Championship round-up: Westwood poops McCarthy's party as Wolves slip up
Sunday 08 February 2009
In accord with a country in the grip of winter, the Championship's pacemaking top three froze when presented with a chance to increase their lead over the chasing play-off pack.
Mick McCarthy, the manager of leaders Wolves, endured a grim 50th birthday as his side lost 2-1 at Coventry City. Leading scorer Sylvan Ebanks-Blake spurned the chance to make McCarthy a present of a point when his injury-time penalty was saved by the Sky Blues goalkeeper, Keiren Westwood. The hosts led from the 25th minute, when Michael Doyle tapped in from six yards. Sam Vokes headed Wolves' 72nd-minute equaliser, but three minutes later Jordan Richardson's pass set up Leon McKenzie's winner.
"The opportunity to win something is in reach for them," the frustrated McCarthy said of his side. "They will never forgive themselves if we let it out of our grasp, that's for sure."
Reading, second, and third-placed Birmingham City were both held at home by play-off contenders. The Royals' goals have dried up and they drew 0-0 with Preston North End.
However, their manager, Steve Coppell, is not too alarmed. "We needed more precision in our finishing when we got opportunities and better deliveries from the wide areas, but all in all I am OK with it."
Alex McLeish was not OK with his Blues side: "Why didn't the players turn up for the first half? We began very slowly and appeared to be in a trance." But Martin Paterson's third-minute tap-in was all Burnley had to show for their dominance, and the Blues' arch goal-poacher Kevin Phillips pounced to level eight minutes before the break. It stayed 1-1.
Sheffield Wednesday's 2-1 win at Sheffield United completed their first double in the Steel City derby for 95 years, preventing the fifth-placed Blades from closing the gap on the leaders. Tommy Spurr and Marcus Tudgay scored the Owls' goals and their manager, Brian Laws, was delighted for the fans. "They haven't had a lot to shout about, but when we win these games it makes up for a lot."
Just outside the top six Swansea City were the biggest winners, Jason Scotland scoring twice in the 3-0 home win over Ipswich Town. The in-form striker has scored 11 goals in his past 11 games. "We are into the last third of the season and our target must now be the play-offs," the Swans manager, Roberto Martinez, said.
Bristol City won 2-1 at Norwich City, Cole Skuse and, after the Canaries defender Gary Doherty was sent off for a foul on Dele Adebola, a Bradley Orr penalty sealing their win. But QPR were held to a 2-2 draw at Nottingham Forest, Matteo Alberti giving away a penalty for Forest's first but redeeminghimself by scoring twice. Derby County continue to flourish under Nigel Clough. Rob Hulse scored twice in their 3-0 win at Plymouth. "To get the three goals was a bonus but the clean sheet was the most important thing today," Clough said.
With the weather forcing the bottom three to sit out the day, Doncaster Rovers put a little distance between themselves and the relegation places, Brian Stock, Sam Hird and James Coppinger scoring in a 3-2 win at Blackpool, who had Charlie Adam, on loan from Rangers, sent off after the scoring had been done.
In Scotland, Celtic had an uneasy passage into the last eight of the Homecoming Scottish Cup with a 2-1 win over Second Division Queen's Park. Falkirk won a tempestuous all-Premier match at Tynecastle, Steve Lovell scoring in the 1-0 defeat of Hearts and both sides ending with 10 men.
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