Championship focus: Automatic promotion spots far from settled

Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images

This week will go a long way toward deciding the field for the promotion playoffs, as well a perhaps the automatic promotion berths, as the Championship contests three April match days.

With matches looming between Burnley and Cardiff and Derby and Hull, there’s plenty to like about Tuesday and next weekend, though Saturday provided us plenty to chew on.

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Burnley and Brighton’s high-profile draw allowed Middlesbrough to pull into second, three points shy of first with a match-in-hand on the Clarets. All that and more in focus, here:

Brighton 2-2 Burnley

The host Seagulls looked set to leap to the top of the table after carrying a 2-1 lead from halftime deep into stoppage time. But Michael Keane headed in an 93rd minute equalizer to keep the Clarets atop the table. Andre Gray scored his 23rd goal of the year for Burnley, and he could be a joy to watch in the Premier League next season should the Clarets keep hold of their promotion pace.

QPR 2-3 Middlesbrough

With Sunderland and Newcastle favored for Premier League relegation, Boro could be the only PL side in Northeast England next year. Grant Leadbitter missed a penalty in this one, but Gaston Ramirez scored off the ensuing corner to put in a silver lining.

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Hull City 4-0 Bristol City

Four Premier League veterans helped Steve Bruce‘s Tigers move 7 points back of first place and 7 points clear of 7th place, with Charlie Davies, Robert Snodgrass, Mohamed Diame and Sone Aluko all scoring in the blowout.

Cardiff City 2-1 Derby County

Watch out! Cardiff has moved to within two points of the final playoff spot, currently held by Saturday’s visitors.¬†Bruno Ecuele Manga and Stuart O'Keefe scored for Vincent Tan’s Bluebirds.

Wolverhampton 0-0 Ipswich Town
Bolton 0-1 Reading
Rotherham 2-1 Leeds United
Fulham 2-1 MK Dons
Huddersfield Town 0-1 Sheffield Wednesday
Nottingham Forest 0-3 Brentford
Blackburn 1-2 Preston North End
Charlton 2-1 Birmingham City