Football League: Sheffield United go second but Portsmouth slip up

  • Reading give Gomes first win against nine-man Forest
  • Bury mount epic late comeback to beat MK Dons


After Leeds – spying row and all – extended their lead on Friday night, a late equaliser from Norwich’s Jordan Rhodes in a 1-1 draw at West Brom meant it was all change among the chasing pack. Sheffield United edged past QPR thanks to David McGoldrick’s header, jumping into second place on goal difference, while Middlesbrough consolidated their position in the play-off places by negotiating a tricky trip to Birmingham, Britt Assombalonga’s late winner clinching a 2-1 victory.

After parting company with Aitor Karanka, Nottingham Forest lost ground on their competitors for the play-offs, Jack Robinson’s farcical own goal capping nine-man Forest’s grim afternoon at Reading – who recorded a much-needed first win under José Gomes.

At the foot of the table, Ipswich got three vital points at home to imperilled Rotherham, Will Keane’s early goal and a backs-to-the-wall second half delivering a glimmer of hope for Paul Lambert’s side, who nonetheless remain seven points from safety. Fellow scramblers Bolton were beaten at Bristol City, where Will Buckley’s smart second-half finish prompted a triple substitution by Lee Johnson; within 10 minutes, two replacements – Matty Taylor and Kasey Palmer – had turned the game around in a 2-1 victory.

Jarrod Bowen added two more goals to an increasingly impressive campaign in Hull’s businesslike 2-0 win against Sheffield Wednesday, while Nathan Jones was brought down to earth in his first game in charge of Stoke, who are now eight points off the play-offs after losing 3-1 against Brentford. A diving header from Michael Jacobs was the highlight of a surprise 3-0 win over Aston Villa that saw Wigan end a bleak run of form and put vital distance between them and the drop zone.

Birmingham 1-2 Middlesbrough; Brentford 3-1 Stoke; Bristol City 2-1 Bolton; Hull 3-0 Sheffield Wednesday; Ipswich 1-0 Rotherham;
Preston 1-1 Swansea; Reading 2-0 Nottingham Forest; Sheffield United 1-0 QPR; West Brom 1-1 Norwich; Wigan 3-0 Aston Villa.

Evening kick-off: Millwall v Blackburn
Friday: Leeds 2-0 Derby

League One

Leaders Portsmouth came unstuck at home to Blackpool, Kenny Jackett’s side unable to find an answer to a second-half goal from Chris Long that ended a six-game winless run for Blackpool, and put extra importance on the showdown between second and third at the Stadium of Light. In the event, neither Sunderland nor Luton Town were able to take full advantage: Chris Maguire’s first-half strike for the hosts was cancelled out by a penalty from James Collins as the managerless Hatters extended their League One unbeaten streak to 14 games. Both teams ended with 10 men.

James Collins fires home his penalty against Sunderland, in front of 37,791 fans.
James Collins fires home his penalty against Sunderland, in front of 37,791 fans. Photograph: Malcolm Mackenzie/ProSports/Rex/Shutterstock

A 20th goal of the season from John Marquis was not enough to keep Doncaster in the play-off spots, his side frittering away a 2-0 lead in the final 15 minutes at out-of-form Wycombe, for whom Paris Cowan-Hall scored his second of the game deep into stoppage-time to seal a remarkable 3-2 win. Barnsley – whose CEO Gauthier Ganaye has been linked with the job at Nice – kept themselves in fifth by sending Bradford away from Oakwell with a 2-0 defeat and their relegation fears deepened.

Wimbledon are still mired to the bottom despite a hard-earned point at Coventry, their increasingly ominous situation not helped by the points picked up by Plymouth, who won 3-2 at Southend, and Oxford United, who battled back from two goals down in a 2-2 draw at Fleetwood. Bristol Rovers clambered out of the drop zone with a goalless draw at Accrington.

Accrington Stanley 0-0 Bristol Rovers; Barnsley 3-0 Bradford City; Burton 2-3 Gillingham; Coventry 1-1 Wimbledon; Fleetwood 2-2
Oxford Utd; Peterborough 2-1 Rochdale; Portsmouth 0-1 Blackpool; Shrewsbury 0-3 Charlton; Southend 2-3 Plymouth; Sunderland 1-1 Luton; Walsall 1-2 Scunthorpe; Wycombe 3-2 Doncaster Rovers

League Two

At the summit, Lincoln let their two-goal lead slip in an eventful 2-2 draw at Swindon. A sending-off either side of half-time left the visitors with nine men and Michael Doughty’s late penalty eventually denied the leaders. Two other promotion hopefuls faced off in a rollercoaster game at Gigg Lane, where Bury scored three times in the last 20 minutes for a 4-3 win over MK Dons. Nicky Adams’ stoppage-time strike capped a dramatic afternoon that saw his side overtake Dons into second and trim Lincoln’s lead to three points.

Bury came out on top in a seven-goal thriller.
Bury came out on top in a seven-goal thriller. Photograph: Mark Pollitt/ProSports/Rex/Shutterstock

At the other end, Macclesfield’s revival under Sol Campbell continued with a 2-0 triumph at Grimsby. The Silkmen’s fifth successive win at Blundell Park opened up a three-point gap above rock-bottom Notts County – beaten at home by fellow strugglers Cambridge United – and kept them in touch with Yeovil, who secured a vital 1-0 win at Mansfield. Morecambe’s goalless draw at Exeter leaves them just ahead of Yeovil, four points clear of the drop zone.

Bury 4-3 MK Dons; Cheltenham 1-3 Tranmere; Crewe 3-2 Newport; Exeter 0-0 Morecambe; Grimsby 0-2 Macclesfield; Mansfield 0-1 Yeovil; Northampton 3-0 Carlisle Utd; Notts County 0-1 Cambridge Utd; Oldham 0-0 Forest Green; Port Vale 0-3 Colchester;
Stevenage 2-1 Crawley; Swindon 2-2 Lincoln City