Patrick Bamford’s goal puts Middlesbrough two points clear in Championship
Norwich keep up promotion hopes while Bournemouth secure late draw against Ipswich
Middlesbrough’s Patrick Bamford celebrates his goal against Wigan with Albert Adomah during the Championship match at the Riverside Stadium. Photograph: Richard Sellers/PA
English Championship round-up: Middlesbrough took advantage of playing before their promotion rivals by returning to the top of the Sky Bet Championship with a 1-0 win over struggling Wigan.
With Bournemouth and Watford not kicking off their games against Ipswich and Derby respectively until later on, Boro stole a march on their rivals thanks to Patrick Bamford’s 17th strike of the season.
The on-loan Chelsea striker bent a low effort into the bottom corner in the 20th minute and that was enough to send Boro two points clear at the summit.
The defeat for Wigan, who squandered second-half chances, leaves them five points adrift of safety.
A powerful header from substitute Kenwyne Jones rescued a point for Bournemouth in a 1-1 draw against fellow promotion hopefuls Ipswich.
The home side took a ninth-minute lead after some lacklustre defending allowed Freddie Sears to calmly open the scoring.
Bournemouth, who started the day at the top of the Championship, responded in positive fashion but couldn’t find a way past Ipswich goalkeeper Bartosz Bialkowski.
At the other end, Artur Boric made a crucial block from Luke Varney before the equaliser finally came eight minutes from time.
It was also a good afternoon for Norwich who are kept out of the top two on goal difference alone after a 1-0 win at Brighton.
It was exactly one year ago this weekend when the Canaries sacked Chris Hughton, but there was to be no revenge for the Brighton boss as his new side were downed by Bradley Johnson’s cool finish just after the hour.
Brentford also moved back into the top six after a 4-1 win over local rivals Fulham.
The Bees surged into a two-goal lead thanks to Stuart Dallas’s brace, grabbing a goal in either half with two fine finishes.
Ross McCormack’s penalty got the Cottagers back in it with 20 minutes to go but a stunning free-kick from Dubliner Alan Judge and another late effort from Ramallo Jota settled it for the Bees.
Wolves made their move into the top six with an impressive 2-1 win at Nottingham Forest.
Kenny Jackett’s men went in front just 20 seconds after the restart with a fine effort from distance by Benik Afobe and Bakary Sako’s 72nd-minute penalty ensured they moved up to sixth in the league despite Dexter Blackstock’s late strike.
Millwall breathed fresh life into their survival fight with a late 2-1 come-from-behind win against 10-man Charlton.
Elsewhere, Rotherham’s plight is more precarious now after they went down 2-1 at Birmingham.