Championship roundup: Philip Billing double keeps Bournemouth on track | Championship


Bournemouth and Nottingham Forest both recorded resounding victories to tee up their second versus third meeting at the Vitality Stadium on Tuesday, as the race for automatic promotion and play-off places goes the distance.

Dominic Solanke’s 30th goal of the season and two emphatic finishes from Philip Billing gave Bournemouth a dominant 3-0 win at Blackburn to keep them in the driving seat for second place. The result extinguished Blackburn’s faint play-off hopes, with the damage done in a run of 16 games that yielded 13 points, taking them from second to ninth.

“It was definitely a high-pressure game,” said the Bournemouth manager, Scott Parker. “I think first and foremost, the result was key. Performance really is secondary at this point of the season. We got a result and also a performance really. I thought the team executed everything we asked of them.”

Sam Surridge, meanwhile, struck a fine hat-trick to help Forest keep up the pressure with a thumping 5-1 win over Swansea. The striker has now scored seven Championship goals since his £2.2m signing from Stoke in January, but few will have been more precious than the three that helped Steve Cooper secure a vital win over his former club.

Sam Surridge after giving Forest a 2-1 lead.
Sam Surridge after giving Forest a 2-1 lead. Photograph: Matthew Lewis/Getty Images

A Cyrus Christie own goal was cancelled out by Michael Obafemi to leave it 1-1 at half-time, but Surridge’s second-half treble – and a late goal from substitute Alex Mighten – ensured Forest will head to Bournemouth still trailing Scott Parker’s side by just three points.

“It was obviously a brilliant win. I am very grateful to the players for sticking to the game plan,” said the Forest manager, Steve Cooper. “We were very happy for Swansea to have the ball, because that is what they do. But they also concede a lot of chances and give away a lot of goals. It should have been 5-1 at half-time, with the chances we created. I don’t say that with any disrespect.”

Huddersfield, who have just one game remaining, guaranteed a top-four finish with an entertaining 2-1 win at Coventry. Harry Toffolo scored his fourth in six games on the stroke of half-time to put the Terriers ahead, and Tino Anjorin then made the game safe with a composed penalty 11 minutes from time. Viktor Gyokeres pulled back a consolation goal in stoppage time.

A double from Matt Crooks helped Middlesbrough keep their play-off hopes alive with a 3-1 win against Stoke. Lewis Baker scored a first-half own goal and Crooks struck in each half before Nick Powell scored a late consolation for the Potters. Boro remain seventh and now need to win their final game at Preston to have any chance of catching Luton or Sheffield United in the top six.

Matt Crooks after his first goal.
Matt Crooks after his first goal. Photograph: Varley Picture Agency/Rex

Millwall also still have a slim chance ahead of the final weekend, with a 3-0 thrashing of already-relegated Peterborough leaving them a point behind Middlesbrough, and three off Sheffield United in sixth. Benik Afobe, George Saville and a Josh Knight own goal sealed the points.

West Brom’s disappointing season at least moved towards its close on a positive note with a 1-0 victory at lowly Reading. Steve Bruce’s side secured the win in the 78th minute when leading scorer Karlan Grant pounced after a quick break.

Bristol City’s three-pronged attack tore Hull apart in a thumping 5-0 victory at Ashton Gate. By the 35th minute, Andreas Weimann, Antoine Semenyo and Chris Martin had all found the back of the net, with Weimann and Martin adding further goals in the second half.

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League Two: Exeter on top, Rovers leave it late

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Exeter took top spot from Forest Green, and took automatic promotion out of Northampton‘s hands with a 1-1 draw at Sixfields. Mitch Pinnock’s superb opener gave the hosts a half-time lead, but Sam Nombe’s leveller means that either Port Vale (at home to Newport) or Mansfield (at Salford) can climb to third with a victory on Monday.

Forest Green are off the top for the first time since September after a 3-1 home defeat to Harrogate. Both sides scored a penalty in the first half before Jack Diamond and Lloyd Curry earned victory for the visitors. Bristol Rovers are up to fourth, level on points with Northampton, after fighting back from two goals down to beat Rochdale 4-3, Aaron Collins completing his hat-trick in the 95th minute.

Swindon climbed into the play-off positions after goals from Josh Davison and Louie Reed earned them a 2-1 home win over Barrow. The Robins climb above Sutton, whose 19-game unbeaten run was ended in emphatic fashion by Bradford City. Charles Vernam scored twice for Mark Hughes’ side as they ran out 4-1 winners.

Tranmere kept their play-off hopes alive, and heaped more misery on relegated Oldham, with a comfortable 2-0 win at Prenton Park. Bottom club Scunthorpe drew 1-1 at home to Hartlepool, and Carlisle won their last home game of the season, beating Stevenage 2-1 at Brunton Park. Leyton Orient won their mid-table battle at Crawley 2-0, while Freddie Sears scored twice as Colchester drew 2-2 with Walsall.

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Preston responded to last Monday’s loss at Blackburn as they swept aside relegated Barnsley 3-1. Barnsley took the lead in the 17th minute through Aiden Marsh but Preston hit back with a Daniel Johnson double and a third from Emil Riis Jakobsen.

Derby put on a show for their travelling fans as they beat Blackpool 2-0 at Bloomfield Road. More than 4,000 County fans made the trip for the club’s final away game of the Championship season. The Rams took the lead through Michael Ebiowei’s strike 15 minutes from time and then doubled their advantage through an Eiran Cashin header.

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Former Cardiff keeper Neil Etheridge’s blunder earned his old club a 1-1 home draw with Birmingham. Etheridge grabbed Bluebirds substitute Max Watters around his waist to concede an 82nd-minute penalty that was then converted by Will Vaulks to cancel out Jeremie Bela’s first-half goal for the visitors.

In League One, Wigan and Rotherham were promoted to the Championship as Plymouth missed out on the playoffs. MK Dons, Sheffield Wednesday, Sunderland and Wycombe will now fight for the third promotion place.



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