Paul Ince last night departed Notts County after just five months in charge. The former Manchester United and England midfielder took over at Meadow Lane last October but leaves the club 19th in League One, two points above the relegation zone. Saturday's 2-0 home defeat to Oldham was the club's fifth successive defeat.
"I am certain that under other circumstances things could have been very different," chairman Ray Trew said. "But we believe that this decision is in the best interests of the club. When we sat down to discuss the matter with Paul it became clear that we were in agreement that a parting of the ways would be the best way forward for all concerned." Chief scout Carl Heggs will take charge for tomorrow's visit of Rochdale as the board seek a permanent successor.
In the Championship, the Norwich City manager, Paul Lambert, maintained that his side are "a team without any big names", despite the fact that the Canaries – who were only promoted from League One last season – strengthened their hold on an automatic promotion spot with a 6-0 thrashing of Scunthorpe on Saturday.
It was a baptism of fire for new Irons manager Alan Knill, in a result that leaves them bottom of the table. Grant Holt and Simeon Jackson both scored hat-tricks in a game dominated by the home team – the contest was effectively over after 30 minutes when Holt slotted his and Norwich's second from the penalty spot, after Scunthorpe's Paul Reid was dismissed for a professional foul. Jackson then came off the bench to score a second-half hat-trick inside 20 minutes.
Another team chasing back-to-back promotions, Leeds, secured a convincing 4-1 win over Nottingham Forest at Elland Road. Forest manager Billy Davies insinuated that his opposite number, Simon Grayson, tried "to get people sent off", after Forest's Chris Cohen was dismissed for a first-half lunge on George McCartney.
Cohen appeared to win the ball and Davies has confirmed that Forest will appeal the decision. All of Leeds' goals came in the second-half, with captain Jonny Howson opening the scoring before Luciano Becchio pounced on a knock-down to double the lead. Gareth McCleary halved the deficit for 10-man Forest before Max Gradel put the game beyond doubt with a fine late double for the Yorkshire club.
Reading took advantage of Forest's defeat to move above them into the play-off zone with a 2-0 victory over Portsmouth. Shane Long scored twice in six minutes before half-time, his 50th and 51st goals for the club. Cardiff City returned to form with a 4-1 home victory over struggling Derby, while Yakubu, on loan from Everton, scored a hat-trick against his former club, Middlesbrough, to earn Leicester a 3-3 draw at the Riverside.