Cardiff's woeful Christmas ended in embarrassment as they followed their Boxing Day defeat by Plymouth, then bottom of the table, by squandering a four-goal advantage against Peterborough, who now prop up the rest.
Two goals from Joe Ledley, his first since March, and a 13th of the campaign for Peter Whittingham, the division's top scorer, swept the visitors into a 4-0 half-time lead. As the game entered the 90th minute that deficit had still only been halved whereupon George Boyd volleyed a third and Josh Simpson scored his second of the game in stoppage time.
"I can safely say I have never been involved in anything like this before," said Cardiff manager, Dave Jones. "We should have won against Plymouth and Peterborough. The players have been told in no uncertain terms that is not good enough and they will continue to be told again and again."
It was not enough to hoist Peterborough off the bottom as Plymouth followed their win in Wales with a resounding 4-1 success over Reading, whose increasingly dire campaign took a further lurch downwards. Alan Judge scored twice and while Paul Mariner's side remain in the bottom three they are within a win of Reading and Scunthorpe. A rewarding day for the league's strugglers was completed with Jonathan Stead scoring twice to earn Ipswich a 3-0 win over QPR.
At the other end of the table, Newcastle saw two points shaved off their lead after being held to a goalless draw by Derby at St James' Park. It was a second draw in a row for Chris Hughton's side and leaves them six points ahead of West Bromwich Albion having played a game more. Nile Ranger hit the crossbar late on for the home side. Nottingham Forest kept up their pursuit of the top two with a 2-0 win over Coventry; they are now unbeaten in 16 league games.
Swansea manager Paulo Sousa was the day's angriest man after seeing his defender Albert Serran sent off by Anthony Taylor in a goalless draw with Crystal Palace. "The sending-off was ridiculous and if standards of refereeing are not improved it will kill the game," fumed Sousa. "l will not show him respect by speaking to him as he has not shown any respect to us by his actions today."
Middlesbrough lost again under Gordon Strachan, 2-1 to Barnsley, prompting a characteristically cryptic analysis from the manager. "We won the football match in the first half and they decided to turn it into a cup tie and then they won it," said Strachan. "We were disappointed to lose the game but we couldn't match them in a different game."Reuse content