LONDON: Portsmouth and Leicester City moved closer towards automatic promotion from the first division on Saturday although Portsmouth were denied a fourth successive league win by a last gasp Preston equaliser.
Portsmouth, who last played in the top flight 15 years ago, were winning 1-0 at Preston until Paul McKenna deservedly equalised for the home side in the 89th minute.
Leicester, looking for an immediate return after being relegated last season, won 2-1 at Coventry City who have now lost nine of their last 11 matches.
The results left Portsmouth top on 83 points – three ahead of Leicester (80) – who are 12 points clear of third-placed Sheffield United. The top two are promoted automatically to the Premier League with one joining them from the playoffs.
Sheffield United stay top of the chasing pack after beating Derby County 2-0 while Reading, Nottingham Forest and Wolves all maintained their challenge for the playoffs.
Reading finished with 10 men after Nathan Tyson was sent off at the end of the first half but still won 1-0 at Bradford City, Forest crushed Norwich City 4-0 at the City Ground while Wolves hammered Gillingham 6-0 at Molineux after leading 5-0 at halftime.
Sheffield United moved on to 68 points, Reading 67, Forest 65 and Wolves 63. Ipswich, just outside the playoff zone, lost ground after being held to a 2-2 home draw by Brighton.
That result kept Brighton in the bottom three but Stoke City climbed out of the relegation zone with a 2-1 win at FA Cup semi-finalists Watford. Sheffield Wednesday stayed bottom after losing 3-0 at Millwall. Grimsby slipped back after drawing 1-1 at Burnley.