Rooney hits wonderful hat-trick... for Stoke

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The Independent Football

Rooney scored a hat-trick yesterday. Unfortunately for England those five words do not herald a miraculous recovery by Wayne but three goals for his namesake, Adam, of Stoke, who beat Brighton 5-1 during the final thrusts of the Championship season yesterday.

Rooney, an 18-year-old Dubliner, first struck from 18 yards in the sixth minute. His second, from close range, came in the 22nd. Mamady Sidibe added the fourth before teeing up Rooney for his third after 63 minutes. Peter Sweeney added the fifth before Doug Loft's consolation.

Preston gained a psychological advantage for the play-offs with a 2-0 home win over Leeds. They go above Leeds and now meet at Elland Road on Friday with the return leg at Deepdale on Monday. Preston took the lead when Brian Stock fired a free-kick past a badly built Leeds wall. Brett Ormerod scrambled the second.

Watford finish third but will hope to play better than they did in drawing 0-0 with Hull. Reading beat Queen's Park Rangers 2-1 to reach 106 points and surpass Sunderland's record total of 105. Dave Kitson gave them the lead but Paul Furlong equalised. Graeme Murty then scored a penalty after Richard Langley's hand ball.

Championship play-offs: Fri 5 May: Leeds v Preston; Sat 6 May: Crystal Palace v Watford; Mon 8 May: Preston v Leeds; Tue 9 May: Watford v C Palace.