Championship roundup: Watford close in on automatic promotion


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.

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.

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.

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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