London: Bournemouth kept their dream of reaching English football`s top flight for the first time firmly alive with a gritty 1-0 win at FA Cup semi-finalists Reading on Tuesday.
The south-coast club took the lead through Callum Wilson after four minutes and hung on to stay ahead in the gripping race for promotion to the lucrative Premier League as the Championship pacesetters all won.
"It was a nervy ending with what`s at stake -- we defended for our lives," Bournemouth manager Eddie How told the BBC.
"We showed incredible mental strength to score so early and see the game out the way we did. We are finding new ways to win and I`ll take that at this stage."
Norwich City remained a point behind the leaders with a 2-0 victory at Leeds United, Middlesbrough beat Wolverhampton Wanderers 2-1 to stay a point back in third and playoff contenders Derby County crushed relegated Blackpool 4-0.
The Rams stayed fifth, four points behind fourth-placed Watford who travel to Nottingham Forest on Wednesday.
With three games left the teams finishing first and second will gain automatic promotion to the top flight and a potential cash boost of more than 120 million pounds ($177.28 million). The next four sides play off for the final Premier League place.
Ipswich Town are a point behind Derby in sixth after beating Cardiff City 3-1 but Brentford`s hopes of a second successive promotion took a hit when they lost 1-0 at Sheffield Wednesday.
The west London club are seventh, three points behind Ipswich and level with Wolves.
Bournemouth struck early through Wilson`s 22nd goal of the season at Reading but the hosts tried to put Saturday`s Cup showdown against Arsenal at Wembley out of their minds and battled hard to get back into the game.
Reading pressed strongly for a late equaliser and Bournemouth goalkeeper Artur Boruc was booked for time-wasting before his side held on for another vital victory.
Norwich missed a golden chance to lead at Leeds when Graham Dorrans spurned a first-half penalty but the Scottish midfielder made amends by scoring a late second to seal the win after Jonny Howson had put the East Anglia side ahead.
Middlesbrough, who visit Norwich on Friday, roared out of the blocks with early goals by Jelle Vossen and Patrick Bamford against Wolves but Bakary Sako pulled one back soon after halftime to make the hosts sweat for their win.
League one (third tier) leaders Bristol City thrashed Bradford City 6-0 to guarantee their return to the second tier of English football after a two-year absence.