The English Football League (EFL) has commissioned a comprehensive review into the regulations and procedures concerning the financial sustainability of its member clubs following Bury's demise.

League One side Bury's 125-year association with the EFL ended last week after financial difficulties, while fellow third-tier side Bolton Wanderers were saved from liquidation when taken over by Football Ventures (Whites) Limited eight days ago.

The EFL announced on its official website on Thursday that an independent review is to be conducted by Jonathan Taylor QC, an expert on commercial and regulatory issues in sport, to reduce the risk of a repeat.

The first phase of the review will examine the background to Bury's insolvency and the second phase will focus on the owners' and directors' test amid criticism it is not fit for purpose.

EFL executive chair Debbie Jevans said in a statement: "The withdrawal of Bury FC's membership is one of the most difficult decisions we have ever had to take at the EFL.

"This review will help everyone to understand what happened at Bury and ensure that, collectively, we learn and apply the right lessons for the future.

"The financial sustainability of EFL clubs is of vital importance to supporters and communities across the country as well as to the growth and development of the League itself.

"The EFL recognises its responsibility to examine whether we can improve our regulations and procedures in this area.

"In close collaboration with our membership, we want to play our part in helping to ensure a successful and prosperous future for the EFL so our clubs can contribute to their communities for many years to come."

Bolton Wanderers have dodged the threat of liquidation after Football Ventures (Whites) Limited completed its takeover of the club.

The League One side were told on Tuesday they had 14 days to provide proof of funds or they would follow Bury in being removed from the English Football League.

A deal to sell the club to Football Ventures appeared to have collapsed over the weekend, but Bolton said in a statement on Wednesday an agreement is now in place.

Joint administrator, Paul Appleton, told Bolton's official website: "This has been one of the most complicated administrations I've been involved with, but I'm delighted to say we have finally reached a satisfactory conclusion with the sale to Football Ventures.

"At times, some of the hurdles appeared insurmountable and the frustration felt has been immense, not least by the supporters who have had to endure too many weeks of uncertainty.

"I would like to pay particular tribute to the Eddie Davies Trust and their legal team who, throughout this whole process, have been willing to do everything in their power to ensure Eddie's incredible legacy was maintained and not sullied."

Bolton supporters braced themselves for the worst after the initial deadline of 17:00 BST on Tuesday to get a deal in place was missed.

However, the 145-year-old club now has a future beyond the next fortnight after a breakthrough in protracted talks with Football Ventures.

"Even at the 11th hour when other parties were content to renege on their agreements, the Trust realised the very existence of Bolton Wanderers was at stake and were willing to find a compromise to save the club," Appleton said.

"It is a testament to their unflinching determination to do what was best for Bolton that we are able to complete the deal today.

"The Trust were forced to constantly compromise their position in the face of circumstances and demands which were wholly unreasonable. This says much about their determination not to allow Eddie's beloved Bolton Wanderers to suffer any longer at the hands of Ken Anderson.

"Sadly, Mr Anderson has used his position as a secured creditor to hamper and frustrate any deal that did not benefit him or suit his purposes. Thankfully, with the assistance of the Trust and others, we were able to overcome this obstacle.

"I would especially like to thank both my team and my lawyers who worked around the clock to find solutions to problems which certainly threatened to derail the whole process.

"I have every sympathy for the staff, players and fans who have been forced to stand by while their club was taken to the brink. I am delighted their loyalty, dedication and patience have finally been rewarded.

"Of course, there will be difficult times ahead while the club gets back on its feet but there are too many people with Bolton close to their hearts for it not to be successful once more.

"The EFL and PFA have both played a major part in the club's survival. They have understood the complexities of the process and have stood strong in the fight to save Bolton, helping to drive this deal over the line.

"Now there can be a fresh start with owners who, I believe, will run the club for the good of the supporters and the community as a whole. For everything the fans have had to endure, they deserve nothing less."

Bolton – who were relegated from the Premier League in 2011-2012 – are bottom in League One with -11 points, having received 12-point penalty for entering administration.

They were thumped 5-0 by Ipswich Town on Saturday, conceding five goals for the third game running across all competitions.

Bury have been expelled from the English Football League (EFL) after a takeover bid collapsed, while Bolton Wanderers have been given a 14-day extension to avoid the same fate.

The EFL said on Saturday a takeover for Bury needed to take place by 17:00 local time (16:00 GMT), or their membership of the league would be withdrawn.

