LONDON, April 3 (Reuters) - Middlesbrough’s on-loan Chelsea striker Patrick Bamford netted his 15th league goal of the season to help the second-tier promotion chasers top the English Championship with a 1-0 home win over Wigan Athletic on Friday.
Middlesbrough are two points clear of their rivals in an increasingly congested title race but their stay at the summit could be short-lived if second-placed Bournemouth or Watford in fourth win their games later on Friday.
Bournemouth, who began the day in first place, visit Ipswich Town while Watford, who are three points off the pace but with a better goal difference than Middlesbrough, are at playoff-chasing Derby County.
Norwich City are third after they won 1-0 at Brighton thanks to Bradley Johnson’s second-half goal.
Brentford and Wolverhampton Wanderers moved into the playoff places with the former crushing Fulham 4-1 away and the latter winning 2-1 at Nottingham Forest.
Middlesbrough striker Bamford will hope to have caught Jose Mourinho’s eye at his more illustrious parent club Chelsea after scoring his firth goal in their last six league games to take his seaon’s tally to 17 in all competitions.
The England under-21 striker found the bottom corner with an effort from outside the penalty area in the 20th minute after being teed up by Jelle Vossen.
The win put Middlesbrough on 75 points from 40 games leaving Wigan second-bottom and five points adrift of the safety zone.
Norwich, relegated from the Premier League last season, helped their chances of an immediate return with Johnson scoring his 11th goal of the season at Brighton just past the hour mark to move them to 73 points with six games remaining.
Brentford are four points further back after two goals from Stuart Dallas and late efforts from Alan Judge and Jota helped them to a crushing win over 20th-placed Fulham.
Benik Afobe and Bakary Sako, with a penalty, grabbed second-half goals for Wolves who held off a late Forest rally to move up to sixth on 68 points. (Reporting by Toby Davis; Editing by Ken Ferris)