Luke McCormick halved the deficit in the 18th minute, but Rovers could not find an equaliser.

Ryan Watson’s 27th-minute goal was enough to give Northampton a 1-0 victory over Shrewsbury, while Plymouth beat AFC Wimbledon by the same score.

Accrington and Burton fought out a goalless draw. PA Media

Photograph: Paul Greenwood/Rex Features

Philip Billing scored one and made another as Bournemouth boosted their play-off hopes with a 3-1 win against the manager Jonathan Woodgate’s former club Middlesbrough.

Reading climbed back into the Championship play-off positions following an entertaining 1-1 draw at top-six rivals Barnsley. Ovie Ejaria’s first goal since November had given Veljko Paunovic’s men a half-time lead before home skipper Alex Mowatt’s penalty levelled the scores just past the hour.

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The Royals are now unbeaten in their last eight trips to Oakwell since 1996 but should have gone on to collect maximum points, with leading marksman Lucas João guilty of a runaway candidate for miss of the season after Mowatt’s equaliser.

Jefferson Lerma and Dominic Solanke were also on target as the Cherries picked up their second league victory in succession, with Duncan Watmore having briefly put Boro back on level terms.

Cardiff’s chances of breaking into the top six suffered a blow as they went down 1-0 at home against Nottingham Forest, who ended a six-match winless run thanks to James Garner’s first-half strike. The on-loan Manchester United midfielder’s second goal of the season was enough to lift Forest 10 points clear of the relegation zone.

However, Coventry could do nothing to pull themselves clear of trouble as they went down 3-0 at QPR, leaving them only four points clear of Rotherham who have three games in hand. Rangers needed only 75 seconds to take the lead through Chris Willock, while Michael Rose’s own goal doubled their advantage before the break. Ilias Chair made sure of the points with his eighth goal of the season midway through the second half.

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League Two: Cambridge remain top after edging win


Cheltenham bounced back from losing top spot in League Two with a 4-0 thrashing of promotion rivals Tranmere, but Cambridge remain at the summit. The second-placed Robins responded to defeat last time out with a scintillating first half where Conor Thomas, William Boyle and Alfie May were all on target. Callum Wright added another after the break but they are still two points off the U’s.

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It was a tale of two penalties at the Abbey Stadium after Paul Mullin’s brace made it four consecutive wins for Mark Bonner’s men with a 2-1 victory over 10-man Morecambe. Cole Stockton had the chance to level for the visitors midway through the half, but was denied by Callum Burton and Mullin (pictured) rubbed salt in the wound with a spot-kick of his own before Freddie Price hit a late consolation.

Bolton have leapfrogged Tranmere to move into the third automatic promotion place and yet were frustrated by Colchester in a stalemate. The point was Hayden Mullins’s first since he stepped up from his assistant coach role for the relegation-threated Essex side.

Salford were indebted to Ibou Touray’s 88th-minute equaliser to earn a 1-1 draw against Grimsby and preserve their unbeaten home record.
Harry Clifton fired the Mariners ahead after two minutes but they were denied all three points and remain bottom.

Jamie Devitt hit a precious winner in the 84th minute for Barrow to inflict more woe on Newport after Scott Quigley had cancelled out Scot Bennett’s opener for the Welsh side. 

Leyton Orient secured a fourth consecutive triumph under Jobi McAnuff with a 2-0 success at Mansfield. A brace by top goalscorer Danny Johnson moved Orient within a point of Newport in seventh while Exeter are sandwiched between the two clubs after they lost 1-0 at Port Vale.

Victory for the Grecians would have moved them into the play-offs, but an early effort by Theo Robinson continued the hosts good form under new boss Darrell Clarke.

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Bradford are another team putting their name in the hat for promotion after they won 4-1 at home to Forest Green. Andy Cook’s double made the points safe while Elliot Watt and Danny Rowe also netted before Jake Young scored late on for Green.

Scunthorpe played out a goalless draw with Crawley and Walsall and Harrogate also ended 0-0.

Luke Norris had a penalty saved away to Oldham, but Stevenage still secured a 1-0 win after Scott Cuthbert’s 24th-minute header. PA Media

Photograph: Tom Smith/Rex Features

Rotherham could have closed the gap further but Michael Smith’s late penalty was saved by Bartosz Bialkowski as they lost 1-0 away against Millwall, having spent the late stages pushing for an equaliser despite playing most of the second half with 10 men.

A thunderbolt from Jed Wallace ultimately settled the contest at The Den where the Millers had their captain, Richard Wood, sent off for pulling back Wallace when clean through.

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Derby took a big step towards safety as they ended a seven-game winless run with a 2-0 victory against Luton. Lee Gregory opened the scoring with seven minutes gone and Graeme Shinnie made sure with a penalty early in the second half. There was also victory for the basement side Wycombe – only their seventh of the season – as Fred Onyedinma’s goal was enough to see off Blackburn 1-0.

Nigel Pearson is still awaiting his first home win as Bristol City manager after goals in each half from Nick Powell and Steven Fletcher gave Stoke a 2-0 win at Ashton Gate. Powell finished from close range in the 25th minute after Tommy Rowe misjudged a long ball to allow Jacob Brown through, while Fletcher scored with a fine effort following a free-kick just after the hour.

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