Championship roundup: Manuel Benson puts Burnley six points clear | Championship

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Manuel Benson scored twice, making up for an earlier costly error, as Vincent Kompany’s Burnley moved six points clear at the top of the Championship with a 3-1 win over Middlesbrough.

The 25-year-old winger was on the mark twice in seven second-half minutes, having gifted Michael Carrick’s visitors the opening goal of the game just after half-time at Turf Moor. That Boro goal, scored by the substitute Duncan Watmore, came as Benson attempted to keep a loose ball in play on the halfway line. He succeeded only in hooking the ball blindly back towards his own goal, allowing Watmore to race through and convert.

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Benson made amends on the hour, cutting past the full-back Ryan Giles before scoring the equaliser with a low, left-footed drive past Zack Steffen. Seven minutes later, he put Burnley in front when his dangerous right-wing cross was misjudged by Steffen and bounced in off the inside of the far post. Burnley then made it three goals in 12 minutes from Josh Brownhill’s 72nd-minute corner, with Jonny Howson flicking the ball into his own net as he attempted to clear.

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League One: Plymouth go top after Wycombe’s Hanlan downs Ipswich


Plymouth moved to the top as goals from Niall Ennis and Sam Cosgrove secured a 2-1 victory over rock-bottom Morecambe at Home Park.

After Morgan Whittaker’s 44th-minute penalty was saved by Connor Ripley, Argyle grabbed the lead with 20 minutes remaining when Ennis finished at the near post from a Ryan Hardie cross and Cosgrove then added a second after 84 minutes. 

Anthony O’Connor pulled a goal back for Morecambe in stoppage time, but Steven Schumacher’s side held out for the win to go two points clear at the summit. They replaced Ipswich, who lost 1-0 at Wycombe, with Brandon Hanlan scoring in the 40th minute. 

Sheffield Wednesday are two points behind Ipswich in third after they drew 0-0 with Oxford at Hillsborough, who were denied victory when Cameron Dawson kept out a Josh Murphy penalty in the seventh minute of stoppage time. 

Devante Cole scored in each half as fourth-placed Barnsley beat struggling Burton 2-0 at Oakwell, the Tykes’ fifth successive league victory.

Bolton, in fifth, also won 2-0 at home, beating Exeter, with Conor Bradley and Dion Charles scoring in the first half. 

David McGoldrick helped himself to a hat-trick as Derby moved into the play-off places with a 4-0 thumping of Forest Green at Pride Park.

McGoldrick’s treble, capped with an 87th-minute effort, came after Nathaniel Mendez-Laing had put the Rams ahead five minutes into the contest. 

MK Dons won in their first league match since sacking manager Liam Manning, triumphing 2-0 at Portsmouth.

Bradley Johnson and Jack Tucker got the goals as the Dons, under Dean Lewington’s interim management, moved up a place to 22nd, swapping spots with Burton. 

Charlton, also managerless after dismissing Ben Garner, led at home against Bristol Rovers before being defeated 2-1.

Ryan Inniss headed the Addicks in front before the visitors hit back through a second-half brace from substitute John Marquis. 

Cheltenham v Lincoln, Fleetwood v Cambridge United, Peterborough v Shrewsbury and Port Vale v Accrington were all postponed due to frozen pitches. PA Media

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There was late drama when, in the final minute of normal time, Boro were awarded a penalty and Connor Roberts shown a straight red card when the Burnley defender was judged to have punched Chuba Akpom’s header off the line after it had struck the crossbar. But Akpom’s spot-kick was saved well by Arijanet Muric, diving smartly low to his right, and Burnley could celebrate victory.

A second-half double from João Pedro earned Watford a 2-0 win over bottom-placed Huddersfield at the John Smith’s Stadium. Slaven Bilic’s side sat back in the opening period as Huddersfield dominated possession but rarely troubled the visitors’ goal.

The Watford forward Keinan Davis was unlucky not to be awarded a penalty midway through the first half after being hauled back in the area, and they should have taken the lead before the break when João Pedro somehow missed from close range. But he made up for that early in the second half, scoring from eight yards out, before a late second from a corner with four minutes remaining sealed the points.

