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Brighton take step towards automatic promotion

Photo credit: AFP

Photo credit: AFP

Brighton bolstered their bid for automatic promotion to the Premier League with a 3-1 win at Charlton on Saturday, while Milton Keynes Dons were relegated to the third tier after a 4-1 thrashing by Brentford.

Chris Hughton’s Brighton are third in the Championship but only goal difference is keeping them below leaders Burnley and second placed Middlesbrough with two games remaining in a thrilling finale to the promotion race.

Burnley had moved to the top of the table following a 1-0 victory at Preston on Friday and they remain in pole position after Middlesbrough were held to a 0-0 draw by Ipswich at the Riverside Stadium.

Brighton ignored a protest by fans of relegated Charlton, who delayed the match by several minutes when they threw balloons on the pitch, to take the lead through Sam Baldock.

Jiri Skalak and Tomer Hemed also netted for Brighton after Johann Berg Gudmundsson’s equalizer for Charlton.

“It’s a wonderful position to be in and one we would not have expected to be at this stage of the season,” Hughton said.

“We are all desperate to get promotion in whatever way that is. We certainly deserve to be in there with the two other teams.”

At the other end of the table, third bottom Milton Keynes’ relegation to League One was confirmed in dispiriting fashion.

Nicky Maynard’s early opener gave Dons the perfect start, but goals from Sergi Canos, Lasse Vibe, Ryan Woods and Jake Bidwell ended their one-season stay in the Championship.

“I’m sick really. If I’m being honest, we’ve not been good enough all year,” Milton Keynes Dons manager Karl Robinson said.

“There will be a lot of talking going on in the next seven days for obvious reasons, but certain people will not be here next season.”

Sheffield Wednesday were unable to seal a play-off place after Derby striker Darren Bent’s 82nd-minute header cancelled out Barry Bannan’s stunning opener for the sixth placed Owls in a 1-1 draw at the iPro Stadium.

That result gave hope to seventh placed Cardiff, who dramatically defeated relegated Bolton 2-1 to move within four points of Wednesday.

Zach Clough gave Bolton an early lead but Kenneth Zohore equalized after Niall Maher’s red card for the visitors and Cardiff nicked it through Peter Whittingham’s penalty deep into stoppage-time.

SEE MORE: Schedule of Championship games on US TV and live streaming

Whittingham’s winner sets up a fascinating meeting between Wednesday and Cardiff at Hillsborough next weekend, with the south Wales club needing a win in their penultimate game of the season to remain in the hunt for a play-off place.

Fourth-placed Hull’s chances of automatic promotion are over following a 2-2 draw with Leeds.

Rotherham secured another season in the Championship with a goalless draw at Wolves, while Fulham are also safe despite a 3-1 loss to Nottingham Forest.

Bristol City can also look forward to another season in the second tier after a 2-2 draw at Blackburn.

QPR drew 1-1 with Reading and at Huddersfield were held to a 1-1 draw by Birmingham.

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