League round-up: Grounds for optimism after Carroll has Magpies singing

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The Independent Football

A solo effort by Jonas Gutierrez, Andy Carroll's header and Danny Simpson's speculative effort saw Championship leaders Newcastle United brush aside struggling Peterborough United 3-1 at St James' Park despite protests during the match at the renaming of the stadium by owner Mike Ashley. Posh slip to the bottom.

"We have got used to getting on with the job," Magpies manager Chris Hughton said of the brouhaha. "I am lucky to have a group of players who are focused on one thing, staying where we are in the table with the ultimate aim of getting promotion."

All four sides in the play-off places are on 27 points after defeat for Cardiff City and wins for Queens Park Rangers and Blackpool. Kaspar Gorkss' near-post header in the 82nd minute saw Rangers win 2-1 at Sheffield Wednesday to go fourth, a place above Pool who trailed to Scunthorpe, levelled through Ian Evatt's header, saw Iron's goalkeeper Joe Murphy sent off and ran out 4-1 winners, after goals from Charlie Adam, Ben Burgess and Alex Baptiste.

In a dull match at the City Ground Nottingham Forest drew 1-1 with Bristol City, but it was more rather eventful at the Liberty Stadium where midfielder Darren Pratley scored two right-foot volleys to help Swansea City to win the South Wales derby with Cardiff City 3-2.

Darren Ambrose netted his 10th goal of the season as Crystal Palace beat Middlesbrough 1-0 at Selhurst Park. Boro still await their first point under Gordon Strachan. "When you have chances like that and you don't take them, you have a problem. Luck has nothing to do with it," the frustrated Boro manager said.

Ipswich Town moved off the bottom after a 1-1 draw at Reading, while Plymouth beat Doncaster 2-1 to move out of the bottom three.

FA Cup First Round

Bath City and Staines Town of the Blue Square Conference South, and Kettering Town, Oxford United, and York City, all of the Conference Premier, were yesterday's giantkillers as League opposition from north and south fell to the strength of the non-league pyramid. Chris Holland and Darren Edwards scored as Bath beat managerless League Two Grimsby Town 2-0 at Blundell Park, while Staines also won away, Ali Chaaban beating two defenders of League Two Shrewsbury Town before firing in his 21st-minute goal. It stayed 1-0.

Conference leaders Oxford showed they are ready to rejoin the League, Jack Midson scoring as they beat League One Yeovil 1-0, and a Moses Ashikodi header saw Kettering, third in the Conference, win by the same margin at League One Hartlepool. Two goals by Richard Brodie and a Richard Paquette strike gave York a 3-2 win over League Two Crewe.

Three other Conference sides, Luton Town, Stevenage Borough and Gateshead, earned another chance against League opponents. Steve Basham scored two as the Hatters led Rochdale 3-0 at Kenilworth Road, but Dale, second in League Two, hit back to draw 3-3. An injury-time equaliser by Boro's Charlie Griffin took League Two Port Vale back to Broadhall Way after a 1-1 draw and Peter Wynne's strike earned Gateshead a 2-2 draw with League One visitors Brentford.