Championship round-up: Sharp has the edge over Saints


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The Independent Football

Any thoughts that the Championship's top two sides would run away with the league were brought to a shuddering halt as leaders Southampton lost away for a second consecutive week-end and second-placed West Ham United's home form again let them down, spoiling the chance to go top in the process.

Without leading scorer Ricky Lambert the Saints lacked a cutting edge, one thing Doncaster Rovers' Billy Sharp had when he connected with Marc-Antoine Fortuné's 60th-minute cutback to earn Rovers the 1-0 win that lifted them off the bottom.

Second-placed West Ham United went ahead at Upton Park, Kevin Nolan scoring from Carlton Cole's flick-on in the 52nd minute. But two headers, by Chris McCann and substitute Sam Vokes, gave Burnley a 2-1 win, their third victory in eight days.

Leeds United's 2-0 defeat of Millwall was dedicated to former player Gary Speed, whose father, Roger, wife, Louise, and sons, Edward and Thomas, were at the ground to see Robert Snodgrass score twice just after the hour. "The biggest tribute we can do is, come April and May, get into the Premier League, where Gary spent a huge amount of his career and was very successful," Simon Grayson, the Leeds manager, said. He and Speed had signed for the club as schoolboys on the same day.

Malaury Martin's 91st-minute free-kick saw Middlesbrough regain third place with a 1-0 win at Bristol City. Brighton are in the top six after substitute Will Buckley's injury-time goal beat Nottingham Forest 1-0, Forest slipping into the bottom three. Also on the fringes of the play-off places, Blackpool beat Reading 1-0 at Bloomfield Road, Callum McManaman scoring.

"Atrocious", "a joke" and "weak-minded" were three of Coventry City manager Andy Thorne's assessments of his side after they lost 2-1 at Portsmouth, and slipped to bottom. Ipswich Town lost for the seventh match in a row, a Mark Sordell penalty and Troy Deeney's strike giving Watford a 2-1 away win. Barnsley led 3-0 at Peterborough United, but Posh clawed it back to 3-3 until Craig Davies's sixth goal in as many games earned the Tykes a 4-3 win.


English clubs' Champions' League opponents were in good form as they warmed up for make-or-break clashes in midweek. Valencia, who face Chelsea, beat Espanyol 2-1. Bayern Munich looked in fine fettle to take on Manchester City as they thrashed Werder Bremen 4-1, with Franck Ribéry and Arjen Robben scoring two each. Basle take on City's neighbours United after edging Lucerne 1-0. Olympiakos, who face already qualified Arsenal, beat Panaitolikos 2-0.