THE BATTLE FOR the Championship’s two automatic promotion spots continues to heat up with Southampton and Reading winning today.
An Adam Lallana brace fired leaders Southampton to a 2-0 win over Barnsley as both they and Reading, who defeated Leicester 3-1 at home, took advantage of second-placed West Ham’s slip up at home to Doncaster. The league’s heavyweights West Ham led Doncaster for more than an hour following Kevin Nolan’s opener, but they conceded a late James Coppinger strike in their 1-1 draw and they now lead Reading only on goal difference.
Reading’s staggering run of eight consecutive wins now threatens to break Southampton and West Ham’s stranglehold on the top two spots, which they have interchanged since late October last year. Southampton lead West Ham and Reading by three points having played an extra game.
Mikele Leigertwood scored for Reading from outside the box, Jason Roberts and Simon Church netted from close range before Neil Danns scored a stoppage-time consolation goal for Leicester. Brighton moved back into the playoff places with a 2-0 win over stricken Portsmouth thanks to a brace in the final 15 minutes from Spaniard Vicente.
Birmingham’s promotion hopes were dealt a blow after a 1-1 draw with lowly Coventry. Gary McSheffrey headed Coventry into a 70th-minute lead but Marlon King equalised two minutes later. Blackpool slipped out of the top six on the back of a 3-1 defeat away at Peterborough while Watford pinched a rare away win with first-half goals from Troy Deeney and Sean Murray seeing them home 2-1 at Derby.
Nottingham Forest continued their recent revival with a third win in six games. Danny Higginbotham put Forest 2-0 up late in the first half and Andy Reid wrapped up the scoring 10 minutes from time after Darius Henderson had pulled one back for Millwall. Burnley and Crystal Palace shared the spoils in their mid-table tussle with Darren Ambrose scoring in for Palace in the 63rd minute to cancel out Jay Rodriguez’s opener for Burnley.