Championship Review: Brighton move top, Nugent hat-trick sinks Fulham
Brighton and Hove Albion edged closer to securing promotion as they leapfrogged Newcastle United to move top of the Championship with a 3-1 win over Birmingham City.
Yann Kermorgant followed up his stunning strike against Leeds United with a brace against relegation-threatened Blackburn Rovers as Reading moved clear of fellow promotion hopefuls Leeds and Huddersfield Town.
David Nugent enjoyed a mixed outing at Pride Park as Fulham slumped to a 4-2 defeat to a resurgent Derby County, while Preston North End recorded a 5-0 victory over lowly Bristol City.
Sheffield Wednesday moved into the top six thanks to a 2-0 win at already-relegated Rotherham United.
SEAGULLS SOARING HIGH
Glenn Murray's second-minute effort ensured that Brighton got off to an ideal start against Birmingham, as Chris Hughton's men eased their way to the top of the table.
Quick-fire strikes from Tomer Hemed and Uwe Hunemeier put the result beyond all doubt early in the second half, though Che Adams did snatch a late consolation for the visitors.
The victory lifts Brighton onto 83 points, two clear of Newcastle - who host Burton Albion on Wednesday - and 10 clear of third-placed Reading, with a first return to top-flight football since 1983 seemingly all-but secured.
LEEDS AND FULHAM SLIP UP
It was bad news for Leeds and Fulham, as Kermorgant's double inspired Reading to a 3-1 win over a lacklustre Blackburn.
That result puts Reading on 73 points, four clear of Leeds - who went down 2-0 to two first-half goals from Brentford.
Fulham, meanwhile, dropped out of the play-off places as they were thumped by Derby, with Nugent netting three as well as missing a penalty.
PRESTON RUN RIOT AT DEEPDALE
Four goals in the space of 21 second-half minutes secured a comprehensive triumph for Preston over struggling Bristol City, who sit one point above the drop zone.
Simon Grayson's side are now five matches unbeaten in the league, and the Preston boss will be hopeful of closing further ground on the play-off places when his side travel to former employer's Leeds next time out.