Championship roundup: Archer fires Middlesbrough closer to top two | Championship

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Cameron Archer struck twice against his former club Preston to help seal an impressive 4-0 win for Middlesbrough, reducing the gap on second-placed Sheffield United to just three points.

With the Blades in FA Cup quarter-final action this weekend, Boro took full advantage, with top scorer Chuba Akpom poking a fine finish beyond Freddie Woodman in the 22nd minute – his 25th goal of the season.

Archer’s first arrived in the 52nd minute and his second in the 58th, with Marcus Forss wrapping up the win in stoppage time. Preston’s misery was compounded when defender Bambo Diaby was sent off with two minutes remaining.

Amad Diallo’s 86th-minute penalty saved a point for Sunderland and dented Luton’s automatic promotion hopes in a 1-1 draw at the Stadium of Light. The Hatters looked to be closing to within four points of the top two after Alfie Doughty’s long-range strike opened the scoring at the start of the second half, but having been tugged down by Amari’i Bell in the final five minutes, Diallo dusted himself off to drill home his ninth goal of the season. The Manchester United loanee was one of five second-half substitutes introduced by Tony Mowbray as the Black Cats avoided a second home defeat in the space of four days.

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Plymouth kept the pressure on League One leaders Sheffield Wednesday after a 2-0 victory over struggling Forest Green. Goals from James Bolton and Bali Mumba at Home Park saw Argyle close the gap on top spiot to a point following Wednesday’s 1-1 draw with Bolton on Friday evening. 

Ipswich kept on the coattails of Argyle with a sixth straight victory as they overcame Shrewsbury 2-0. George Hirst and Massimo Luongo got the goals. 

Slobodan Tedic’s first goal for Barnsley with five minutes remaining gave the Tykes a vital 1-0 win at fellow promotion chasers WycombeDerby lost ground after they lost at home for the first time since October with goals from Jayden Stockley and Carlos Mendes Gomes giving Fleetwood a 2-0 win. Peterborough kept their playoff bid on track with a comfortable 3-0 win over Lincoln.

At the other end of the table, MK Dons moved out of the relegation places after Sullay Kaikai’s goal gave them a 1-0 win over Accrington, who dropped into the bottom four. Oxford remain just two points above the relegation zone as Ash Hunter’s late goal earned Morecambe a 1-1 draw, with the Shrimps two points from safety. 

 Elsewhere, Colby Bishop’s double gave Portsmouth a 2-0 win at Bristol RoversCambridge’s survival hopes were hit by a 2-1 defeat by CharltonCheltenham moved eight points clear of the drop zone with a 3-1 win over Exeter and Burton won 2-1 at Port Vale

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Danny Ward scored a second-half winner as Huddersfield claimed a shock 1-0 victory at play-off-chasing Millwall, moving the struggling side closer to safety. It was the Terriers’ third away win of the season and only their second victory since Neil Warnock began his second spell in charge last month. They are now four points behind fourth-from-bottom Rotherham with eight matches to play.

Dominant Stoke drew a blank at home to Norwich in a goalless draw at the bet365 Stadium. The Potters wasted a string of chances, with Norwich relying on a series of smart saves from goalkeeper Angus Gunn. The point stretched Alex Neil’s unbeaten league run to four matches, but the Scot cut a frustrated figure on the touchline.

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Colchester staged a remarkable recovery to secure a point in a 2-2 draw at Leyton Orient.

The hosts had gone in front with goals from George Moncur and Ruel Sotiriou but the visitors snatched two goals in three minutes late on through Connor Hall and Noah Chilvers. 

Second-placed Stevenage and third-placed Carlisle failed to take advantage as they played out a 0-0 draw at Brunton Park, but  Northampton cashed in to move back into the automatic promotion places as Louis Appere scored the game’s only goal midway through the first half in a 1-0 win over Crewe at Sixfields. 

Playoff chasers Stockport and Mansfield cancelled each other out as they drew 1-1 at Edgeley Park.

Luke Bolton scored twice as Salford enhanced their own playoff hopes with a 3-1 win over Doncaster

Andy Cook scored both goal for Bradford as they twice had to come from behind to earn a 2-2 draw with Hartlepool, who netted through Callum Cooke and Dan Kemp. 

In the fight for survival, Ian Henderson levelled in stoppage time as Rochdale played out a remarkable 4-4 draw with Swindon. Charlie Austin netted all four for the Robins. 

Crawley secured a massive win in their own survival battle as Ashley Nadesan’s early strike earned them a first away win of the season – 1-0 at AFC Wimbledon

Elsewhere, Walsall won for the first time in 13 after beating Gillingham 2-0, Newport came away from Tranmere with a 3-1 victory and Harrogate edged out Barrow 1-0.

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Blackpool were brought back down to earth with a bump as they were hammered 4-1 by promotion-chasing Coventry. The Seasiders thumped QPR 6-1 at home on Tuesday night to move within four points of safety but goals from Ben Sheaf, Kyle McFadzean, Matt Godden and an unfortunate own goal from defender Curtis Nelson condemned Mick McCarthy’s side to defeat at Bloomfield Road.

Watford and Wigan drew 1-1 at Vicarage Road, a result which did neither side any favours. James McClean’s 51st-minute goal earned the visitors a point, after Keinan Davis had given the hosts the lead just before half-time. Watford’s coach, Chris Wilder, was shown a yellow card late on after a heated exchange with the Wigan bench.

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QPR’s woes continued as Tahith Chong’s early goal gave Birmingham a 1-0 victory at Loftus Road. Rangers have now lost seven of their past eight matches – and three of their four since Gareth Ainsworth took over. They now sit just six points above the relegation zone, while Birmingham’s win took them nine points clear of danger.

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Reading and Hull drew 1-1, with Andy Carroll cancelling out Regan Slater’s opener for the Tigers, while Rotherham’s match with Cardiff at the New York Stadium was abandoned in the 47th minute due to heavy rain. Cardiff were leading the game 1-0 at the time thanks to Jaden Philogene’s strike.

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