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Middlesbrough rout Preston to boost push for Premier League

Owen Humphreys - PA Images / PA Images / Getty

Chuba Akpom extended his hot-streak as Middlesbrough boosted their bid to reach the Premier League with a 4-0 rout of 10-man Preston on Saturday.

As the race for promotion from the Championship gathers pace, Michael Carrick's side moved within three points of second placed Sheffield United.

If Middlesbrough do clinch an automatic place in the top-flight, it will be the 27-year-old Akpom who they have to thank after a remarkably prolific season.

The striker bagged his 25th goal, and 11th in 10 games, as Middlesbrough responded to Tuesday's home draw with Stoke in perfect fashion.

Akpom broke the deadlock in the 22nd minute before on-loan Aston Villa forward Cameron Archer grabbed a quickfire second-half double.

Preston finished with 10 men after Bambo Diaby saw red with two minutes left and Marcus Forss rounded off the scoring deep into stoppage time.

Former Manchester United star Carrick, one of the favourites for the Crystal Palace job following the sacking of Patrick Vieira, saw his side register an eighth win in 10 league games.

Fourth-placed Luton are three points behind Middlesbrough after a 1-1 draw at Sunderland.

Millwall missed a chance to climb into fifth after a 1-0 defeat against lowly Huddersfield at The Den.

Danny Ward netted in the 67th minute to give Neil Warnock's third-bottom team a first win in six games.

Norwich are three points adrift of the play-off places after  being held 0-0 at Stoke, which extended their winless run to three games.

Bottom-of-the-table Wigan drew 1-1 at Watford, while Blackpool, also in the relegation zone, were beaten 4-1 at home by Coventry.

Rotherham's clash with Cardiff at the New York Stadium was abandoned in the 47th minute because of heavy rain.

Struggling Cardiff were leading 1-0 at the time thanks to Jaden Philogene's strike in the fifth minute.

QPR's wretched form showed no signs of improving in a 1-0 defeat against Birmingham at Loftus Road.

Gareth Ainsworth's side, thrashed 6-1 at Blackpool in midweek, have lost nine of their last 15 league games.

Reading and Hull drew 1-1 at the Madejski Stadium.

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