With Wigan Athletic and Ipswich Town, the top two in the Coca-Cola Championship, not playing until Tuesday, third-placed Sunderland took the opportunity to draw level on points with the Suffolk side after a 2-1 win over Burnley at the Stadium of Light. Brian Jensen in the Clarets' goal had pulled off three fine saves in the first half-hour to keep the Wearsiders at bay but Julio Arca broke the deadlock after 35 minutes when Michael Bridges fashioning the chance.
Sunderland immediately switched off and left Graham Branch unmarked a minute later to coolly equalise for the Clarets. But the hosts dominated the second period and got their reward through Liam Lawrence's scrappy winner.
Sheffield United moved up to fifth after they came from behind to beat Cardiff City 2-1 at Bramall Lane. Neil Harris, in his first start while on loan from Millwall, put the Bluebirds ahead after 41 minutes as the Blades struggled to adapt to a new 3-5-2 formation. A minute later Cardiff were reduced to 10 men when their captain, Graham Kavanagh, lunged wildly at Jon Harley and was sent off for the second time this season.
"We were very poor in the first half," United's manager, Neil Warnock, admitted. "The two forwards didn't do anything right, it was a toss-up between Andy Gray and Paul Shaw over who came off." After 69 minutes Michael Tonge's pass set up Andy Liddell's equaliser and 10 minutes later the reprieved Gray hit a close-range winner. "The sending-off was the killer," Warnock added.
A gloomy meeting of the bottom two at the Priestfield Stadium brought some comfort to Gillingham who despatched Rotherham United 3-1. In his first home match as manager, Stan Ternent saw his Gills side have the better of a poor first half but they did not go ahead until the 70th minute through a Chris Hope header. Substitute Matthew Jarvis made it 2-0 and although a Millers substitute, Will Hoskins, pulled a goal back, Paolo Vernazza put through his own goal to leave them 10 points from safety.
George Burley's much-improved Derby County beat Plymouth Argyle 2-0 at Home Park and are just two points off a play-off place. A Graham Coughlan first-half own goal and Paul Peschisolido's strike were enough to beat Argyle.
Meanwhile, Coventry City eased their slight relegation concerns with a 1-0 defeat of Watford at Vicarage Road, Gary McSheffrey scoring in first-half injury time.
In League One, the leaders Luton Town won 2-1 at Bristol City, Enoch Showumni scoring the winner in added time. Third-placed Tranmere Rovers got through three goalkeepers at Hull City, second, which went some way to explaining the 6-1 mauling the Tigers gave Rovers. First choice John Achterberg was injured, as was substitute Russell Howarth and so defender Theo Whitmore played in goal for the second half and let in a Stuart Elliott hat-trick.
A meeting of two former Sheffield Wednesday managers in their first and second matches respectively as managers of Stockport County (Chris Turner) and Milton Keynes Dons (Danny Wilson) saw Jon Daly score twice in County's 3-1 win. In League Two the leaders, Scunthorpe United, trailed but won 3-1 at Rushden & Diamonds.Reuse content