American Exports: Eric Lichaj tops Danny Williams as Nottingham Forest defeat Reading to climb Championship table

Eric Lichaj

Eric Lichaj ably went the distance to help Nottingham Forest jump clear of the Championship's drop zone on the strength of a 3-1 win over Daniel Williams and guests Reading on Saturday. 

The Reds right back aided the home attack while adding three clearances, two tackles, a shot block and a doorstep cross smother. Williams completed 46 of 51 passes and drew good saves from distance at the end of each half. The win lifted Forest to 13th place, while costing the Royals a chance to break into the promotion playoff zone.

Reading remained a point shy of Jonathan Spector and Birmingham City, who held onto sixth place despite a 2-1 defeat at table-toppers Brighton & Hove Albion. 

The center back piled up seven clearances, four pass interceptions, two tackles and an area shot block, but was among the guilty when Bobby Zamora fired the Brighton winner just past intermission. The Blues have dropped four of their last six league games.  

Fulham defender Tim Ream put on a star show, but it was not quite enough as the hosts battled Preston North End to a 1-1 stalemate.

Patrolling the left side of a three-man defense, Ream chalked up game highs with 10 clearances and three cross blocks, while launching nine positive passes in or into the Preston end. Still winless in four, the Cottagers slipped to 13th.

Duane Holmes came on for the final 19 minutes as David Wagner's Huddersfield Town were downed 2-0 at Middlesbrough.

The young attacker provided a bit of a spark, completing six positive passes in the attacking third and beating four defenders on the dribble. Holmes was unable to help create any final product, though, as the Terriers dropped into the danger zone with their third straight defeat.

Also, Cody Cropper served as backup Milton Keynes Dons netminder in a 0-0 draw at Wolverhampton. Consecutive shares have lifted the visitors out of the bottom three.

Across the channel in France's Ligue 1, Alejandro Bedoya was sent off with a second yellow card near time of a 0-0 home draw against Bastia.
The midfielder, who completed 17 positive passes in or into the attacking half, originally went into the book on 59 minutes. Bedoya then got the gate after a rash challenge in the 90th minute. With just one victory from their last five home games, Nantes fell to 10th place.

A level below in Ligue 2, Bob Bradley remains in search of his first Le Havre victory after a 3-1 loss away to co-leaders Nancy. 

Despite taking an 18th-minute lead, the visitors would eventually lose their 315-minute shutout streak near halftime and leak twice after the break to suffer defeat for the first time since September. Le Havre drifted eight points away from the promotion slots in fifth place.

Over in Bulgaria, Bjorn Maars Johnsen set up the winning goal as Litex Lovech pulled level on points with the top thanks to a 4-2 triumph over guests Botev Plovdiv.
In the 53rd minute, Johnsen ran the right flank to cross for Petrus Boumel to convert from close range. The striker also went close three times before departing in the 66th minute. Litex have now won consecutive home games in league play for the first time since mid-August.
Finally, Gedion Zelalam helped Rangers sail into the Scottish Challenge Cup final with a 4-0 rout of visiting St. Mirren. 
Zelalam was cruelly denied a first goal for the Light Blues in the eighth minute, when away 'keeper Jamie Langield went full stretch to shove the US Under-23 playmaker's curler around the post. Rangers are now set to face third-tier Peterhead in the final of the cup for teams from the three tiers below Scotland's Premier League.