Analytics company C&N Sporting Risk pulled out of a deal to buy Bury earlier on Tuesday following a period of due diligence.

A statement on the EFL website read: "Having fully considered all available options, including a number of late expressions of interest provided to the EFL, the EFL board has unanimously determined with enormous regret that Bury's membership be withdrawn."

Fellow League One side Bolton, meanwhile, have been given until September 12 to "meet all outstanding requirements of the League's insolvency policy or its membership in the EFL will be withdrawn."

Bury have had all of their competitive fixtures postponed since winning promotion from League Two last season, with off-the-field troubles causing significant problems.

In its statement, the EFL said there could be "no further suspensions to the fixture list and that these ongoing concerns and the integrity of the competition were a significant factor in the decision."

It also confirmed League One will now comprise of 23 clubs for the remainder of the 2019-20 campaign and relegation places would be reduced from four to three.

EFL executive chair Debbie Jevans said: "Today is undoubtedly one of the darkest days in the league's recent history. The EFL has worked determinedly and tirelessly to avoid this outcome and it is with a heavy heart that this situation has been forced upon us.

"The EFL has to place the integrity of our competitions at the heart of every decision we make, and we simply cannot allow this unacceptable situation to continue or countenance the prospect of postponing further fixtures.

"No one wanted to be in this position but following repeated missed deadlines, the suspension of five league fixtures, in addition to not receiving the evidence we required in regard to financial commitments and a possible takeover not materialising; the EFL board has been forced to take the most difficult of decisions."

A deal to buy Bolton collapsed over the weekend, leading to joint administrator Paul Appleton saying "the process of closing down the company will commence on Wednesday" if the involved parties did not find a compromise.

The EFL, however, have said they now have two weeks to "conclude a change of control with a preferred purchaser, or provide sufficient evidence that they are in a position to fund the club for the remainder of the 2019-20 campaign."

Jevans added: "Despite repeated assurances, we are extremely disappointed that we are still not in a position to reach a successful resolution with the sale of Bolton Wanderers and have therefore taken the decision to lift the suspension on the notice of withdrawal. I again urge all parties to finalise the proposed takeover.

"The reality of this action is that there are now 14 days to secure the club's long-term future."

Bolton's administrators released a short statement saying: "All parties have been in continuous dialogue throughout the day and are working closely together this evening in order to bring a deal to completion."

Bolton Wanderers face liquidation this week unless a deal to buy the club can be resurrected by 17:00 BST on Tuesday, according to joint administrator Paul Appleton.

The League One club had been given the deadline to complete a sale or offer "compelling" reasons for an extension by the English Football League (EFL).

However, Appleton revealed a deal to buy the club collapsed on Saturday and says "the process of closing down the company will commence on Wednesday" if the involved parties do not find a compromise.

Bolton – who were relegated from the Premier League in 2011-2012 – are second from bottom in League One only ahead of Bury, with both sides having received 12-point penalties for entering administration

They were thumped 5-0 by Ipswich Town on Saturday, conceding five for the third game running.

In a statement on the club's official website, Appleton said: "The EFL have made their position clear by insisting on a 17:00 BST deadline on Tuesday for a deal to be completed or give compelling reasons for an extension.

"They have also written to everybody concerned in the process to underline that sense of urgency.

"On Sunday evening, there was some tentative dialogue, but we are still some way from reaching a solution. Therefore, I am appealing to those parties whose position seems intractable to do everything to reach a compromise.

"In just over 24 hours, the club will have its membership of the EFL revoked. Over and above that, the club is currently not in a position to carry on trading and, as such, the process of closing down the company will commence on Wednesday.

"This will ultimately lead to its liquidation, the expulsion of the club from the EFL and the inevitable loss of over 150 jobs. More than that, it will devastate a community for whom the football club is a beacon of hope and expectation."

Celtic have signed promising midfielder Luca Connell from embattled Bolton Wanderers on a four-year deal.

The 18-year-old becomes Neil Lennon's second signing since the end of the season following the arrival of French defender Christopher Jullien from Toulouse.

Connell turned heads after breaking into Bolton's first team in January and won a call-up to Mick McCarthy's Republic of Ireland squad in May, only to be forced out through a thigh injury.

The Liverpool-born left-footer leaves cash-strapped Bolton as administrators attempt to push through a takeover following the club's relegation to League One.

"It's unbelievable to sign for such a massive club, known all around the world," Connell told Celtic TV.

