Chris McCann's sixth-minute headers owed further seeds of doubt about Wolves' ability to keep their nerve as their charge to the Premiership slows to a crawl. Yesterday's 1-0 defeat at Burnley meant Mick McCarthy's side have won just once in nine matches.
The Clarets, who await the winners of tomorrow's FA Cup tie between Arsenal and Cardiff City, stunned the Championship leaders when Wade Elliott's cross to the far post was met firmly by McCann. Wolves' lead is down to three points and chasing clubs have games in hand.
"It is a young squad and I have no doubt they have lost confidence," McCarthy admitted. His opposite number, Owen Coyle, was pleased with his side's fast start. "We were fully deserving of the three points, from the first whistle we were at them," he said.
With other sides in the play-off places occupied by the FA Cup, PrestonNorth End took full advantage and moved up to fourth after a 1-0 win at home over Norwich City. Jon Parkin, whose earlier effort had been denied by a post, scored just before half-time.
A seventh win in eight Champion-ship matches took Bristol City to the cusp of the top six. Bradley Orr's weak penalty delayed their defeat of relegation-haunted Southampton, Kelvin Davis saving simply. But Gavin Williams' deft pass set up Dele Adebola's 34th-minute goal, and as Saints struggled to save a point, Davis went up for an injury-time corner. It was cleared to Ivan Sproule, who sprintedclear to score in the unguarded net and make it 2-0. "We are confident of making the play-offs," Gary Johnson, the Robins manager, said afterwards.
Bottom club Charlton Athletic also missed a penalty, Nicky Bailey the culprit, but like the Robins they too won 2-0. Snow and ice forced Charlton to switch training to the David Beckham Academy, and Thierry Racon's curling left-foot shot after 33 minutes had something of the England internationalabout it as Charlton led Plymouth Argyle. After his penalty miss Bailey's late goal made it 2-0, dragging Paul Sturrock's side closer to trouble.
"As must-win games go, it was right up there," Charlton's manager, Phil Parkinson, said. "Plymouth are in a perilous position and looking over their shoulders. We knew we could bring them closer to us."
Edging to safety, Doncaster Rovers won the Yorkshire derby with Sheffield Wednesday 1-0 when James Coppinger's cross was headed in by Paul Heffernan just after the half-hour.
One of a clutch of mid-table clubs trying to break into the play-offs, Ipswich Town were held 1-1 by Blackpool at Portman Road. Two fine strikes – Alex Baptiste firing Pool ahead on 28 minutes, Tommy Miller levelling six minutes later – saw the spoils shared.
In League One, Leicester City were held to a 1-1 draw by Swindon Town but still lead second-placed MK Dons by nine points. Ali Jerba scored twice as Dons beat Hartlepool United 3-1.
Another missed penalty, by Brentford's leading scorer, Charlie MacDonald, again didn't affect the outcome. Later, MacDonald's 16th goal of the season saw League Two's table-topping Bees beat Port Vale 2-0; second-placed Wycombe lost 1-0 at Bradford and had Chris Zebroski sent off.Reuse content