Round-up: Wigan fire blanks but stay in second

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The Independent Online

The two sides battling for the second automatic promotion place to the Premiership are staggering, not sprinting, towards the finish. Second-placed Wigan Athletic, such prolific scorers earlier in the season, stumbled to a goalless draw with an injury-depleted Queen's Park Rangers at the JJB Stadium, but with two games left, they still have a two-point lead over third-placed Ipswich Town.

The two sides battling for the second automatic promotion place to the Premiership are staggering, not sprinting, towards the finish. Second-placed Wigan Athletic, such prolific scorers earlier in the season, stumbled to a goalless draw with an injury-depleted Queen's Park Rangers at the JJB Stadium, but with two games left, they still have a two-point lead over third-placed Ipswich Town.

The Latics manager, Paul Jewell, again preferred Brett Ormerod to Nathan Ellington as Jason Roberts' strike partner but the tactic was not a resounding success. Wigan created the chances but their finishing was wayward; they came closest when a Roberts shot thudded back off a post.

"We had some good chances - the only criticism is we didn't work the goalkeeper enough," Jewell said. "We are still in the melting pot and I wouldn't swap our position for anyone's except Sunderland."

Derby County consolidated their grip on a Coca-Cola Championship play-off place by beating Gillingham 2-0 at Pride Park. The Rams took the lead just past the half-hour when Paul Peschisolido got to the byline and pulled the ball back for Morten Bisgaard to score his third goal in three games. Peschisolido wrapped it up after 72 minutes.

"We've maintained all along that 75 points [they have 73] or above would do it," George Burley, the Derby manger, said. They play Midlands derbies with Leicester City and Coventry City and finish at Preston North End, who they could meet in the play-offs. "But we've only suffered one defeat in our last 14 games."

Meanwhile, Reading were losing 2-0 to Cardiff City at Ninian Park and dropped out of the play-off places as the Welsh side eased their relegation worries with goals by Peter Thorne and Cameron Jerome. "There are still plenty of teams who can get out of trouble at the bottom," Lennie Lawrence, the Cardiff manager, said. "You just don't know what's going to happen."

Sheffield United's hopes of a top-six finish continue to flicker after they grabbed a point from a 0-0 draw at Watford, who are still not free from relegation anxieties.

The pressure on Dario Gradi's Crewe intensified when they went down 2-0 at home to mid-table Stoke City. Nor are Coventry City out of the woods yet after Tony Capaldi struck an injury time equaliser for Plymouth Argyle to earn a 1-1 draw at Home Park. Wolves avoided a 22nd draw of the season by dint of the fact that they were playing relegated Rotherham. They duly won 2-0, Kenny Miller scoring both goals.

Luton Town are champions of League One after their 2-1 win at Wrexham and second-placed Hull City's 3-0 loss at Walsall, Julian Joachim scoring a hat-trick. At the bottom Peterborough United won 1-0 at Bournemouth but are still relegated along with Stockport County because Torquay United won 2-1 at Oldham Athletic.

In League Two, Cambridge United's fall from league membership after 35 years was completed when they could only draw 0-0 with Rochdale at the Abbey Stadium. Kidderminster should join them after a 3-0 defeat at Boston United left them needing colossal wins in their final two games. At the top, the lead changed hands again when Southend United lost 2-1 at Oxford United and were replaced as leaders by Yeovil, who drew 1-1 at Wycombe. Next weekend, Yeovil travel to Southend.

The key issues

Championship

Sunderland are promoted and Rotherham relegated.

League One

Luton Town are champions, Hull City promoted; Stockport County and Peterborough United relegated.

League Two

Cambridge United relegated.

Conference

Barnet champions; Hereford, Carlisle, Aldershot, Stevenage in play-offs; Forest Green, Leigh RMI and Farnborough relegated.

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