Championship leaders Wolves, who do not kick-off against Cardiff City until 1pm today, were the biggest winners yesterday, their two closest rivals, Birmingham City and Reading, both spurning the chance to close the gap. After just 52 seconds at the Ricoh Arena, Coventry City’s Scott Dann fired in from Daniel Fox’s corner and Alex McLeish’s Blues could muster neither the guile nor the graft to get back into the match. Scott Sinclair had an equaliser ruled out, but McLeish did not blame the officials.
“The start cost us the game,” he said after the 1-0 defeat. “We didn’t deal with a long ball and they forced a corner. We didn’t learn our lesson because they scored from the set-piece. It was fairly soft.”
Third-placed Reading were also off the pace against Bristol City as Dele Adebola’s downward header from Michael McIndoe’s 26th-minute free-kick and Cole Skuse, in a 48th-minute goalmouth scramble, earned the Robins a 2-0 win. The Royals have not scored in almost six hours of football. “If I knew why I obviously would have done something about it by now,” Royals manager Steve Coppell said. “Recent results would suggest that teams have worked us out. Whether we are a one-trick pony or not I don’t know – only time will tell.”
Meanwhile there was a little respite for Plymouth Argyle’s under-pressure manager Paul Sturrock. His side twice led Sheffield United at Home Park, Carl Fletcher scoring the game’s first goal on his debut, but Danny Webber and Greg Halford scored as sixth-placed Blades earned a 2-2 draw to leave Argyle three points above the relegation places. “I have not lost the dressing room and that showed again today,” Sturrock insisted. “We are all in this together and it’s just a shame that we gave away two zany goals.”
In the bottom three, Marek Saganowski scored twice as Southampton won at home for only the second time this season, and the first time under Mark Wotte, beating Preston North End 3-1. “With 13 games to go we probably have to win another five or six games,” Wotte deduced. Norwich City picked up a point from a 1-1 home draw with Burnley and bottom club Charlton Athletic drew 0-0 at Barnsley. Mike Williamson and Tamas Priskin scored as Watford won again, 2-0 at Blackpool.
Two London sides with games in hand were still within sight of a top six finish, but Queens Park Rangers lost 3-1 at home to Ipswich Town and Crystal Palace went down 2-0 at Sheffield Wednesday. Jordi Gomez scored twice as Swansea City beat Doncaster Rovers 3-1 and moved to within a point of a top six place.
The League One managerial merry-go-round spun at speed this week, with former captain Terry Skiverton installed at Yeovil Town, who drew 2-2 with Oldham Athletic, while Brighton parted company with Micky Adams and caretakers Dean White and Bob Booker oversaw a 1-0 win at Millwall, Adam Virgo scoring. Leaders Leicester City set a club record of 20 matches without defeat when Matt Fryatt’s goal earned a 1-0 win at Bristol Rovers. In the Conference, the dire financial predicament at Weymouth is getting to the team. They lost 9-0 at home to Rushden & Diamonds.