League round-up: Thomas the engine of Albion's charge

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The Independent Football

West Bromwich Albion powered back to the top of the Championship with a clinical 4-1 defeat of Bristol City at the Hawthorns. First-half goals via Jerome Thomas's solo run and shot and Chris Brunt's fifth of the season put Albion in charge. Two minutes after the break Louis Carey fired into his own net, and Simon Cox added the fourth in the next minute.

"You can't be higher than top so after 17 games we can be pleased," the Baggies' manager, Roberto Di Matteo, said. "But we will not be getting complacent. It is still very close at the top and two bad games can put you right back in the mix."

Leroy Lita's fifth-minute goal was Middlesbrough's first in three games under Gordon Strachan, but Nottingham Forest substitute Rob Earnshaw's second-half free-kick denied Boro and it ended 1-1. "It's not been a great three weeks for the players, for me or for the fans," Strachan admitted. "We have to find a formation that gives us more of a goal threat. At the moment I can't put my finger on it."

Leicester City and Watford made the biggest gains in the top half. Andy King's injury-time goal saw Leicester beat Plymouth Argyle 1-0 and jump to third as Argyle slip into the bottom three, while the Hornets' Heidar Helguson headed in two goals and Danny Graham added the third as they beat Scunthorpe United 3-0.

But Cardiff City, Queens Park Rangers and Blackpool all stumbled. Carl Dickinson's late goal gave Barnsley a 1-0 win over Cardiff, while Billy Sharp's close-in finish and Dean Sheils' deflected effort saw Doncaster Rovers overcome Rangers 2-0. Substitute Grzegorz Rasiak's 82nd-minute header gave Reading a first home win since January as they beat Pool 2-1.

Ipswich Town made it five draws in six unbeaten games after a 0-0 home stalemate with Sheffield Wednesday, while Darren Ambrose's 11th goal of season gave Crystal Palace the lead at Coventry City. But Leon Best headed his eighth goal of the season to earn the Sky Blues a point from a 1-1 draw.

League One

Jermaine Beckford scored his 12th League goal of the season as Leeds United defeated Gus Poyet's Brighton 3-0 at the Withdean to open up a six-point lead. Huddersfield Town jump to third after they came from behind to beat Hartlepool 2-1. At the bottom, Wycombe won for the first time in 15 matches, and under Gary Waddock, when Chris Westwood and Kevin Betsy found the target in their 2-0 victory over Millwall at the New Den.

League Two

Bournemouth are back on top, Brett Pitman scoring twice after missing a penalty in a 2-1 win at Macclesfield. Dagenham & Redbridge slipped to third after a 2-1 home loss to Rochdale, who move up to second.


Rangers lead the Scottish Premier after brushing aside Kilmarnock 3-0, Kris Boyd, Kenny Miller and Steven Whittaker scoring in the first 35 minutes. Bottom club Falkirk won for the first time this season, 2-0 at home to Hamilton, and are now a point behind the Accies.