League round-up: Robins fly on to top perch after McCombe strike

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The Independent Online

A "sublime" strike by defender Jamie McCombe saw Bristol City make full use of Stoke City's inactivity by beating Hull City 2-1 to go top of the Championship. The Robins led when Dele Adebola controlled a long punt from Jamie McAllister and fired in left-footed. But the Tigers levelled at the end of the first half, Liam Fontaine deflecting Ian Ashbee's shot into his own net. Hull must still have been basking in the satisfaction of that equaliser because Bristol regained the lead in the first minute of the second half, Lee Johnson's pass setting up the chance for McCombe's shot.

"I can't recall seeing a goal like that from a centre-back before," City's manager Gary Johnson said. "I can only call it a sublime moment, which no one will forget for a long time. It's great to be in pole position with only 11 games left." Stoke play at Queens Park Rangers today.

Watford missed the chance to join Bristol in the automatic promotion places, thwarted by two goals from Robbie Blake as Burnley held them to a 2-2 draw at Turf Moor. Darius Henderson headed the Hornets into an early lead before Blake levelled. Jordan Stewart seemed to have won it for Watford five minutes from the end, but Blake had other ideas and scored his second. "We shot ourselves in the foot. Twice," Watford's manager Adrian Boothroyd said.

At the Hawthorns, Zoltan Gera, Ishmael Miller and Roman Bednar were on target as West Bromwich Albion, fourth, regained momentum with a 3-0 defeat of Plymouth Argyle, who dropped out of the play-offs places. "There was an edginess about us," Albion's boss Tony Mowbray admitted, "but there was a real determination too."

Fifth-placed Charlton Athletic recovered from last Saturday's five-goal drubbing at Blackpool with a 2-0 win at Sheffield United. Chris Iwelumo scored on the stroke of half-time after Greg Halford's long throw created panic in the Blades' defence, and Sam Sodje made it 2-0 with eight minutes left.

Ipswich Town edged back into the top six after David Norris's 56th-minute strike earned a point from a 1-1 draw at Southampton. Five minutes earlier, Stern John had given the Saints the lead. On a day when the Colchester United striker Teddy Sheringham announced his imminent retirement, the relegation clouds grew darker over the Us. Sylvan Ebanks-Blake collected a long ball and scored with a powerful shot to earn the visitors Wolverhampton Wanderers a 1-0 win. The Us replaced Scunthorpe United as the bottom club because goals by Martin Paterson and Jack Cork earned the Iron a 2-1 home win against Coventry City. Sheffield Wednesday remain in the bottom three after a goalless draw in the Yorkshire derby with Barnsley at Oakwell.

Clinton Morrison's second-half goal was enough to earn Crystal Palace a 1-0 win at Preston North End, and a Darren Purse own goal saw Leicester City's load lighten with a 1-0 win at Cardiff City, while Stephen McPhee scored Blackpool's goals in their 2-1 win at Norwich City.

In League One, Jason Scotland scored on the stroke of half-time as Swansea City won 1-0 at Huddersfield Town, stretching their lead at the top to 14 points. In League Two, Wrexham and Mansfield Town, the bottom two hovering above the League trap door, drew 1-1.

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