League round-up: Boro and West Ham fluff their lines

Both Middlesbrough and West Ham United spurned the chance to go level on points with Championship leaders Southampton, although Boro have the satisfaction of starting 2012 in the automatic promotion places after a 1-1 home draw with Peterborough United lifted them above the east Londoners.

Boro led through Scott McDonald's 51st-minute header, but three minutes from time Tommy Rowe, with another header, earned Posh a point. "That felt like a defeat," the Boro manager Tony Mowbray said.

Ravaged by injuries and suspensions, West Ham's slow start at Derby County saw Callum Ball and Paul Green on target in the first 10 minutes to set up the Rams' 2-1 win. "We were putting a team out that was patched up and the last thing we wanted to do was to give the opposition a couple of goals," Hammers manager Sam Allardyce said.

Kenny Miller's header early in the second half saw Cardiff City, fourth, win 1-0 at imperilled Nottingham Forest, and another header, by Reading's Alex Pearce, gave the Royals the 1-0 win over Ipswich Town which lifted them to fifth. Hull City slipped to sixth after a 1-0 defeat at rising Burnley. Birmingham City beat Blackpool 3-0, as the Seasiders' captain, Barry Ferguson, was sent off in the 55th minute while their manager, Ian Holloway, was dispatched to the stands.

"I normally know when I have done something wrong and on this occasion I hadn't," an incensed Holloway said. "I still believe the officials have."

Last New Year's Day a 3-0 defeat in the south London derby at Millwall left Crystal Palace in relegation peril and saw manager George Burley sacked. A year on, Dougie Freedman's rejuvenated Palace won 1-0, Jermaine Easter on target in the first half.

Marvin Sordell scored twice as Watford brushed aside 10-man Doncaster Rovers 4-1, the Yorkshire side replacing Coventry City, who beat Brighton 2-0, at the bottom. Leicester City drew 1-1 with visitors Portsmouth.

League One

Leaders Charlton Athletic had goalkeeper Ben Hamer sent off for deliberate handball when he rushed from his area after six minutes at Leyton Orient. Matthew Spring gave the hosts a 25th-minute lead as the Latics slipped to a rare defeat, 1-0.

League Two

Third-placed Southend United won in the League for the first time since 19 November, 4-1 at 10-man AFC Wimbledon.