Premier League promotion watch: Cardiff all but up; Bolton surge into top six

Michael Steele

Any point in the next four games will seal Cardiff's automatic promotion to the Premier League. Meanwhile, in the race for the playoffs, Leicester and Forest have allowed Bolton to catch them.

Cardiff City are almost certainly headed to the Premier League after their win this weekend that pulled them 12 points clear of third-placed Watford. Any dropped points by Watford over the final four games of the season or any point by Cardiff will see the Bluebirds promoted to the Premier League. Watford's loss over the weekend, combined with Hull City's win, means that the Tigers are looking good for automatic promotion as well.

Four games remain in the Championship season for most sides. Crystal Palace, who sit in fourth place and have a game in hand on all of the other teams in the top half, were idle this weekend.

Leicester City 2-2 Birmingham City

This was a heartbreaker for Leicester, who took the lead twice, but only managed a point at home against a mediocre side. In the 90th minute, with the hosts up 2-1, David Nugent took down Wes Thomas in the penalty area with a striker's challenge. Chris Burke finished from the spot, and the two dropped points has kept Leicester out of the playoff spots. They're in eighth, two points behind Bolton.

Barnsley 0-6 Charlton Athletic

On the basis of this performance, Barnsley look likely to find themselves in League One next season. Charlton are still in the promotion race, just barely, thanks to this emphatic win. Bradley Pritchard scored four minutes in and the hosts never found a way back into the game. Charlton would score three before Stephen Dawson was sent off, then added three more. They're six points back of Bolton.

Cardiff City 3-0 Nottingham Forest

It would have been a big ask for Forest to get any points out of this one, but their supporters probably expected a better effort than this. Heidar Helguson put Cardiff ahead in the 26th minute and Rude Gestade completed a brace with two second-half goals. Forest are tied with Bolton on points, but are behind them by three goals on goal differential.

Bristol City 1-2 Bolton Wanderers

The result looks like a fortunate one for Bolton on first glance -- their goals came by way of an own goal and a penalty -- but they were the much better side from City's 48th minute goal onwards. You can find a full match report at Lion of Vienna Suite.

Middlesbrough 0-2 Brighton and Hove Albion

Boro's quest for promotion appears to be all but over after they dropped all three points to a playoff place rival on Saturday. They're now eight points back of Bolton and sit in 10th place with a minus-seven goal differential. Brighton will be pleased with their effort and their place in the table -- fifth, for now -- but it's nowhere near secure. The Seagulls are just two points ahead of Bolton and Forest, and four points up on Leicester.

Ipswich Town 1-2 Hull City

Gone are the days of an unlikeable Hull side, led by the even more unlikeable Phil Brown, seemingly destined for a long spell without Premier League football. They're bouncing back more quickly than anyone expected them to with Steve Bruce at the helm, and they'll have you saying, "Hey, I remember [player] from [handful of cup appearances as a teenager] with [Sky Six side]" at least a half-dozen times next season.

Peterborough United 3-2 Watford

In what was almost certainly the game of the round, Peterborough climbed out of the drop zone and seemingly sentenced Watford to a push for promotion the hard way, in the playoffs. The Hornets (who, if you don't remember, have a crest with a moose on it), are six points behind Hull and five points up on Palace, likely locking them into third place. Peterborough took a shock 3-0 lead in this game and barely held off a late charge from Watford, who scored twice in the final five minutes of regulation, plus stoppage time.

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