Middlesbrough steal a march in race to the Premier League

Middlesbrough stole a march on their Championship promotion rivals as they returned to the top of the table a 1-0 win against lowly Wigan Athletic on Friday.

Middlesbrough steal a march in race to the Premier League

London: Middlesbrough stole a march on their Championship promotion rivals as they returned to the top of the table a 1-0 win against lowly Wigan Athletic on Friday.

With Bournemouth and Watford not playing their games against Ipswich Town and Derby County respectively until later in the day, Aitor Karanka`s side kept themselves firmly in the hunt for automatic promotion to the Premier League 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 see off second-bottom Wigan and send Middlesbrough two points clear.

It was also a good afternoon for Norwich City, who are out of the top two only 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 thrashing of west London rivals Fulham.

The Bees surged into a two-goal lead thanks to Stuart Dallas`s brace.

Ross McCormack`s penalty got the struggling Cottagers back in it with 20 minutes to go, but late efforts from Alan Judge and Ramallo Jota ensured Brentford romped to a memorable victory.

Wolverhampton Wanderers also climbed back into the play-off places with an impressive 2-1 win at Nottingham Forest.

Kenny Jackett`s side 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 despite Dexter Blackstock`s late strike.

Millwall breathed fresh life into their survival fight with a 2-1 win against 10-man Charlton Athletic in a dramatic south London derby at The Den.

Neil Harris`s side missed a first-half opportunity to take the lead when Lee Gregory`s spot-kick was saved after Charlton defender Chris Solly was sent off for handling on the line.

Alou Diarra put Charlton ahead midway through the second half, but third-bottom Millwall hit back to equalise through former Everton winger Magaye Gueye before on-loan Southampton defender Jos Hooiveld struck in the 87th minute to give the hosts their first home win of 2015.

Elsewhere, fourth-bottom Rotherham United`s plight is more precarious after they went down 2-1 at Birmingham City.

Bournemouth will have the chance to reclaim top spot when they take on Ipswich, while Watford make the trip to promotion rivals Derby.