LONDON, Dec 26 (Reuters) - Leeds United bolstered their promotion ambitions with a 4-1 victory at Preston North End on Monday as their former player Jermaine Beckford was sent off in his first match back since serving a three-match suspension.
Goals by Kemar Roofe, Hadi Sacko and Souleymane Doukara put the visitors in control before the break and Pablo Hernandez added a late fourth to leave Leeds in fifth place in the Championship with 41 points.
Beckford, who was sent off for fighting with a team mate in his last match, came on as a substitute but did not last long as he was red-carded for a reckless kick into the face of a Leeds defender.
With leaders Newcastle United playing later against Sheffield Wednesday and second-placed Brighton and Hove Albion not in action, the focus was on the pack trying to reel in the league's two most consistent sides.
Third-placed Reading kept in touch with the automatic promotion places thanks to a 3-1 home victory over Norwich City who had Jonny Howson sent off for deliberate handball.
Huddersfield came from a goal down to beat Nottingham Forest 2-1 and stay fourth, a point ahead of Leeds.
Michael Mancienne's own goal shortly after halftime sealed the points for Huddersfield and the Forest defender was later sent off to a complete a miserable day.
Bottom club Rotherham United managed only their third win all season, beating fellow strugglers Wigan Athletic 3-2. (Reporting by Martyn Herman, editing by Ed Osmond)