João Pedro lashes home Watford’s opener.
João Pedro lashes home Watford’s opener. Photograph: Will Matthews/PA

Blackburn climbed back above Watford into third after beating fifth-placed Norwich 2-0 at Carrow Road in the late match. Ben Gibson’s early own goal put Rovers ahead and Norwich could count themselves unfortunate when Tyrhys Dolan’s shot was deflected in for the visitors’ second four minutes from time.

Neil Critchley enjoyed a perfect return to Championship management as Jimmy Dunne’s second-half strike fired QPR to a much-needed 1-0 win at Preston. Dunne’s 58th-minute goal proved the difference between the two sides as Preston were continually frustrated by the visitors. The result marked the best start possible for the former Blackpool manager Critchley, who replaced Michael Beale at QPR after his high-profile departure to Rangers last month.

The substitute Liam Cullen completed a remarkable comeback as Swansea came from three goals down to salvage a dramatic 3-3 draw against Coventry at the CBS Arena. Jonathan Panzo, Jamie Allen and Viktor Gyokeres put the Sky Blues in the driving seat before Joel Piroe and Jay Fulton reduced the deficit. Cullen had only been on the pitch a matter of seconds when he poked in from close range to complete the turnaround for Swansea, who came into the match without a win in six.

West Brom picked up their fifth successive league victory under their new manager, Carlos Corberán, as they beat Rotherham 3-0. Jed Wallace opened the scoring inside 20 minutes at the Hawthorns, Grady Diangana added another in the 58th minute and the points were secured in the 70th when Brandon Thomas-Asante converted the rebound from a penalty he had won.

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League Two: Orient stretch lead as big freeze hammers fixture list


Leyton Orient stretched their advantage at the top of the table to seven points thanks to a 2-0 win at home to Sutton.

Paul Smyth’s opener just past the hour mark and and an Alistair Smith own-goal sealed Orient’s fourth successive victory. 

In the only other game in the division, Louis Reed scored a seventh-minute penalty to give Swindon a 1-0 win at Barrow and send them up to fourth.

Nine matches gave way to the freezing conditions: Wimbledon v Stevenage, Bradford City v Rochdale, Colchester v Salford City, Doncaster v Harrogate, Hartlepool v Newport, Mansfield v Grimsby, Stockport v Gillingham, Tranmere v Crawley and Walsall v Crewe. PA Media

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Jacob Brown scored a second-half winner as Stoke came from behind to secure a 2-1 victory over Bristol City at Ashton Gate. The hosts took a 33rd-minute lead when Nahki Wells converted from close range for his eighth goal of the season, but Stoke were level in first-half stoppage time when Liam Delap capitalised on a defensive mix-up. The Potters went in front 12 minutes after the break through Brown’s low drive from an angle inside the box after good work from Josh Tymon and Tyrese Campbell.

Gary Madine returned to haunt his former club Cardiff with a second-half equaliser that secured a 1-1 draw for Blackpool. Madine, who failed to find the net in 28 games for the Bluebirds across three seasons after they paid Bolton £6m for the striker in 2017, scored with a deflected header in the 67th minute to rescue a point for the Tangerines, who up to then had been dismal. Cardiff had led through a 36th-minute Kion Etete strike and will be deeply frustrated at letting the victory slip.

Earlier, Cardiff confirmed to the BBC that they had been placed under a transfer embargo after failing to pay the first instalment of the fee owed to the Ligue 1 club Nantes for Emiliano Sala. Sala’s plane crashed in the Channel, killing him as well as the pilot, as the Argentinian travelled to Cardiff after signing for £15m in January 2019.

Cardiff had appealed against a Fifa decision ordering them to pay the first instalment of his transfer fee, which amounted to €6m. The court of arbitration for sport (Cas) said in August that Cardiff had to pay Nantes the first instalment. The Welsh club appealed the Cas decision to a Swiss federal court, with a verdict expected next year.

Cardiff said they are also talking to the English Football League and Fifa to resolve the issue.

Ozan Tufan rescued a point for Hull as they came from behind to draw 1-1 with 10-men Sunderland at the MKM Stadium. The midfielder was the man who lost the ball in the build-up to Ross Stewart’s opener for Sunderland in the 74th minute, with the forward breaking free to slot the ball home on his return from injury. But Tufan’s goal spared some blushes for the home side, who had the numerical advantage for most of the second half following Elliot Embleton’s red card, as he poked a Ryan Woods cross home with just eight minutes remaining.

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