Preston drew level midway through the first half with their first scoring opportunity. Adrian Williams brought down Matthew Hill and Graham Alexander tucked away the penalty kick. A minute later Richard Cresswell thumped in his 16th goal of the season and three minutes after half-time Chris Lucketti made it 3-1. The Sky Blues weren't finished and Gary McSheffrey scored 18 minutes from time to make it 3-2. But Preston held on to go sixth.
Fourth-placed Reading's home form - 10 wins, one defeat - has forced recent visitors to the Madejski Stadium arrive primed for defence in depth and the Royals could find no way through the ranks of Plymouth Argyle. It ended 0-0.
Both Argyle and Coventry are still in some relegation peril but not as much as bottom club Rotherham United and Nottingham Forest, a place above them, who met at Millmoor. The goalless draw did no good to either side. Forest have not won away all season; the Millers have only one home victory.
Gillingham, the third club in the relegation places, had no luck in their 2-0 defeat at Watford, who took the lead when Danny Webber's jinking run and shot was guided into his own net by Barry Ashby after 23 minutes. The Gills pressed in the second period, hit the woodwork twice but were undone when another of the Hornets former Manchester United youth products, substitute Chris Eagles, on loan, scored in the 90th minute.
Back among the play-off hopefuls, the goalless draw at the New Den in the London derby between Millwall and Queen's Park Rangers was a result probably more satisfying to the visitors.
Relegated Leeds United are at last showing signs of a late run to the play-offs. The fuss over Ken Bates' arrival now abated, Leeds moved to within five points of the top six thanks to a 1-0 win at Burnley. The game turned Leeds' way just after the hour when Gylfi Einarsson headed in, the Clarets' defender Frank Sinclair was sent off for a second booking soon after and Ian Moore missed a Burnley penalty. "I thought we looked a good side today, rather accomplished at times," Kevin Blackwell, the Leeds manager, said. "I'm just slightly annoyed that we didn't finish the game off. For the last 10 minutes it was a little bit of backs-to- the-wall" At the Walkers Stadium, Leicester City drew 1-1 with visitors Crewe Alexandra.
In League One, the top three all drew 1-1, the leaders, Luton Town at Hudders-field, second-placed Hull City at home with Bristol City and Tranmere Rovers at Bradford City. At the bottom, Peterborough United beat Stockport County 2-1 at London Road to leave County marooned at the bottom as Posh moved up to places.
Yeovil, the League Two leaders, a week after their brave FA Cup exit at Charlton, conceded three goals away again, this time at fourth-placed Macclesfield. Their 3-1 reverse allowed Scunthorpe United, 2-1 winners over demotion candidates Kidderminster, to draw level on points and goal difference, the Glovers retaining top spot on goals scored.
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