Gallagher's acrobatics stun Wolves as leaders all falter

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The Independent Football

Not for the first time this season, the Championship seemed to turn on its head, with only one of the top 11 sides winning and only one in the bottom eight losing. Championship leaders Wolves' slump in form hit a new low as they lost 1-0 at home to previously freefalling Plymouth Argyle. Paul Sturrock's side made the best possible start when a long throw into the Wolves box was dealt with inadequately and Paul Gallagher's acrobatic overhead kick flew in off the crossbar with just 39 seconds on the watch. With ample time to recover, Wolves huffed and puffed but found no way back. They have won only once in their past 11 games.

"Let's cut to the quick," an angered Wolves manager, Mick McCarthy, said. "The way we played we were hopeless and didn't deserve anything from the game. We gave them a goal, let them sit back and didn't play well."

"Nothing surprises me about this league," Sturrock said. "Everybody seems able to beat everybody else, it's a very strange league. I think Wolves are playing mind games with themselves. They have an excellent squad; it will just be a matter of time before they kick on again." Sooner rather than later, McCarthy hopes.

Third-placed Reading's indifferent spell of results also continued when they spurned the chance to claim an automatic promotion place, Lewis McGugan scoring just after the hour as Nottingham Forest won 1-0 at the Madejski Stadium.

In fact the only side of those vying for a top-six finish to win were Preston North End, who beat a stubborn Ipswich Town 3-2 at Deepdale. A Callum Davidson penalty, Jon Parkin's header after a defensive mix-up and a Stephen Elliott shot saw Alan Irvine's side move up to fourth.

Fifth-placed Bristol City were held to a goalless draw at home by Blackpool, and Cardiff City slipped to sixth. The Bluebirds lost 1-0 at Southampton, David McGoldrick scoring the penalty after Mark Kennedy handled.

In the chasing pack, Burnley's Cup runs seem to have caught up with them at last, Marcus Tudgay and Leon Clarke scoring two apiece in Sheffield Wednesday's 4-2 win at Turf Moor. It was the Clarets' 46th competitive game of the season. Nathan Dyer gave Swansea City a 42nd minute lead against Charlton Athletic, but 10 minutes into the second half Nick Bailey equalised for the bottom club. But the Londoners are 10 points from safety.

Norwich City were the only struggling side to get nothing from the day and slipped to 23rd after Danny Fox's fine individual goal gave Coventry City at 2-1 win at Carrow Road, setting them up for next weekend's FA Cup quarter-final visit from Chelsea.

Watford and Barnsley eased their problems with wins over Crystal Palace and Queens Park Rangers respectively. Don Cowie beat Palace's offside trap to slip the ball between Julian Speroni's legs to kick-start the Hornets' 2-0 win, while Daniel Bogdanovic and Anderson de Silva scored in the Tykes' 2-1 victory over QPR.

In League One, Max-Alain Gradel's injury-time equaliser saw leaders Leicester City draw 2-2 at second-placed Milton Keynes Dons, and League Two leaders Brentford beat Bury 1-0, Marcus Bean on the mark.

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