"It's a dream come true, it's what you dream of when you're a little boy."

Bolton Wanderers will enter administration, chairman Ken Anderson has confirmed. 

Bolton Wanderers' rearranged home match against Brentford will not take place and their opponents will instead be awarded a 1-0 victory, the English Football League (EFL) has confirmed.

Relegated Bolton called off the Championship fixture last weekend as their players went on strike over unpaid wages for March and April.

It was announced on Thursday that the game would be rescheduled for Tuesday, May 7, two days after the final round of league fixtures in the second tier.

However, a further decision has been taken to give Brentford the three points, with the EFL to open disciplinary proceedings against Bolton.

"Following the decision taken by Bolton Wanderers' Safety Advisory Group (SAG) to issue a prohibition notice preventing Tuesday's rearranged Championship fixture with Brentford from taking place, the EFL will not be asking that the game is played at a future date," read a statement from the governing body.

"There is no provision under EFL Regulations to direct clubs to play at a later date than four days past the conclusion of the season and, as a result, it has been determined that Brentford will be awarded the three points on the basis of a 1-0 victory.

"As a consequence, Bolton Wanderers is now deemed to be guilty of misconduct by the EFL which will result in disciplinary proceedings against the club being taken at an appropriate time.

"The decision to award the victory to Brentford is taken under Regulation 33.2 and is independent of the proceedings referred to above."

Bolton Wanderers' suspended Championship match against Brentford has been rearranged for Tuesday, May 7, the English Football League (EFL) has confirmed. 

The game was originally scheduled for last weekend but did not take place after Bolton's players went on strike over unpaid wages for March and April. 

The new date is two days after the end of the regular Championship season. 

Bolton have already been relegated to League One and find themselves in dire financial straits, with the club announcing on Thursday that Laurence Bassini's attempt to purchase them from owner Ken Anderson had fallen through.

There is a risk of Bolton being placed into administration and, should that come to pass, the EFL would not insist on the game being played. 

"The rationale for adopting that approach is that it is the [EFL] board's view that any administrator should be allowed to concentrate their efforts and available funding on finding a purchaser for the club, rather than staging the fixture in these unprecedented circumstances," the EFL said in a statement. 

Bolton Wanderers' clash with Nottingham Forest will go ahead as planned as the beleaguered club have confirmed their first-team players will be available, according to a statement from the English Football League (EFL).

Already relegated from the second tier, Bolton's final home fixture with Brentford, scheduled for April 27, was postponed amid an ongoing player strike over unpaid wages - a decision that was backed by the Professional Footballers' Association (PFA).

The club's ownership situation remains unresolved, with a proposed takeover by Laurence Bassini having reportedly not progressed, but the EFL has indicated that Wanderers' trip to the City Ground on Sunday will take place.

"Bolton Wanderers has confirmed to the EFL that its first-team squad will be available for the club’s away fixture against Nottingham Forest at the weekend," read the statement.

"As a result, the game will take place as originally scheduled on Sunday, May 5, kick-off 12:30pm, along with all other Championship fixtures.

"The EFL board will determine on Thursday, May 2 as to what arrangements are to be put in place in regards to last week's suspended fixture with Brentford and details will be confirmed in due course."

The English Football League (EFL) has confirmed Bolton Wanderers' postponed fixture with Brentford will not take place this week amid an ongoing player strike.

The game was initially scheduled for April 27, but Bolton were unable to field a team after players refused to play in protest at unpaid wages - a decision backed by the Professional Footballers' Association (PFA).

Hopes that the game might be played on Wednesday have been dashed by the EFL, which said in a statement that Bolton had not made arrangements to play the game at the earliest opportunity.

A proposed takeover by former Watford owner Laurence Bassini has reportedly not progressed, leaving the club facing a winding up petition on May 8 should the situation remain unresolved.

An EFL statement said: "The EFL has this morning [Tuesday] confirmed that Bolton Wanderers' suspended Championship fixture with Brentford will not be played this week.

"The EFL Board will now determine on Thursday 2 May 2019 as to what arrangements are to be put in place in regards to the fixture and Bolton Wanderers will be instructed accordingly.

"As previously advised EFL Regulations do provide for any league match to be played within four days of the end of the normal playing season (Sunday 5 May 2019).

"The EFL reserves its position in relation to the club not making the arrangements to play the game at the earliest opportunity and this matter will be brought to the attention of the Independent Disciplinary Commission the club has been referred to at the appropriate time."

