Championship round-up: Kebe keeps Royals in touch as Cardiff make their move

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The Independent Football

With games in hand on the second-placed Birmingham City, a solid run of wins would see either Reading or Cardiff City snatch an automatic promotion place. The Royals are best placed having ended a poor run of Championship form with a midweek win at Sheffield Wednesday and the third-placed side negotiated another tricky trip to pick up a point from a 2-2 draw at Plymouth Argyle.

The Devon side led twice through Paul Gallagher, his fifth goal in four matches, and Jamie Mackie, but each time Reading found an answer. First Alex Pearce headed in Marek Matejovsky's cross and, with 10 minutes remaining, Jimmy Kebe, set up by Shane Long's header, scored to earn a point. Reading are four points off second place with two games in hand.

Cardiff City, three games in hand and eight points adrift, moved up to fourth after a comfortable 3-0 home win over Doncaster Rovers. Goals by Michael Chopra, his fifth in seven games, Jay Bothroyd, with a powerful drive, and Eddie Johnson accounting for Rovers. "We showed two sides of our game," the satisfied Cardiff manager, Dave Jones, said. "Some super football for an hour before changing slightly just to close the game down."

Sheffield United made it 13 away games without defeat but slipped to fifth when they were held 0-0 at Queens Park Rangers with the Blades goalkeeper Paddy Kenny's saves making him "the best goalkeeper in the Championship" according to his manager Kevin Blackwell.

Preston North End hung on to the final play-off berth despite losing 2-1 at Crystal Palace. The goalscoring was squeezed into a five minute spell around the half-hour as Billy Jones put the visitors ahead, but Palace, who had not scored for six hours, replied quickly. Anthony Stokes, on loan from Sunderland, fired in the first, Neil Danns slid in the second from Paul Ifill's cross.

Just outside the top six, Jason Scotland's 17th League goal of the season earned Swansea City a point from a 1-1 draw at Nottingham Forest, but Bristol City lost ground after losing 2-1 at Derby County. The Rams went ahead after 52 seconds, Mile Sterjovski intercepting a loose pass to cross for Chris Porter to score at the far post. City dominated, equalising in the 83rd minute when Gavin Williams fired in, but County responded at once, Rob Hulse volleying in his 15th goal of the season to seal the win. "The most pleasing three points since I have been here," said the Rams manager, Nigel Clough. "It was the way we achieved it without playing great."

Brett Ormerod's wind-assisted opener, his 100th League goal, and a deft Charlie Adam chip saw Blackpool ease their relegation worries with a 2-0 defeat of imperilled Norwich City at Bloomfield Road. "It's the first time for a long time that we have played such good football," Pool's relieved caretaker manager Tony Parkes said.

First played last in League One with a predictable outcome as leaders Leicester City thumped Cheltenham Town 4-0. Second-placed Peterborough United won 2-1 at Hartlepool United. The new Brighton manager, Russell Slade, lost his first match in charge when the Seagulls conceded an 88th-minute goal at Leyton Orient, Sean Thornton on target, to lose 2-1.

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