Albion battle down to the wire
By Paul Higham
Last Updated: 01/01/70 1:00am
Brighton knew that their fate was not in their own hands but did their part of the bargain by hammering Watford 4-0 at The Withdean Stadium.
Dean Blackwell, Paul Kitson, Bobby Zamora and Charlie Oatway notched for Steve Coppell's men as they then looked for the result at Selhurst Park to see if that had been enough to keep them in Division One.
Coppell's old side Palace did Albion a massive favour as Dele Adebola's late strike condemned Stoke to a 1-0 defeat and the final relegation place will now be decided on the last day of the season in what will be a nail-biting finish, although Stoke still have a big advantage over the battling Seagulls..
Reading secured their place in the Division One play-offs with a comfortable 2-1 home win over relegated Grimsby Town at The Madejski Stadium.
On-loan Burnley star Glen Little got Alan Pardew's men off to a flyer when he notched against The Mariners after just two minutes and Andy Hughes added a second after 22 minutes and The Royals can now prepare for the nail-biting excitement of the play-offs despite Michael Keane pulling a late goal back.
Ipswich's challenge for a play-off place went out with a whimper as they went down to a 5-1 defeat at home to Wimbledon.
Neil Shipperley and Adam Nowland gave The Dons a 2-0 lead and although Darren Bent pulled one back, a late double from David Connolly and one from Alex Tapp condemned Town to another season in Division One.
The result at Portman Road meant that Nottingham Forest were safe in the top six, and that was just as well as they were eventually held to a thrilling 3-3 draw by Millwall at The City Ground.
Eoin Jess and Eugen Bopp put Forest in control but Stuart Nethercott and Tim Cahill drew the sides level only for David Johnson to restore the home side's lead before Neil Harris rescued a point for The Lions.
Sheffield United and Wolves had already secured their play-off places and they squared-up in what could be a play-off rehearsal at Bramall Lane in a 3-3 thriller.
Paul Peschisolido gave The Blades an early lead inside two minutes but George Ndah and Dean Sturridge put Dave Jones's visitors ahead at the break.
The two sides then traded penalties through Michael Brown and Sturridge before Peschisolido popped up in the final minute to grab a draw for Neil Warnock's side in a glimpse of what could be a mouth-watering play-off battle.
Another amazing game at Turf Moor saw Burnley concede seven goals for the second time in recent weeks as relegated Sheffield Wednesday went down fighting in a 7-2 victory.
Paul McLaren and Ashley Westwood had given The Owls the lead before Ian Moore saw red for the hosts after 21 minutes.
Richard Wood made it three before Robbie Blake pulled one back just before half-time from the penalty spot. Richard Wood made it 4-1 two minutes after the restart before Blake got his second to reduce arrears further.
Chris Turner's side then ran away with it and goals from Steve Haslam, Alan Quinn and an Arthur Gnohere own goal sealed the memorable 7-2 win.
Derby's miserable end to the season continued at The Bescot Stadium as they went down to a 3-2 defeat against Walsall thanks to a hat-trick from Brazilian ace Junior.
Simo Valakari pulled the score back to 2-1 just before the hour but Junior completed his treble ten minutes later to seal the points for The Saddlers despite a late goal from Fabrizio Ravanelli.
Pawel Abbott's goal was enough to give Preston the three points at home to Bradford while a typical end-of-season encounter at Highfield Road saw both sides looking forward to their summer holidays in a goalless draw between Coventry and Gillingham.
Click on fixture for full match summary
Brighton v Watford
Burnley v Sheff Wed
Coventry v Gillingham
Crystal Palace v Stoke
Ipswich v Wimbledon
Nottingham Forest v Millwall
Preston v Bradford
Reading v Grimsby
Sheff Utd v Wolves
Walsall v Derby
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