Championship Round-Up

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The Independent Online

Coventry City 0 Preston NE 1

Simon Whaley scored his first goal for Preston since his move from Bury as Billy Davies's injury ravaged sixth-placed side opened up an eight-point gap over the chasing pack. "Beating Coventry was a massive result for us, as good a win as we've had all season because it came against a side which hadn't lost at home in the previous 12 games," Davies said. "We're not in the play-offs yet. Other results went for us today, but we've got to look after our own corner."

Luton Town 1 Ipswich Town 0

The Hatters leapfrogged Ipswich when a late goal by leading scorer Steve Howard, his 15th this season, earned the three points. The match turned on a 39th-minute incident when referee Lee Mason gave a penalty to Ipswich and then changed his decision to a corner kick. "He's an excellent official normally," the Ipswich boss, Joe Royle, said, "but he made a mistake and struggled to keep hold of the game after that." Later, Ahmet Brkovic crossed to the near post and Howard glanced the ball in.

Norwich City 2 Leicester City 1

A contentious 77th-minute penalty tucked away by Leon McKenzie - Darren Huckerby dived to earn it, claimed Leicester - gave the Canaries a sixth home win on the trot. Robert Earnshaw had put them ahead, but Gareth Williams levelled just after the hour. Then came Richard Stearman's foul on Huckerby. "A clever player who runs at people and he has fallen in the box," Rob Kelly, the Leicester manager, said. "The decision to award a penalty was pretty harsh."

Plymouth 2 Wolves 0

Wolves' lingering hopes of creeping into the play-offs were delivered a crushing setback by this defeat, Argyle scoring through Hansey Aljofree and a Paul Ince header into his own net 10 minutes from time. Glenn Hoddle's side are eight points adrift of the top six. "That is as poor as we have played all season," he said. "I am very disappointed and am extra disappointed because of the vital points that were available to us. That has put so much pressure on us now."

QPR 1 Crewe Alex 2

Crewe's late rally, goals by Kenny Lunt and David Vaughan setting up a second win in three games, has manager Dario Gradi envisioning a relegation escape. "The players think they can do it, that's the most important thing." For Rangers, this wretched performance will not help Gary Waddock graduate to permanent manager. "There have been reports, speculation and rumours in the press about the situation. I remain caretaker manager until I'm told different."

Sheffield Wed 0 Burnley 0

Buoyed by last week's win at Wolves, but still not clear of relegation concerns, Paul Sturrock's Owls struggled to break down a determined Burnley side but had to settle for the point which took them six points clear of the bottom three. "We were very sluggish and there wasn't the edge to us that we've shown in the last two or three weeks," Sturrock noted. "A lot of the players were heavy-legged, so we'll have to look at the training from now until the end of the season."

Southampton 3 Cardiff City 2

Ricardo Fuller returned from a loan spell at Ipswich, went straight into the Saints side and scored twice as Cardiff's play-off hopes suffered a reverse. Claus Lundekvam put the home side ahead after 47 minutes, only his second goal in 375 games for the club - his first was against Wolves when Cardiff manager Dave Jones was there. Cameron Jerome's 17th goal of the season levelled, but then Fuller struck twice before Darren Purse pulled one back in added time.

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