Championship Review: Leeds & Sheffield United both victorious

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The top three in the Championship increased their advantage over the chasing pack on an entertaining day of action in England’s second-tier.

Leeds United and Sheffield United earned key Championship victories, making impressive responses to promotion rivals Norwich City’s win on Friday.

Norwich had built a five-point lead at the top of the table after beating Swansea City, but Sheffield United saw off 10-man Rotherham United 2-0 at Bramall Lane in one of Saturday’s early fixtures, before Patrick Bamford’s strike gave Leeds a 1-0 away win over Bristol City.

The Canaries therefore sit two points ahead of Leeds and four clear of Sheffield United with 10 matches to play, as the three teams fight it out for two automatic promotion spots.

No other side starting the day in the top eight tasted victory. West Brom were held to a 1-1 draw by bottom-of-the-table Ipswich Town, Middlesbrough fell to a 2-1 home loss against Brentford, while Derby County drew 1-1 with Sheffield Wednesday.

Preston North End, Nottingham Forest, Reading and Bolton Wanderers were the day’s other winners, while QPR were involved in a goalless draw with Stoke City, who played for 82 minutes with 10 men after Sam Clucas’ early red card.
 

LEEDS & SHEFFIELD UNITED DO THE JOB

As the stakes get higher with every week, both Sheffield United and Leeds knew they had no margin for error.

Jack O’Connell gave Chris Wilder’s side an excellent start with a goal in the fifth minute, before Rotherham’s Will Vaulks was shown a 28th-minute straight red card for a late foul on George Baldock.

Mark Duffy then made sure of the points 16 minutes from time, his side claiming a seventh consecutive home win.

Leeds then needed three points to return to the top two, with Bamford’s fourth goal in as many games giving them an early boost at Ashton Gate.

They then kept their advantage with relative comfort despite the narrow scoreline, with Bristol City’s play-off chase hindered by a return of one point from four games.

 

CHASING PACK FALTER

Fourth-placed West Brom are now seven points behind Sheffield United above them, after Jon Nolan’s header gave Ipswich a point at The Hawthorns, his effort cancelling out Stefan Johansen’s fourth-minute opener, which came from a deflected free-kick.

But Middlesbrough had a worse afternoon, with Ashley Fletcher’s simple opener cancelled out by two Brentford goals in the final 20 minutes – Ryan Shotton’s own goal followed up by a winner from Said Benrahma.

 

Derby were also pegged back after taking the lead, Bradley Johnson’s effort replied to by Dominic Iorfa’s header. The Rams do, though, edge back above Bristol City into sixth.

Nottingham Forest and Preston closed in on those sides after 3-0 and 1-0 wins respectively over Hull City and Blackburn Rovers.

 

READING & BOLTON WIN RELEGATION SIX-POINTERS

Reading and Bolton were the big winners at the bottom of the table.

Phil Parkinson’s Bolton moved to within five points of safety after a pivotal 2-1 home win against Millwall. After a goalless first half, Pawel Olkowski and Gary O’Neil had them two goals up by the hour mark, with Lee Gregory’s late strike a mere consolation.

Reading moved from 21st to 19th with a thrilling late 3-2 home win over relegation rivals Wigan Athletic. Trailing until the final moments, Modou Barrow levelled the match from 25 yards in the 89th minute before Yakou Meite scored the winner seven minutes into added time.

 

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