Championship Review: Top three punish Derby stalemate

The Championship's top three put daylight between themselves and Derby County with convincing victories on Saturday.

Bournemouth, Watford and Middlesbrough all hit the goal trail on Saturday to pull two points clear of Derby County at the top of the Championship.

While Steve McClaren saw his side salvage a point at Norwich City thanks to John Ruddy's second-half own goal, Bournemouth, Watford and Middlesbrough all eased to comfortable wins.

Brett Pitman's hat-trick helped leaders Bournemouth to a 4-0 win over bottom side Blackpool - all of their goals coming into the opening 50 minutes - while Watford put a much-changed Reading side to the sword.

Steve Clarke made a host of changes, ahead of Monday's FA Cup quarter-final replay against Bradford City, but saw his side beaten 4-1.

Middlesbrough had briefly topped the league thanks partly to a Patrick Bamford brace in their 4-1 win over Ipswich Town in the day's early kick-off.

Daryl Murphy cancelled out Daniel Ayala's early opener, only for Albert Adomah to restore the hosts' lead before Bamford struck twice late on as they extended Ipswich's winless run to four matches.

At the bottom, Wigan Athletic bolstered their survival hopes with a 2-1 victory over fellow strugglers Rotherham United, as Jermaine Pennant's first goals for the club moved them within six points of safety.

A change of manager at Millwall made little difference as interim boss Neil Harris oversaw a 2-0 defeat to Bolton Wanderers in their first outing since Ian Holloway's departure in midweek.

Jordan Rhodes demonstrated his qualities with a brace in Blackburn Rovers' 3-1 win at Charlton Athletic, while Matt Smith's late equaliser at Sheffield Wednesday was enough to gain Fulham a point.

Smith scored 15 minutes from time at Hillsborough to salvage a 1-1 draw that hands Kit Symons' side only their second away point in seven games.

Brentford remain in the play-off places despite going down 2-1 against nine-man Cardiff City at Griffin Park.

Federico Macheda and Alex Revell had cancelled out Andre Gray's opener, with Kadeem Harris dismissed 12 minutes from time before Macheda's second yellow saw him walk soon after.

Elsewhere, goals from David Cotterill and Joe Lolley ensured the spoils were shared between Birmingham City and Huddersfield Town while Rajiv van La Parra gained Wolves a 1-1 draw at Brighton and Hove Albion.

Elland Road saw Leeds United play out a goalless draw with Nottingham Forest.