Championship round-up: Royals look flush as Hunts develop taste for Clarets

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The Independent Football

Reading's dazzling burst of form shows no sign of abating, their 3-1 defeat of Burnley, taking their Championship goal haul to 10 in eight days and 26 in 10 matches. The Royals followed Tuesday's 3-0 win at Wolves with a similarly confident disposal of the Clarets, Noel Hunt nodding in brother Stephen's cross for the first goal, Stephen heading Reading's second and Shane Long adding the third just after the hour.

Noel was injured by his "brave header," his manager Steve Coppell reported, "shame he can't remember it. He's got concussion. Like all teams who have been relegated, we have had to re-adjust," he added. "We are re-adjusting but we are still very much a target for a lot of sides."

The Royals are third, three points behind new leaders Birmingham City, whose dull match at St Andrews was decided in first-half extra time when Garry O'Connor's cross from the left was tapped in by Kevin Phillips, his fourth goal of the season, to earn Alex McLeish's side a 1-0 win over Queens Park Rangers.

Deposed leaders Wolves, suffering from the loss to injury of wingers Michael Kightly and Matt Jarvis, lost for the second time this week, 3-1 at Swansea City. Jordi Gomez put the Swans ahead after 26 seconds and, after Andy Keogh levelled, Jason Scotland scored twice as the South Wales side moved up to seventh.

Both Sheffield sides forced their way into the top six in midweek but only United stayed there, James Beattie scoring twice in the Blades' 3-0 defeat of Bristol City at Bramall Lane. But Wednesday's away form again betrayed them as they lost 4-0 at Plymouth Argyle, the second goal being scored by Paul Gallagher, on-loan from Blackburn Rovers and the catalyst for Argyle's rise to a top six place.

Performance of the day? Possibly in the bottom three where Barnsley hosted Doncaster Rovers in the South Yorkshire derby. The Tykes trailed after 11 minutes to a penalty and had defender Darren Moore sent off after 49, but the 10 men rallied remarkably to thrash Rovers 4-1, Stephen Foster, who had given away the penalty, Jamal Campbell-Ryce, Jon Macken and Iain Hume scoring. The only side below Rovers, Nottingham Forest, lost 2-0 to Crystal Palace at the City Ground, Palace's first away win this season.

On a good day for 10-men sides, Derby County were winning 1-0 at Norwich City when goalkeeper Roy Carroll was sent off for a foul on Leroy Lita. Sammy Clingan's subsequent penalty made it 1-1, but Nathan Ellington struck to give the Rams a 2-1 win.

The point Cardiff City earned from a 1-1 draw at Blackpool edged them into the top six. Paul Parry appeared to have won all three with a goal seven minutes from time, but in the fourth minute of time added on substitute Alan Gow, on loan from Rangers, fired in left-footed for the Seasiders. "Hard to swallow," Cardiff manager David Jones said of the scoreline.

Watford put their financial squabbles aside to beat Preston North End 2-1 at Vicarage Road, Tommy Smith's 50th goal for the Hornets the winner, and Charlton Athletic beat poor travellers Ipswich Town by the same score.

In League Two, Rotherham United moved into credit, their 4-1 defeat of Grimsby Town, wiping off their 17 penalised points to give them one, two behind the Mariners.

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