Championship round-up: Morrison leads Palace charge as rivals stumble

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The Independent Football

Neil Warnock's rejuvenation of Crystal Palace is moving at a fierce pace, yesterday's 3-0 defeat of Wolverhampton Wanderers at Molineux lifting the south London side into the play-offs on the back of a 14-match unbeaten run. Clinton Morrison's crisp volley in the 24th minute put Palace ahead, and when his 49th-minute shot was blocked, Sean Scannell fired in the rebound. Just after the hour, James Scowcroft fired in from 30 yards to wrap up the win.

"Every time they got on top, we scored another goal," Warnock said. "It's a cruel game at times and I don't think Wolves could have given any more. It's nice for us to be up there but I'm too long in the tooth to be carried away. The pressure is off because everybody thought we were going to get relegated. We're nowhere near the finished article but we're a hard team to play against and can become a lot better."

Many of the sides above Palace faltered, but not leaders West Bromwich Albion, who won 3-1 at Hull City despite having Paul Robinson sent off with 16 minutes remaining for a second booking. By then, Kevin Phillips had scored and set up James Morrison's goal. The Tigers got back into it, Richard Garcia firing in, but Roman Bednar scored in injury time.

Bristol City were held to a 1-1 draw at Ashton Gate. Kevin Lisbie put the visitors ahead in the sixth minute, and although Ivan Sproule equalised just after the half-hour, City could not find a winner. Colchester slipped to bottom because in another shock Preston North End beat high-flying Watford 1-0 at Deepdale, Neil Mellor scoring the late winner. Might the Hornets be tempted to sell Marlon King if Fulham return with a bigger offer? "We don't need to sell," their manager, Adrian Boothroyd, said, "especially to a team we might be changing places with."

Fourth-placed Stoke City earned a point at Ipswich Town, no mean feat this season. Danny Haynes gave the home side a 19th-minute lead, but Ricardo Fuller's 12th goal of the season made Stoke's point. It ended 1-1.

Charlton Athletic's inconsistencies at The Valley were swept aside in a 4-1 rout of Blackpool, Zheng Zi scoring twice. "As good a performance as we have had at home," the Addicks manager, Alan Pardew, said. "With the way other results have gone, it was a massive result."

Leicester City's two new strikers, Steve Howard and Barry Hayles, both scored in the 2-0 defeat of Coventry City, while Cardiff City's experienced striker Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink scored the only goal of the game against Sheffield Wednesday to lift the Bluebirds to within two points of the play-off places. Plymouth are a point behind, despite losing 1-0 at Burnley. Norwich City won 3-1 at Barnsley to go four points above the relegation zone but there was no respite for Scunthorpe United, who lost 1-0 at Southampton, or for Queens Park Rangers, beaten2-1 at Sheffield United.

Beleaguered Luton Town, whose manager, Kevin Blackwell, handed in his resignation after the club's administrators sold five players, lost 3-1 to League One leaders Swansea City.

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