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Rampant Royals enjoy Christmas

No, not those Royals. It wasn't the best Christmas Day for them as Prince Philip was in hospital although apparently in good spirits. Total Football wishes him well.

We are talking about Reading FC's transformation in recent weeks.

Wins against West Ham (3-0), Leeds United (1-0) and Brighton (3-0) have catapulted Brian McDermott's men intpo the play-offs and given the fans renewed hope that they can go one better and return to the Premier League after missing out in the play-off final last season.

The race for Premier League places is well and truly on in the Championship. Southampton lead the way, but West Ham and Middlesbrough are hot on their heels and Cardiff, Hull and now Reading are not far behind them in the battle for play-off places.

Paul Blake rounds up the action from Boxing Day...

Super Saints and rampant Royals 

Reading and Burnley consolidated on recent success with excellent 3-0 home wins against Brighton and Doncaster respectively.

Burnley have now won five of their last six matches and are on a great run of form, although Doncaster manager, Dean Saunders, was less than impressed by the decision to award Burnley a penalty shortly before half-time. He slammed the decision as “ridiculous”.

Reading manager Brian McDermott was delighted with his side’s result at home to Brighton, a win that extended the Royals' run of wins and clean sheets to three games following victories against West Ham and Leeds.

“We have to be happy, a terrific win, three goals and a clean sheet against a good side,” he said.

Southampton extended their lead at the top with a straight forward 2-0 defeat of Crystal Palace at St Mary’s courtesy of a Guly Do Prado headed brace.

Missed chances

Sam Allardyce was left frustrated by missed chances as his West Ham side could only manage a point at Birmingham, leaving the Hammers three points behind the leaders.

At the bottom, Coventry managed a 1-0 victory in a match that the opposition, Bristol City, completely dominated.

The Robins failed to capitalise on 26 chances, leaving manager Derek McInnes to ponder over the imminent departure of Nicky Maynard. “I can understand the emotion but for me, he’s shown a willingness and desire," said McInnes. "We need good players playing and he’s our best striker when we play one up top.”

Elsewhere there were victories for Blackpool, Middlesbrough, Millwall and Peterborough, while Watford and Cardiff shared the points at Vicarage Road.

The points were also shared as Leicester entertained Ipswich at The King Power Stadium. Leicester are currently in 12th spot but are just five points adrift of the play-off spots.

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