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Championship: Peter Beagrie looks at promotion push and relegation battle

Peter Beagrie - Peter Beagrie Posted 26th February 2014 view comments

With the race for promotion intensifying, there were four fixtures between top-10 teams in the Championship last weekend which could have a huge bearing on the run-in.

Predictably, the Leicester express (1st) showed no signs of slowing down against Ipswich (9th), with Nigel Pearson's men earning a comprehensive 3-0 win and the strike partnership that keeps on giving firing again.

McArthur: the Wigan midfielder will assume more responsibility in Watson's absence

McArthur: the Wigan midfielder will assume more responsibility in Watson's absence

Jamie Vardy took his season's total to 12, while David Nugent notched his 18th goal of the campaign as the Foxes extended their unbeaten run in the league to 13 matches - but Forest (5th) saw their tally of 14 matches without defeat end at Burnley (2nd).

The City Ground side were put to the sword, especially in the first half, when they were outthought, outfought and found themselves 3-0 down, but the Burnley bandwagon rolls on meaning they remain unbeaten at home this season and maintain grip of the second automatic place.

CURRENT TOP SIX

Reading (6th) suffered defeat to Blackburn on home soil, ensuring there is now just five points separating five teams from sixth to 10th, making the battle for the final play-off spot intriguing.

Wigan's (7th) third win on the spin at Brighton (8th) was dedicated to broken-leg victim Ben Watson, last year's FA Cup hero whose outstanding season has been dealt a devastating blow, and I wish the great professional the very best with his rehab.

Fellow midfielders James McArthur and Chris McCann provided the goals in an oft back-to-the-walls performance, while Ryan Tunnicliffe has arrived on loan from Fulham to fill the huge void Watson's loss will create.

We are in for one hell of a ride at the top of the table over the final third of the season, but I must now turn my attention to the equally-important matter of Championship survival as everyone from 13th-placed Middlesbrough downwards have severe cause for concern.

It's unbelievable how often all three sides in the relegation zone win in the same round of fixtures and while not enough to drag Charlton, Barnsley and Yeovil clear of the bottom three, it has dragged other clubs back towards them.

Sheffield Wednesday, who have picked up since Stuart Gray was installed as manager, got a big win at Huddersfield, while Dougie Freedman's Bolton managed their first victory since Boxing Day - and third home triumph of a disastrous season - by beating Watford.

The pressure on a club the size of Wanderers can be very debilitating because of expectancy levels and the five teams below them will be hoping this can play a major part in the desperate struggle to maintain Championship status.

BEAGS' TEAMS OF THE WEEK

Championship - Charlton

There were brilliant wins for Yeovil and Barnsley, who pulled Millwall and Doncaster respectively back near them and made sure they were not cut adrift, but Chris Powell's men take this accolade. The relief was tangible as Powell sat in the dugout after the Addicks' emotional win over QPR, their maiden three-point haul since Boxing Day, and success was vital with Yeovil and Barnsley's results.

League One - Wolves

There was a tremendous win for Shrewsbury against fellow strugglers Notts County, with Town coming back to triumph from 2-0 down, and that could be a massive tonic for the club. Sheffield United's resurgence under Nigel Clough continued with an imperative win against Bristol City which lifted them out of the relegation zone, but I have to give this award to Wolves, who brought Brentford's 19-game unbeaten run to a shuddering halt following a 3-0 success, with Bakary Sako creative and the twin threat of James Henry and Michael Jacobs grabbing goals and headlines.

League Two - Plymouth

Back-to-back victories for strugglers Wycombe and Northampton were a much-needed fillip, with the Cobblers' wins at Hartlepool and high-flying Southend particularly impressive, but there can only be one winner for me and that's Argyle. Away victories against the dangerous Daggers and a four-star thrashing of much-fancied Fleetwood are surely worth celebrating and Plymouth boss John Sheridan, whose side are now up to eighth and just four points off the play-offs, is reaping the benefits of a patient board.

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