The Clarets kept up the pace with leaders Leicester, writes Jamie Smith.
The Championship’s top three pulled away from the rest on Saturday, with Burnley putting down a marker to their rivals with an eye-catching 3-1 win over Nottingham Forest.
Scott Arfield opened the scoring and two goals from Sam Vokes sealed the points in the first half for the Clarets and 3-1 flattered Billy Davies’ men.
It’s as you were for the Clarets though, as Leicester City and Derby County were also victorious.
The Foxes are showing no signs of slipping up yet and won 3-0 at home to Ipswich Town. Strikers Jamie Vardy, David Nugent and Chris Wood all scored for the league leaders, who remain eight points clear at the top.
Derby left it late again and again it was Chris Martin who earned them a win. A few weeks ago his late goal won their match against Yeovil Town and his free-kick yesterday made the difference at home to Bournemouth. Steve McClaren’s men have won their last three in the league 1-0 and visit Turf Moor next weekend.
QPR fell away from the top three and their promotion challenge has faltered with back-to-back defeats. A late goal from Johnnie Jackson earned an important three points for Charlton Athletic in the London derby, a result which relieves the growing pressure on Chris Powell. The Addicks remain in the bottom three, however.
In fact, all of the bottom three won to tighten up the lower end of the table. Barnsley beat Millwall 1-0 – Jim O’Brien’s early strike settling it – which brings Ian Holloway’s Lions back into trouble.
Yeovil are still rock bottom of the Championship but their 1-0 win (one of five on the day) closed the gap on Millwall. James Hayter scored the winner from the spot against his old club Doncaster Rovers after an hour. Just five points now separate the bottom five teams, with Donny in 20th seeing their cushion over the relegation zone eroded by their defeat.
A few other teams are looking over their shoulders and one of them is Blackpool. They’ve been plummeting down the table despite sacking Paul Ince and lost yet again yesterday. Birmingham City climbed away from the bottom three with a 2-1 win at Bloomfield Road as Lee Novak’s brace helped the Blues come from behind. Blackpool haven’t won since November.
Bolton were able to put some distance between themselves and the strugglers with a 2-0 home win over inconsistent Watford. Recent signings Lukas Jutkiewicz and Joe Mason scored first half goals to settle that match, which casts doubt over the Hornets’ ability to put together a late charge on the top six.
Back in the top six, Reading’s juggernaut came to an end with a bump with a 1-0 home defeat against Blackburn Rovers. The Royals won 7-1 and 5-1 at home in January, but despite winning 3-1 at Loftus Road last weekend have now lost their last two at the Madejski Stadium and lie 13 points behind the Clarets.
Sheffield Wednesday won 2-0 at Reading earlier in the month and Craig Conway’s goal – which came via a deflection off Royals skipper Jobi MacAnuff – settled yesterday’s match for Rovers. It’s five unbeaten now for Gary Bowyer’s men, who have an outside chance of finishing in the top six.
More likely to sneak into the play-offs are Wigan, who have been resurgent under Uwe Rosler in recent weeks. James McArthur and Chris McCann put the Latics 2-0 up and Brighton could only muster a consolation goal from Leo Ulloa. Wigan are seventh and closed the gap on Reading to a single point, with the Seagulls in eighth, level on points with Blackburn.
Huddersfield and Sheffield Wednesday are both safely in mid-table, but a 2-0 win for the Owls in West Yorkshire continued their winning run under new boss Stuart Gray. Having sacked Dave Jones with the club second bottom in December, Wednesday are now nine unbeaten on the road and have climbed to 15th.
And finally, in the televised early game, Middlesbrough and Leeds United drew 0-0, leaving them both mid-table.
Will the top three stay as they are? Comment below.