Bolton's relegation to League One was confirmed when they suffered a 2-0 home defeat to Aston Villa on April 19.

Bolton Wanderers' home game against Brentford has been called off after their players refused to play in protest at unpaid wages.

The troubled club "regrettably" confirmed less than 24 hours before the scheduled kick-off time that the Championship fixture would not be taking place on Saturday.

The EFL described the developments as "disappointing" in a statement on its website, adding that Bolton are now guilty of misconduct and will be referred to an Independent Disciplinary Commission.

Their players had released a statement earlier on Friday that they would not be fulfilling the remaining two matches in the season due to monies owed - a decision that won the backing of the Professional Footballers' Association (PFA).

Both the squad and coaching staff members have still not been paid for March and first-team players reportedly refused to train for 48 hours this month in protest after club workers also went unpaid.

"This situation is creating mounting mental, emotional and financial burdens for people through no fault of their own," the statement from the players read. "The mental pressure has affected some people to the extent that they feel they are unable to perform their jobs sufficiently.

"These are unprecedented circumstances and are affecting every aspect of our lives, placing great strain on ourselves and our families."

Former Watford owner Laurence Bassini last week agreed a last-minute takeover of the club to prevent them going into administration. The deal hoped to lead to the settlement of a High Court case related to an unpaid tax bill.

Bolton's relegation to League One was confirmed last week by their 2-0 home defeat to Aston Villa.

Bolton Wanderers players are refusing to play their last two Championship matches of the season due to unpaid wages – a decision that has won the backing of the Professional Footballers' Association (PFA).

Squad and coaching staff members have still not been paid for March and first-team players reportedly refused to train for 48 hours this month in protest after club workers also went unpaid.

In a statement released on Friday, the players said they will not take to the field for fixtures against Brentford and Nottingham Forest until the matter is resolved.

"This situation is creating mounting mental, emotional and financial burdens for people through no fault of their own," the statement read. "The mental pressure has affected some people to the extent that they feel they are unable to perform their jobs sufficiently.

"These are unprecedented circumstances and are affecting every aspect of our lives, placing great strain on ourselves and our families.

"During this time, we have remained patient in hope of some explanation but information from the club has been extremely limited and very confusing. What we have been told changes constantly.

"With deep regret, we have decided not to fulfil our remaining fixtures unless we are paid. We understand that this will disappoint our fans and for this we sincerely apologise.

"We realise this may be seen as drastic action but we feel we have no other options left. This decision has not been taken lightly and is not a reaction to this one particular incident.

"We have suffered numerous issues this season, and recent seasons, brought on by the mismanagement of this club. We have been operating in a near untenable environment for some time and it is the accumulation of these issues that have resulted in our decision."

The PFA has lent its support to the Bolton players, saying: "The players have shown great patience and loyalty towards the club all season, but today, they have reached a point where action is necessary.

"The PFA has been working with the club since the beginning of the season and we have done all we can to resolve this issue including giving Bolton Wanderers a substantial loan to cover players' salaries in December. 

"We will continue to support and represent the players and work towards a longer-term solution in the best interests of the players and Bolton Wanderers Football Club."

Former Watford owner Laurence Bassini last week agreed a last-minute takeover of the club to prevent them going into administration.

Under-fire Bolton chairman Ken Anderson said he was "very pleased" to hand over ownership of the club, with the deal hoped to lead to the settlement of a High Court case related to an unpaid tax bill.

Bolton's relegation to League One was confirmed last week by their 2-0 home defeat to Aston Villa, with the club having been in the Premier League as recently as 2012. 

Leeds United's push for promotion from the Championship took another twist as they went down 2-1 at home to 10-man Wigan Athletic.

Sheffield United's victory over Nottingham Forest earlier in the day had moved the Blades second and piled the pressure back on Leeds, and Marcelo Bielsa's side were unable to respond as they slumped to a shock defeat.

Elsewhere, Middlesbrough leapfrogged Bristol City – who could only draw with Reading – into the play-off places, while West Brom boosted their slim hopes of automatic promotion thanks to a late comeback win against Hull City.

At the other end of the table, Bolton Wanderers were relegated after losing to Aston Villa while Rotherham United remain in the bottom three despite a battling display in a 4-3 loss away at Swansea City.

There were wins for Preston North End and Blackburn Rovers, with the points shared between Birmingham City and Derby County, while Brentford drew at Millwall in a London derby.

