It was with a typical sense of drama that Darren Anderton, the former England international, ended his 18-year professional playing career yesterday. He came on at Dean Court as a 56th-minute substitute and, 32 minutes later, scored the only goal of the game to give League Two strugglers Bournemouth a 1-0 win over Chester City and significantly enhance the Cherries' prospects of survival. Anderton, 36, played for Portsmouth, Spurs, Birmingham and Wolves and won 30 England caps.
Following last Tuesday's Carling Cup win over Arsenal at Turf Moor, which set up a semi-final against Spurs, Burnley returned to the bread-and-butter work of the Championship, in which they sit in fourth place, and were celebrating again after a 3-2 win at Sheffield United. Martin Paterson, Graham Alexander, from a penalty, and the impressive Chris Eagles scored for the Clarets.
"One of the best results of the season," Burnley manager Owen Coyle said. "It was certainly the most satisfying, given our exploits in the Cup." Particularly as before the match Chris McCann was taken ill and Michael Duff was injured in the warm-up. "We had to reshuffle [and] each and every one of them showed they could play."
The Birmingham City striker Kevin Phillips, replaced at half-time at Wolves last Saturday after complaining of tiredness, had clearly caught up on his sleep. Sixty seconds after Tamas Priskin had given Watford a seventh-minute lead, Phillips headed in Nicky Hunt's cross to draw the Blues level. Marcus Bent made it 2-1 and Cameron Jerome added the third before Ross Jenkins' late goal for the Hornets. It ended 3-2. "We were hot and cold at times but we were down to our last 16 players due to injuries and a virus going around," Alex McLeish, the Blues manager, said. "They churned out another fantastic three points."
To take three points from Oakwell, third-placed Reading did everything the hard way. Their coach broke down on the M1 and they arrived late, at 2.30pm, and had Jimmy Kebe sent off for shoving Dennis Souza after 35 minutes. But the 10 men dug in and just after the hour Souza's error allowed Kevin Doyle to set up substitute Brynjar Gunnarsson whose tap-in earned a 1-0 win.
Cardiff City had previously struggled to beat sides in the top half but a towering header by Roger Johnson and Michael Chopra's penalty saw Preston North End beaten 2-0 to lift the Bluebirds to fifth. But the day's biggest leap saw Crystal Palace, 2-1 winners at Derby County thanks to a 40-yard shot from Pat McCarthy and a sidefoot from two yards by Shefki Kuqi, jump from 13th to ninth, two points off the play-offs.
Swansea City, tenth, took a point from their 0-0 draw at Bristol City and Sheffield Wednesday drew 1-1 at Southampton. In the relegation places, Brian Stock's 30-yard drive set up a rare win for Doncaster Rovers, 1-0 against Plymouth Argyle, and headed equalisers from Rob Earnshaw (diving) and Joe Garner (glancing) saw Nottingham Forest earn a point from a 2-2 draw at Coventry City. All of which left Charlton Athletic, beaten 2-0 at Blackpool, bottom of the table.
In League One, a Matt Fryatt hat-trick took his season's total to 22 goals, as leaders Leicester City beat Southend United 3-0, while in League Two the final unbeaten record at professional level ended when Aldershot beat hitherto impregnable Wycombe 3-2.