Round-up: Ipswich chip away at faltering Wigan's lead

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The Independent Football

Having scored eight goals in five days against Preston North End and Sheffield United, Ipswich Town's vibrant Championship form continued when Darren Bent scored both goals in the 2-0 win at Burnley, which cut their deficit on leaders Wigan Athletic to three points.

The Clarets, who have accumulated more points away from home than at Turf Moor, were soon trailing again in front of their own fans when, shortly after Jim Magilton had hit the bar, Bent put Joe Royle's side ahead. A 15th-minute clearance by goalkeeper Kelvin Davis gave Bent clear a run on goal and he beat Brian Jensen with comfort. His second was even better. Starting on the right wing, the England Under-21 cut inside and drove his eighth goal of the season into the roof of the net.

At the end of a week in which they'd lost one and drawn one away from home, third-placed Reading returned to the Madejski Stadium and to winning ways when they beat Stoke City 1-0. After 23 minutes, Dean Morgan broke down the right and his low centre ran across the six-yard box to the far post where Dave Kitson was waiting to score his 11th goal this season.

While Gerald Krasner, the Leeds United chairman, and his board await "definite" proof that the Sebastian Sainsbury-fronted takeover bid for the club, the team did their bit to increase the market price with an impressive 4-2 win over Preston at Deepdale.

Perhaps it was an inevitable result because Leeds had just bought North End's Northern Ireland striker David Healy and he duly chipped in with two first-half goals, in the 15th and 44th minutes, to put the Yorkshire side firmly in charge. Brian Deane had already opened their account, and despite two goals from Richard Cresswell, Leeds had too much in the bank. Not often they've been able to say that lately.

Another fallen giant, Derby County, have struggled for a couple of seasons but stuck with manager George Burley and now their patience is being rewarded with a spell of resurgent form that has lifted the Rams to eighth, four points off the play-offs.

Yesterday's see-saw 2-2 draw at Watford saw them trail when Ashley Young and Neal Ardley set up a chance for Heidar Helguson, who headed the Hornets into the lead four minutes before the break. But Ian Taylor levelled for the Rams and Paul Peschisolido put them ahead before Brynjar Gunnarsson rescued a point for the hosts.

A point ahead of Derby, Sheffield United, mauled 5-1 in midweek at Portman Road, were unable to breakdown a poor, if hard-working Gillingham in a 0-0 draw at home.

Having squandered two-goal leads in their two previous matches, bottom club Rotherham United turned the tables on Cardiff City, fresh from their 4-1 dissection of West Ham United, by coming back from 2-0 down to draw 2-2 with the Welsh side at Millmoor.

Heavily tipped to be the next big-money signing off the Dario Gradi production line, Dean Ashton, Crewe Alexandra's England Under-21 striker, scored twice as the Railwaymen thrashed Brighton 3-1 at the Withdean Stadium to ease above the South Coast side. Ashton had already hit the woodwork when David Vaughan, who laid on all three Crewe goals, passed square for the striker's far-post finish. His second goal was his 11th goal this term.

Almost half the Luton Town team scored as the Hatters kept their six-point lead at the top of League One by thrashing Wrexham 5-1 at Kenilworth Road showing no short-term effects of coach Mick Harford's departure to Nottingham Forest. That city's other club, County, had sacked manager Gary Mills and beat lowly Shrewsbury Town 3-0.

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