 

PROMOTION RACE TAKES ANOTHER TURN

With Sheffield United having beaten Forest, the pressure was on Leeds to deliver at Elland Road, and a rampant start looked set to pave the way for Bielsa's side to move back into second place.

Wigan went down to 10 men in the 14th minute – Cedric Kipre receiving his marching orders for a deliberate handball – and though Pablo Hernandez missed the resulting penalty, Leeds had the lead soon after thanks to Patrick Bamford's third goal in as many games.

But Wigan would not roll over, and having restored parity on the stroke of half-time, Gavin Massey doubled his tally in the 62nd minute when he headed Leon Clarke's cross in.

Leeds rushed to respond, but could not find an equaliser, and were fortunate that Reece James' free-kick did not dip under the bar.

The victory lifted Wigan five points clear of the relegation places, while Leeds sit third, behind Sheffield United on goal difference, with just three games left to play.

BAGGIES ON THE BOUNCE

Two successive away defeats had cast doubt over West Brom's promotion hopes, but the Baggies are firmly back in the driving seat for the play-offs after they followed up Saturday's 4-1 hammering of Preston with a dramatic win over Hull.

Todd Kane's double cancelled out Kieran Gibbs' opener at The Hawthorns, but Dwight Gayle was on hand to be West Brom's hero.

Having ensured that Hull's lead lasted just three minutes when he headed home from close range, Gayle nodded in his sixth goal in three games to claim the points with five minutes remaining.

West Brom sit fourth, and may still harbour hopes of pushing Leeds and Sheffield United in the automatic promotion race, though a play-off spot seems more likely.

BORO CAPITALISE ON BRISTOL CITY SLIP

Bristol City kicked off the day's proceedings against Reading, but had to rely on a Josh Brownhill equaliser to secure a share of the spoils at Ashton Gate.

That opened up the chance for Middlesbrough to move back into the play-off places, and Tony Pulis' side took their opportunity thanks to Britt Assombalonga's early goal against Stoke City.

The Potters have been in dismal form under Nathan Jones, and since he took over on January 12, Stoke have scored the fewest goals, attempted the fewest shots and attempted the fewest shots on target in the league.

BOLTON BACK IN LEAGUE ONE

It was always unlikely that Bolton would escape the drop, and a fourth successive defeat finally confirmed their relegation to League One.

Former Watford owner Laurence Bassini has agreed a deal to buy Wanderers, but they will play next season in the third tier after goals from Jack Grealish and Tammy Abraham saw Aston Villa ease to a comfortable victory.

Two of the relegated teams have now been confirmed - with Ipswich Town already down, though the race to avoid the drop remains on for Rotherham, despite Paul Warne's side ending up on the losing side of a seven-goal thriller at Swansea. 

Millwall sit on 43 points following their draw with Brentford, while Birmingham edged closer to safety by drawing 2-2 with Derby at home.

Sheffield United failed to put maximum pressure on Leeds United in the Championship promotion race with a dramatic 1-1 home draw against Millwall, while Ipswich Town were relegated to League One.

With Leeds in action later in the day against Sheffield Wednesday at Elland Road, the Blades had a chance to go two points ahead of Marcelo Bielsa's men and Gary Madine's goal seemed to have earned them victory.

Ben Marshall missed a late penalty for Millwall after John Egan was sent off, but Jake Cooper struck deep in added time for the relegation-threatened visitors.

Aston Villa's home win against Bristol City tightened the race for the top six, with West Brom, Middlesbrough and Derby County all collecting three points too, but Ipswich's time in the second tier is over.

 

BLADES LACK CUTTING EDGE

Sheffield United have lost form at a bad time of the season, with Chris Wilder's side having won only one of their past four Championship matches to hand the advantage to Leeds.

Madine's third league goal since joining on loan from Cardiff City in the January transfer window looked to have put his side clear of Leeds, at least temporarily.

But nerves struck in the closing stages and, after Egan was dismissed for handball having blocked a header from Tom Elliott, Marshall missed the resulting penalty.

Millwall punished the 10 men, however, with Cooper's diving header in the fifth minute of added time pushing the Lions two points clear of the relegation zone.


READING BOOSTED, IPSWICH DROP

Yakou Meite hit a priceless double for Reading in a 2-1 home win over Brentford that moved the Royals four points clear of the bottom three.

Meite struck twice in the first 15 minutes and, although Neal Maupay replied for the Bees with his 22nd Championship goal of the season, Jose Gomes' side held on.

