Championship: Cherries stay top after Fulham stroll

Championship: Cherries stay top after Fulham stroll

Bournemouth remain on course for the Premier League after the surprise Championship leaders cruised to a 2-0 win over Fulham on Friday.

Eddie Howe`s team maintained their one-point lead over second-placed Ipswich as goals from Brett Pitman and Harry Arter saw off Fulham at Dean Court.

The Cherries have now won nine successive second tier matches and were always in control from the moment Pitman sent a glancing header into the top corner past Marcus Bettinelli from Matt Ritchie`s eighth-minute cross.

Five minutes after the break Bournemouth wasted a gift-wrapped chance to double their lead from the penalty spot.

Callum Wilson`s pace took him in from the left before Jack Grimmer bought him down.

But Pitman drilled his spot-kick straight at Fulham goalkeeper Bettinelli.

Arter clinched the points in stoppage-time when he ran deep into Fulham territory before sending a left-foot shot into the bottom corner.

"The challenge for us going forward is to stay there. Everyone wants to knock us off," Howe said.

"We are a scalp now. We faced that situation in the past couple of weeks now. We`re a lot more well-known now, so the element of surprise has gone.

"But we were always going to have to cross that bridge and the players are going to come under more pressure now in different ways."

Ipswich continued their charge for automatic promotion with a 4-2 win at Brentford.

A brace from Daryl Murphy and one apiece from Paul Anderson and Tommy Smith were too much the fifth-placed Bees.

Brentford substitute Sam Saunders added some respectability to the scoreline with two late strikes, but it was always a canter for the Tractor Boys as they picked up their 12th league win of the season.

"To get a start like that against a team that`s been dominant at home gives you a major advantage," Ipswich boss Mick McCarthy said.

"Brentford are a really good team and they were pressing to get back in the game, took chances and left Murph one-on-one which is always a mistake."

Derby are in third place, two points behind Ipswich, after goals from Jordon Ibe, Chris Martin, Craig Forsyth and Johnny Russell clinched a 4-0 win at Birmingham.Middlesbrough scored three times in the second half to record a 3-0 win over 10-man Nottingham Forest in front of their biggest home crowd in five years at the Riverside Stadium.

An attendance of 32,277 turned out as the Teessiders bounced back from their defeat at Ipswich last week with an impressive display against Stuart Pearce`s side, who have now gone five games without a win.

After a goalless first half, George Friend, Jelle Vossen and Grant Leadbitter all found the net to keep Boro fourth, while Forest defender Kelvin Wilson was dismissed midway through the second half.

Former Liverpool striker Emile Heskey scored his first goal in England for 40 months as Bolton came from behind to beat Blackburn 2-1.

Heskey, who recently had an unsuccessful trial with Blackburn, netted just 14 minutes into his Wanderers debut before Darren Pratley`s second goal in a week extended Wanderers` unbeaten run to eight games.

Elsewhere, Norwich boosted their challenge for a play-off place with a 6-1 thrashing of Millwall at Carrow Road.

Inigo Calderon hit a 90th minute equaliser to give managerless Brighton a 2-2 draw against Reading, who blew a two-goal lead given to them by former Seagulls forward Glenn Murray inside 26 minutes.

Sheffield Wednesday beat Blackpool 1-0, Wigan won 2-0 at Leeds, Rotherham drew 2-2 with Huddersfield and Charlton drew 1-1 with Cardiff.

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