Sheffield United's Ciaran Clark (right) celebrates with Oliver Norwood. PA

John Egan sees red but Sheffield United maintain automatic-promotion charge

Ciaran Clark finds the net for the Blades on an afternoon of mixed emotions for Irish stars at the top and bottom of the Championship.

SHEFFIELD UNITED BEAT Coventry City 3-1 to record their seventh win in eight Championship games and maintain their automatic-promotion charge.

Goals from James McAtee, Ireland defender Ciaran Clark and Tommy Doyle kept the Blades second in the table, eight points ahead of Blackburn.

Viktor Gyokeres, who earlier missed a penalty, scored for the visitors midway through the second half.

United played the final 13 minutes with only 10 men after John Egan was sent off following a second yellow card.

At the opposite end of the table, Kaine Kesler-Hayden scored a late winner as bottom side Huddersfield fought from behind to triumph 2-1 at promotion-chasing Preston.

Greg Cunningham, capped four times at senior level by Ireland, had given the hosts a first-half lead, having been belatedly awarded the goal after Ched Evans initially claimed the header at the near post.

Jordan Rhodes registered his 96th goal for the Terriers before striking the post as the visitors battled back after the break, with Kesler-Hayden completing the turnaround by tapping home in the 85th minute.

James McClean was part of a Wigan Athletic side comprehensively outclassed by Middlesbrough as the Latics remain in the relegation zone following a 4-1 defeat.

Chuba Akpom extended Kolo Toure’s miserable start to life as Wigan boss as the in-form former Arsenal man hit a second half hat-trick at the Riverside.

Akpom moved top of the league’s goal standings and took his tally to 12 for the season with his second-half strikes.

middlesbrough-v-wigan-athletic-sky-bet-championship-riverside-stadium Wigan Athletic's Curtis Tilt (below), Middlesbrough's Chuba Akpom and Wigan Athletic's James McClean (above). PA PA

He secured three points for Boro after Marcus Forss had opened the scoring in the first half, as Michael Carrick’s side closed the gap on the top six.

Elsewhere, Chiedozie Ogbene thought his 71st-minute assist for Conor Washington was enough to give the Millers a 2-1 win at home to Stoke City.

However, the Potter, who had Will Smallbone playing in central midfield, forced their second equaliser of the game when Lee Peltier headed into his own net with 10 minutes to go.

Bristol City fans chanted for the dismissal of manager Nigel Pearson after a goal in each half from Matt Phillips and Brandon Thomas-Asante gave West Brom a 2-0 win at Ashton Gate.

The visitors took a ninth-minute lead when Phillips got behind Zak Vyner to run onto a Conor Townsend through ball and confidently clipped a shot past Ireland international goalkeeper Max O’Leary.

Substitute Thomas-Asante doubled the advantage after 75 minutes, coolly chipping the out-of-position O’Leary from outside the box after finding another yawning gap in City’s fragile defence.

West Brom had centre back Dara O’Shea and midfielder Jayson Molumby in the spine of their team, while in the two early afternoon kick-offs, Millwall edged into the play-off spots with a 2-0 win away to 10-man Watford, while Sunderland came from behind to keep their play-off hopes alive as they beat promotion-chasing Blackburn Rovers 2-1.

Meanwhile, in League One, Mark Kennedy’s Lincoln City were beaten 3-0 away to Burton Albion as they remain in 14th place.

MK Dons, with Dubliner Warren O’Hora playing the full 90 minutes and former Bohemians midfielder Dawson Devoy introduced just after the hour, beat Forest Green Rovers 1-0 to edge one-point closer to safety in the relegation zone.

The top two in the third tier, leaders Plymouth Argyle and second-placed Ipswich Town, both had wins over Cheltenham Town and Oxford United, respectively.

Former Sligo Rovers goalkeeper Ed McGinty was making his first league start for Oxford since leaving the Bit O’Red but it was a tough debut in a 3-0 defeat.

In League Two, Dubliner Paddy Madden scored a 55th-minute opener for Stockport County as they beat Crew Alexandra 2-0 to move to within four points of the play-off spots.

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