Sunderland powered into the Coca-Cola Championship's automatic promotion places on goal difference after a rare Gary Breen strike and Marcus Stewart's 13th goal of the season earned a 2-1 win over Cardiff City at the Stadium of Light.
Sunderland powered into the Coca-Cola Championship's automatic promotion places on goal difference after a rare Gary Breen strike and Marcus Stewart's 13th goal of the season earned a 2-1 win over Cardiff City at the Stadium of Light. It was quite a turnaround after defeat at Brighton last week. "I was at pains last week to point out things will change," Mick McCarthy, the Wearsiders' manager, said. "The old saying of a week in politics is a long time was highlighted this week in football. Look where we are now, things look different after two wins. "
The Black Cats went ahead after only four minutes when Andy Welsh crossed to the far post where Breen was waiting to score. Two minutes before half-time Dean Whitehead centred and Stewart got in front of Tony Vidmar to head into the corner. Vidmar atoned in the second half when he scored with five minutes left to set up a frantic finish in which Cardiff's Alan Lee was sent off.
As warm-ups for an FA Cup replay against Arsenal go, Sheffield United's 1-0 disposal of the bottom team, Rotherham United, was less than convincing. Paul Shaw scored the winner six minutes into the second half. "Today the result was 10 times more important than the performance," Neil Warnock, the Blades manager, said. "The first half was terrible. We had some pretty strong words with them at half-time and I think they put on a decent display in the second."
In the play-off berths, Preston North End and West Ham United swapped places as Billy Davies' side beat Burnley 1-0 in the North-West derby, while West Ham United lost 2-1 at Leeds United, themselves now only four points away from the top six. Preston's winner came from Graham Alexander's contentious 82nd-minute penalty after Lee Roche felled Eddie Lewis. Preston go fifth. Meanwhile, West Ham seemed to have salvaged a point at Leeds when Gavin Williams' first goal for the East Londoners levelled the scores, Rob Hulse having put the Yorkshire side ahead. But after Matthew Etherington hit the post for the Hammers, Shaun Derry hit Leeds' winner four minutes remaining.
Sitting just outside the top six, neither Reading nor Millwall were able to take serious advantage of the Hammers' slip-up. At the Madejski Stadium Reading and Leicester City drew 0-0 - "We are dismal at the moment," the Reading manager, Steve Coppell, admitted - but the Lions lost 1-0 to Brighton at the Withdean Stadium, the goal coming in the first minute of injury time when Gary Hart crashed in the winner. There was still time for Millwall's Mark Phillips to be sent off.
At the bottom, Coventry City slipped closer to the relegation places when they drew 0-0 with Stoke City at Highfield Road. It could have been worse. The Sky Blues goalkeeper, Ian Bennett, was sent off for handling outside the penalty area and, with no substitute goalkeeper - "If we had a fit goalkeeper at the club he would have been on the bench," Micky Adams, the Coventry manager said - captain Stephen Hughes went in goal and kept a clean sheet.
Plymouth Argyle's problems eased with a second 3-0 win of the week, Crewe the victims this time, while Wolves were booed off after drawing 0-0 with Watford. It was the Molineux side's ninth draw in the 12 league games since Glenn Hoddle was made manager.
In Leagues One and Two both leaders lost. In One, Luton Town went down 3-1 at Port Vale while second-placed Hull City beat Colchester United 2-0 and the Two leaders, Yeovil, lost 2-1 at Grimsby Town. Behind the Glovers, four teams, Scunthorpe, Macclesfield, Swansea and Southend, are level on 60 points.Reuse content