Championship Review: Middlesbrough go top as Derby and Bournemouth draw
Middlesbrough capitalised on a 2-2 stalemate between Bournemouth and Derby County by beating rock-bottom Blackpool 2-1 to take Championship top spot for themselves.
Derby travelled to the Goldsands Stadium behind Bournemouth only on goal difference, though they often found themselves playing catch-up on the day, as Matt Ritchie put the hosts ahead after 12 minutes.
Tom Ince, a January loan signing from Hull City, scored his third goal in two games to level things up with a fine effort after half-an-hour, before Callum Wilson restored Bournemouth's lead on the stroke of half-time.
Darren Bent ultimately secured a point for Derby, however, producing an emphatic finish from close range after an exquisite first-touch to beat his marker.
Middlesbrough took advantage of that draw to leap above both teams and go top of the table with 59 points, though Aitor Karanka's men were forced to do it the hard way.
Jonathan Woodgate finally put the away side ahead with nine minutes to go, but a Ben Gibson own-goal a few moments later seemed to have dashed their hopes of going top.
There proved to be a final twist, though, and it left the away fans delighted, as Kike saw his 88th-minute header go in off the crossbar and subsequently put Middlesbrough in charge of the Championship.
Mark Warburton was unable to divert attention away from talk regarding his as his Brentford side lost 2-1 at home to Watford.
Despite a 38th-minute red card for Jake Bidwell, the hosts took the lead through Andre Gray just after half-time.
But an Odion Ighalo double, taking his tally to eleven in his last seven, turned things around for Watford, with the winner arriving in stoppage time.
Ipswich Town remain just ahead of Watford in fourth-place thanks to a 2-1 win at home to Sheffield Wednesday, while their East Anglian rivals Norwich City closed to within two points of the play-offs after a hard-fought 3-2 victory at Charlton Athletic – Cameron Jerome netting an 83rd-minute winner.
Wolves ended a run of three without a win in style, as they thumped hosts Huddersfield Town 4-1, while Manchester United-owned Saidy Janko enjoyed a fine Bolton debut, scoring and claiming an assist in their 3-1 win over Fulham.
Birmingham City's winless run was stretched to five after a 1-0 loss at home to Millwall, with Leeds United also winning away from home, emerging 2-0 victors at Reading.
Cardiff City and Brighton and Hove Albion played out the day's only goalless encounter, while Blackburn Rovers defeated Rotherham United 2-1 at Ewood Park.