Championship roundup: Zian Flemming fires Millwall into playoff places

Sport

Record signing Zian Flemming struck a superb hat-trick as Millwall returned to the playoff places with a 4-2 victory at Preston. The Dutch midfielder was in predatory mood as he inspired the Lions to a deserved first victory in four games, while Preston’s three-match winning streak was abruptly halted.

Flemming put Millwall 2-0 up before Preston hit back to level the score on 28 minutes. However, he completed his hat-trick in the second half and Charlie Cresswell hit a fourth to cement a fine away win.

Sheffield United moved back to the top of the table with a 1-0 win at Cardiff. A 64th-minute goal from George Baldock was enough to secure all three points for the visitors.

Cardiff dominated much of the first half after a ponderous first 20 minutes, with the Bluebirds’ front three causing plenty of issues on the counterattack. The home side had plenty of chances, but failed to capitalise as the half wore on. The introduction of James McAtee at half-time helped the Blades take control, although the visitors spurned several golden opportunities to take the lead before Baldock shot powerfully past the helpless Ryan Allsop.

Substitute Matt Crooks struck a dramatic stoppage-time winner as Middlesbrough came from behind to claim an impressive 2-1 victory against Norwich at Carrow Road. Crooks provided an emphatic finish to a swift counterattack to give the visitors a third successive win under recently appointed manager Michael Carrick.

Boro were trailing to Josh Sargent’s well-taken seventh-minute opener until past the hour mark before the game was transformed by a spectacular volley from Riley McGree. Both sides then went all out for the three points, with Boro having the final say as Norwich lost ground in their promotion challenge, with loud boos from home fans greeting the final whistle.

The interim Luton manager, Mick Harford, saw his side snatch a late point at home to Rotherham as they drew 1-1. Former manager Nathan Jones left for Southampton on Thursday, and the Hatters went a goal down in the first minute when Jamie Lindsay put the Millers in front, but Luke Berry scored in the 90th minute.

Harford praised his players after what he called a “whirlwind” week at the club. “They give me everything they have, they give the staff everything, they give the club everything. I’ve really enjoyed the last three or four days: this is a magnificent set of players, a brilliant squad, who work tirelessly.”

Liam Rosenior’s first home game in charge of Hull ended in defeat as the Tigers fell to a 2-1 defeat to Reading thanks to a late own goal. Jacob Greaves put Hull in front before Yakou Méïté equalised, but a rebound off Ryan Longman saw Hull concede right at the death.

Rosenior had made a bright start in his new role as Hull head coach, but his side have now lost their last four home games and are a point above the relegation zone. He said: “It’s a tough one to take considering our control and domination in the second half.

“I’m not going to have a go at players – they’ve given me absolutely everything this last week – but what we need to do is work on the small details.”

Viktor Gyokeres’ double earned Coventry their fourth league win on the bounce with a 2-0 victory against QPR at the CBS Arena. The Swede pounced on Jamie Allen’s miskick to fire past Seny Dieng and then slotted home Callum O’Hare’s pass to lift Coventry just two points off the playoffs, despite sitting 22nd in the table before their winning run. It was also a ninth clean sheet in 12 outings.

Struggling Wigan left it late as Curtis Tilt’s header saw them beat 10-man Blackpool 2-1. Marvin Ekpiteta was sent off for Blackpool in the 17th minute, but they took the lead through Gary Madine. James McClean levelled for the Latics nine minutes into the second half and Tilt found the winner with two minutes left on the clock.

The Tangerines drop into the relegation zone, while West Brom climb out of the bottom three into 21st after a 2-0 win against Stoke. Kyle Bartley put the Baggies in front six minutes before the break and Brandon Thomas-Asante doubled their lead early in the second half with an overhead kick.

Elsewhere, bottom-of-the-table Huddersfield held Swansea to a 0-0 draw while Bristol City and Watford also finished goalless.