Championship review

Saints, Hammers pull clear

January 14, 2012
By ESPN staff

Southampton and West Ham tightened their grip on the automatic promotion places in the Championship with wins away to Nottingham Forest and Portsmouth respectively. Their nearest challengers dropped points: Cardiff were held at Doncaster and Middlesbrough surprisingly suffered defeat at home to Burnley.

Mark Noble
GettyImagesMark Noble celebrates scoring for West Ham

Leaders Southampton stayed top on goal difference with a comprehensive 3-0 triumph against Nottingham Forest at the City Ground. Striker David Connolly did little to ingratiate himself to the home fans: he was the man caught in the face by an arm from Luke Chambers, who saw red, then he got on the scoresheet himself. The Saints' other strikes came from Guly do Prado and Morgan Schneiderlin.

Second-placed West Ham edged out ten-man Portsmouth 1-0 in a tense affair at Fratton Park. Mark Noble scored the only goal of the game from the penalty spot following a foul on Winston Reid, while David Norris was sent off for the hosts.

There was disappointment for Cardiff as they were frustrated in a 0-0 draw at Doncaster, while goals from Kieran Trippier and Jay Rodriguez of Burnley put Middlesbrough to the sword. Boro's 2-0 defeat meant they suffered back-to-back league defeats for the first time since February.

Birmingham recorded their first away triumph in eight attempts with some style, battering Millwall 6-0. Chris Hughton's side led 1-0 through Curtis Davies' strike when Shane Lowry was sent off for an altercation with Nikola Zigic. After that, the goals rained down, with Marlon King (two), Adam Rooney and Nathan Redmond on the scoresheet.

Ipswich threw away a two-goal lead in their 2-2 draw against Blackpool at Portman Road. The Tractor Boys, who had lost 11 of their last 14 heading into the match, looked on course for a much-needed win when a Martinez Angel own goal and Tommy Smith strike put them two-up - but Elliot Grandin and Kevin Phillips notched to heap further woe on Ipswich boss Paul Jewell.

Crystal Palace followed up their midweek Carling Cup heroics with a frustrating 1-1 draw at home to Leeds. Palace, who had Sean Scannell sent off, took the lead through Chris Martin early on, only to be pegged back by Robert Snodgrass' equaliser.

Nicky Barmby's first game as permanent Hull boss was one to savour, as the Tigers defeated Peterborough 1-0 through Robert Koren's goal.

Barnsley striker Andy Gray grabbed a brace - one either side of Lloyd Dyer's goal - as the Tykes triumphed 2-1 away to Leicester.

Inigo Calderon and Will Buckley were on target as Brighton got the better of Bristol City with a 2-0 success.

Callum Ball scored the only goal of the game as Derby beat basement club Coventry 1-0.