Bristol City took a massive step towards safety last night after earning a hard-fought point against West Ham, while Coventry lost at home.
Cole Skuse’s equaliser meant City are now five points clear of the drop zone with just two games to go – and a win at home to Barnsley on Saturday will guarantee their Championship survival.
With nearest rivals Coventry going down to a home defeat to Millwall, City boss Derek McInnes said he was “grateful and proud” of his players.
Promotion-chasing West Ham dominated the early exchanges and went ahead after 25 minutes after James Tomkins was left unmarked to head home from a free kick.
But Skuse levelled four minutes later with a rasping shot from 25 yards which appeared to go under the diving keeper, former England international Rob Green.
City improved after that but still had to withstand a late onslaught to extend their timely unbeaten run to six games.
“Everything I didn’t want to happen in the early part of the game happened,” McInnes told the club website. “We let them really impose themselves on us.
“There was no pleasure in the opening 25 minutes of the game and I felt we were fortunate in that period only to go 1-0 behind.
“But once we equalised it gave the players that belief and I thought we finished the first half the better side.
“Second half we dug deep and did most things right. We still gave away one or two needless free kicks, and with the size and presence they’ve got you’re always that bit concerned.
“I still think West Ham will be a Premier League team next year, but we went toe to toe with them and earned our point, so for that I’m extremely grateful and proud of the players’ efforts.”
City host Barnsley on Saturday knowing a win will save them from relegation. Coventry are at home to already-relegated Doncaster while Portsmouth – now level on points with the Sky Blues – host Derby.