Reading close in on Premier League return


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Reading can clinch promotion to the Premier League tomorrow if Brian McDermott's side defeat Nottingham Forest and West Ham fail to win at Bristol City, or if the Championship leaders draw and the Hammers lose.

At the foot of the Championship, the Doncaster manager, Dean Saunders, was furious with referee Mick Russell after his side's 4-3 loss to Portsmouth condemned them to relegation.

Greg Halford struck two penalties in the second half for Portsmouth, the circumstances of the first proving pivotal as Habib Beye was dismissed on the hour for a foul on Dave Kitson who fell theatrically. Kitson and Marko Futacs both found the net in the final minute to give crisis-hit Portsmouth victory and a glimmer of hope in their bid for survival. But Saunders blamed Russell for all four goals and even questioned whether he should ever take charge of a game again.

"That's Billy Smart's Circus out there, all four goals," fumed Saunders. "The first goal is an absolute joke. Habib Beye trips Kitson up four yards outside the box. It's not even close.

"I just can't see him [Russell] recovering from it. Let's let his boss and the assessor make that decision as to whether he referees ever again."

In League One, Chris Powell wasovercome with emotion as he hailed a "fantastic day" which saw Charlton Athletic promoted following a 1-0 win at Carlisle, Bradley Wright-Phillips' 22nd goal of the season sealing promotion after third-placed Sheffield Wednesday drew 1-1 at Colchester.

"It's a fantastic day for my players, my supporters and the football club," said the Charlton manager after Saturday's win. "It is a small step forward in our history."

Powell even felt family circumstances contributed to Charlton's success. "It's my mum's birthday as well," he said, "so it seems it was meant to be."

Meanwhile, in the Blue Square Bet Premier, Fleetwood Town manager Micky Mellon praised his players profusely after the club reached the Football League for the first time since they were formed 104 years ago as Conference title rivals Wrexham could only draw 2-2 with Grimsby Town.

Mellon enthused: "Any manager that's ever been successful will tell you that you have to have good players and I'm certainly blessed."

Chairman Andy Pilley believed the team's feat will enhance the town'swell being. "I'm not only delighted for the club but the town because it will create jobs," Pilley said. "It was always my vision when I arrived to see this club in the Football League and now we've done it."

Movers up and down


Doncaster Rovers relegated.

League One

Charlton Athletic promoted.

Blue Square Premier

Fleetwood Town promoted. Woking promoted to Blue Square Premier.