Survival hopes are over for Ipswich, though, with Paul Lambert's side relegated despite Gwion Edwards' equaliser earning a 1-1 draw at home to Birmingham City, who are now six points above the danger zone.

Rotherham United came from two goals down to draw 2-2 at Stoke City, Michael Smith and Matt Crooks scoring in the second half to move the Millers within a point of safety.

QPR recorded their first win under caretaker boss John Eustace by thrashing mid-table Swansea City 4-0 at Loftus Road, Tomer Hemed with a double that sees Rangers pull eight points clear of Rotherham.

Bolton Wanderers, meanwhile, are likely to follow Ipswich through the trap door. Their 4-0 loss at Derby was their fifth defeat in six Championship matches and they are nine points adrift of 21st-placed Wigan Athletic, with the visit of leaders Norwich City to come on Sunday.


VILLA ON THE CHARGE

Bolton's next game is at home to Villa, with Dean Smith's men making it eight wins in a row courtesy of a 2-1 victory over top-six rivals Bristol City.

Goals from Tammy Abraham and Conor Hourihane set up Villa's win, although Famara Diedhiou hit back for Bristol City, who had been unbeaten in their last five games.

Middlesbrough continue to improve after a six-game losing streak seemed to have ended their play-off hopes, with a 1-0 win over Hull City secured thanks to Britt Assombalonga's first-half goal.

But slim top-six hopes are fading fast for Nottingham Forest and Preston North End. Forest lost 2-1 at home to Blackburn Rovers, their third straight defeat, while it is four reverses in a row for Preston after they went down 4-1 at West Brom.

Dwight Gayle fired in a hat-trick for James Shan's Baggies, who are close to guaranteeing a play-off place and are only six points behind Sheffield United.

Leeds United leapfrogged Sheffield United into second place in the Championship after a 2-0 win away at Preston North End on Tuesday.

Patrick Bamford scored twice as Marcelo Bielsa's side moved two points ahead of the Blades, who are in action against Birmingham City on Wednesday.

West Brom's automatic promotion hopes suffered a potentially fatal blow with a 3-2 defeat to Bristol City, while Middlesbrough boosted their play-off hopes with a win away at struggling Bolton Wanderers.

There were also wins for Blackburn Rovers, Sheffield Wednesday and Swansea City against Derby County, Nottingham Forest and Stoke City respectively.

BAMFORD PUNISHES 10-MAN NORTH END

Leeds and Sheffield United are locked in a pulsating battle for the Championship's second automatic promotion place and Bielsa's side have cranked up the pressure ahead of the Blades' visit to Birmingham.

Their cause was helped by the dismissal of Ben Pearson, who received a straight red card for hauling down Bamford as he went through on goal shortly after the interval.

The visitors took full advantage of their numerical superiority in the 62nd minute when Bamford powered home from 25 yards.

The former Chelsea striker then added a second 14 minutes from time, heading in Mateusz Klich's right-wing cross to seal a vital three points.

BAGGIES' TOP-TWO HOPES DEALT A BLOW

West Brom are now nine points behind Leeds in fourth after three goals in the opening 19 minutes set Bristol City on their way to a important victory in the play-off battle.

The Robins, who are four points ahead of seventh-place Middlesbrough in fifth, stormed ahead thanks to goals from Josh Brownhill, Andreas Weimann and Jack Hunt.

Dwight Gayle reduced the deficit two minutes into the second half before Jay Rodriguez added a second 16 minutes from time.

They were unable to find a leveller, though, as caretaker boss Jimmy Shan suffered a second defeat in four days.

FLETCHER KEEPS PULIS' MEN IN PLAY-OFF RACE

Middlesbrough ended a torrid run of form to push Bolton Wanderers closer to relegation.

Tony Pulis' side had lost their last six games in the league, but Ashley Fletcher scored twice to move them to within two points of sixth-placed Aston Villa.

Bolton, meanwhile, remain eight points from safety with just five games left to preserve their Championship status for another season.

RAMS WELL BEATEN IN LANCASHIRE

Derby County's hopes of sneaking a play-off place suffered a setback as Blackburn Rovers ran out 2-0 winners at Ewood Park, while Sheffield Wednesday jumped above Nottingham Forest into ninth after a resounding 3-0 win at Hillsborough.

Elsewhere, Swansea City ran out 3-1 winners over Stoke City at the Liberty Stadium.

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