Blackburn reel in Nottingham Forest as Leyton Orient fans force 'abandonment'

Lawrence Ostlere
The Guardian


Blackburn Rovers took the fight for Championship survival to the final day of the season with a 1-0 win over Aston Villa at Ewood Park, courtesy of Danny Graham steering home after 54 minutes. The win brought Rovers level with Nottingham Forest, who lost 2-0 at QPR, confirming Rangers’ safety in the process. Both sides have 48 points; Forest host Ipswich in their final game, and Blackburn head to Brentford.

• Burton Albion also secured their Championship status, capping a fine campaign for the club under Nigel Clough, who led them out of League One last year. However Wigan, automatically promoted with Burton last season, had their relegation confirmed with a 1-0 defeat at Reading, via Yann Kermorgant’s 17th goal of the season. With Rotherham already down, the final relegation spot looks to be between Forest and Blackburn; Birmingham City moved two points clear of the pair in Harry Redknapp’s second game in charge, beating Huddersfield 2-0 having missed a penalty and played with 10 men for most of the game.

• The fight to be champions will also go to the final day after Brighton lost 1-0 at home to Bristol City. Josh Brownhill’s 43rd-minute goal ensured the Seasiders’ latest promotion party fell flat and secured City’s Championship status for another season. Brighton must now win away at Aston Villa next Sunday to make sure of the title. Newcastle, a point behind the leaders after a 2-0 win at Cardiff City on Friday night, are at home to Barnsley in their final game and will be champions if they better Brighton’s result.

Leeds United fell just short of a miraculous comeback at Elland Road against Norwich City, effectively ending their top-six chase for another season. Steven Naismith and two Nélson Oliveira strikes put Norwich three ahead in the first half but Chris Wood’s 29th goal of the season just before the break gave Leeds hope. Kyle Bartley and a brilliant Pablo Hernández free-kick brought the game back to 3-3, but Garry Monk’s side couldn’t muster a winner and will surely finish the season in seventh.

• Leeds’ result means Reading, Sheffield Wednesday and Fulham – barring a turnaround that makes up three points and a 13-goal deficit – are all in the play-offs, joining Huddersfield in a four-way shootout for that lucrative promotion place. Keiran Lee’s late goal gave Wednesday a 1-0 win at Ipswich, while Fulham drew their west London derby with Brentford 1-1, in which Daniel Bentley brilliantly saved Tom Cairney’s penalty and rebound – Fulham’s ninth spot-kick miss from 13 taken this season.

<span class="element-image__caption">Joy for Danny Graham and Blackburn against Villa.</span> <span class="element-image__credit">Photograph: Richard Martin-Roberts - AMA/Getty Images</span>
Joy for Danny Graham and Blackburn against Villa. Photograph: Richard Martin-Roberts - AMA/Getty Images

League Two

Hartlepool United survived another week, but it will take a shock on the final day of the season if they are to extend their 96-year stay in the Football League. The club, who sacked Dave Jones this week, lost 1-0 at fellow strugglers Cheltenham, who sealed their survival in the process. But Newport could not take advantage, letting a lead slip at Carlisle via a goal from Jabo Ibehre and a stunning Nicky Adams strike in the space of two minutes. Hartlepool remain two points behind, however, and will have to beat high-flying Doncaster on the final day to have any hope of staying up.

• Unfortunately for Hartlepool, Doncaster will be determined having ceded top spot in a 3-1 defeat at home to Exeter. Nathan Blissett’s late header from six yards against Crewe gave Plymouth Argyle a 2-1 home win which moved them one point clear of Doncaster and two of Portsmouth and put themin charge in the title race

• The top three are well clear but two of the play-off places remain wide open. Luton and Exeter were the two sides to make certain of a top-seven finish, but below them seven teams are separated by only three points. Mansfield fell to the bottom of that pack with a 1-0 defeat to Pompey, Cambridge kept in the hunt after beating Crawley 2-0, and Blackpool wasted their chance to seal a play-off place in a 1-0 defeat to Notts County.

• Supporters of doomed Leyton Orient invaded the pitch after 85 minutes while losing 3-1 against Colchester at the Matchroom Stadium, halting the game to protest against the ownership of the club who are heading down to the National League. The match was eventually announced as being abandoned. However … once the fans had been emptied from the ground, an unlikely restart took place, with the game kicking off again at 6.43pm BST. A non-event subsequently took place, the match petering out to a 3-1 Colchester win. The EFL later issued a statement on the remarkable scenes:

• And York City, relegated from League Two last season, have been relegated again after mustering only a draw on the final day of the National League season at home to Forest Green when a win would have sent Guiseley down in their place. The veteran striker Jon Parkin twice equalised for the Minstermen but they could not find a crucial winner to survive and the National League North now awaits – the first visit to the sixth tier of English football in the club’s 95-year history. “I’m just sorry for everybody at the moment” said the York manager, Gary Mills, after the game. “It hurts, it’ll hurt for a while but that’s the situation we’re in. This is a special football club. I’m sorry we found ourselves in this situation but we have. We have to stay proud. On a personal note, I’m absolutely devastated.”

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