Round-up : Coventry end with demolition Derby

After 106 years of football, Highfield Road, scene of more exciting escape acts than Colditz, staged its final Coventry City game yesterday and, true to tradition, the Sky Blues avoided relegation one last time there with a 6-2 thrashing of their Midlands neighbour Derby County, denting the Rams' Coca-Cola Championship play-off hopes.

After 106 years of football, Highfield Road, scene of more exciting escape acts than Colditz, staged its final Coventry City game yesterday and, true to tradition, the Sky Blues avoided relegation one last time there with a 6-2 thrashing of their Midlands neighbour Derby County, denting the Rams' Coca-Cola Championship play-off hopes.

The demolition of Derby was as complete as that which awaits the old stadium and began in the 20th minute with the first of two goals for local lad Gary McSheffrey, who broke from midfield to score left-footed. Nine minutes later, after Mo Konjic had pushed over Klaus Jorgensen, he tucked away the penalty to put Micky Adams' side 2-0 up.

By half-time it was 4-0, Dele Adebola and Stern John on target. Six minutes after the restart Adam Bolder pulled a goal back but John's second soon restored Coventry's four goal lead. Paul Peschisolido made in 5-2 but then substitute Andrew Whing scored the Sky Blues' sixth and the final goal at Highfield Road to ensure their fans in the 22,728 crowd left the ground smiling.

The Coventry manager waxed philosophical. "Keeping Coventry up means a lot to me, but this is not the reason I came into management," Adams said. "Avoiding relegation does not constitute success for this football club so I'm not going to get too excited. I'm pleased we've beaten a very good Derby team. But it was just one game of football, in the grand scheme of things it means nothing."

The relegation equation narrowed to a straight contest between Brighton, Gillingham and Crewe to avoid the remaining place in the bottom three. Brighton moved out of that berth thanks to a 1-0 win at relegated Rotherham United. A Richard Carpenter free-kick from the left was met by the Millers defender Paul McLaren who headed high into his own net. But Mark McGhee's side will need to beat promotion hopefuls Ipswich Town at the Withdean Stadium next Sunday to be sure of staying up.

The imperilled players of Gillingham and Cardiff City showed their nerves at the Priestfield Stadium but the Bluebirds earned a point to ease away from the danger zone. Matthew Jarvis put the Gills ahead, but a Paul Parry header five minutes from time gave Cardiff a 1-1 draw and left the Gills still needing something from their last match, at relegated Nottingham Forest.

Meanwhile, Heidar Helguson scored the only goal of the game as Watford secured their place in the Championship next season with a 1-0 win at Stoke City. Adrian Boothroyd, the Hornets manager, has plans: "I'm one of those daft people who don't believe in realism," he said. "I believe we can get promoted next season."

Elsewhere, Sheffield United's slim chance of slipping into the top six disappeared when they were beaten 1-0 by Millwall at Bramall Lane and Burnley beat Plymouth Argyle 2-0 at Turf Moor.

No more issues were settled in League One where relegated Peterborough United lost 3-0 at home to Milton Keynes Dons, Izale McLeod scoring twice, which gives the Dons a chance of staying up. Wrexham also avoided the drop, for the time being, with a 4-1 win at bottom side Stockport, Juan Ugarte scoring his fourth hat-trick of a season in which he's scored 22 goals, 20 of them away from home.

In League Two, Kidderminster will join Cambridge United in the Conference after their 4-1 home defeat by Grimsby Town. But the promotion and play-off positions will be decided on the last day. Yeovil are a point clear at the top after a late Phil Jevons goal, his 28th of the season, earned a 1-0 win at Southend United who slipped to third.

The key issues

Championship

Sunderland are champions; Nottingham Forest and Rotherham relegated.

League One

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

League Two

Kidderminster Harriers and Cambridge United relegated.

Conference

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

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