Teale ensures Wigan bounce back to establish stranglehold at top

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The Independent Football

Gary Teale and Jason Roberts scored the goals as Wigan Athletic, second in the Coca-Cola Championship, beat the bottom side, Rotherham United, 2-0 at Millmoor to open up a six-point gap over the play-off places, where Reading, fourth, struggled to a 0-0 draw at Burnley and fifth-placed Sheffield United lost 2-1 at home to lowly Brighton.

Gary Teale and Jason Roberts scored the goals as Wigan Athletic, second in the Coca-Cola Championship, beat the bottom side, Rotherham United, 2-0 at Millmoor to open up a six-point gap over the play-off places, where Reading, fourth, struggled to a 0-0 draw at Burnley and fifth-placed Sheffield United lost 2-1 at home to lowly Brighton.

In a poor game at Millmoor, Wigan waited until the 69th minute to take the lead when Roberts set up substitute Teale. Roberts added the second in injury time.

"I wasn't best pleased with our performance to be honest," Paul Jewell, the Latics manager, said. "We did OK in terms of battling but weren't at the races elsewhere. On the plus side its our third clean sheet and third 2-0 win on the trot in the League."

Reading's home form has been the basis of their challenge but since Dave Kitson's injury the goals have dried up. Their goalless draw at Turf Moor was the Royals' fourth League match without scoring.

Meanwhile Brighton were frustrating Neil Warnock's Sheffield side at Bramall Lane. The Blades were attacking at the end of the first half when a three-man counter ended with Leon Knight slipping the ball to Richard Carpenter, who scored. A Kerry Mayo own-goal restored parity early in the second half but three minutes into stoppage time Knight won it.

"We were unprofessional today," Warnock said. "The defence were poor in certain situations. At the standard we are playing, this shouldn't be allowed."

On the fringes of the play-offs Preston North End kept themselves in touch with a 1-1 draw with Leicester City at Deepdale. Leicester gave a full debut to Alan Maybury, one of two recent recruits from Hearts, and when his cross wasn't cleared, David Connolly volleyed in. But Preston were the better side and deserved Paul McKenna's second-half equaliser.

For Watford, cups have been running over. In the past eight days the Hornets drew with Fulham in the FA Cup and lost narrowly at Liverpool in the Carling Cup semi-final first leg, and took heart from such Premier class displays when they beat Crewe 3-1 at Vicarage Road.

Watford led from the ninth minute when Heidar Helguson controlled a long ball on his chest by and volleyed in. His second arrived 20 minutes later, converted from 18 yards.

"Heidar is so reliable and he has now scored 16 goals, and thanks to our cup exploits we don't have to sell him," Ray Lewington, the relieved Hornets manager, said.

Jay DeMerit made it 3-0 at the start of the second half and although Luke Varney pulled a goal back it was an easy three points for Watford, who face Fulham in a replay, Wigan, and then host Liverpool for the Carling semi-final second leg.

Leeds United, finally off Sebastien Sainsbury's shopping list, became no more attractive to any prospective buyer after they drew 1-1 with Cardiff City at Elland Road. They were ahead after just 14 minutes through Simon Walton but seven minutes into the second half Peter Thorne equalised. "We have made a conscious decision not to talk about the situation," Kevin Blackwell, the manager, said, "but you only have to turn on the television, the radio or pick up a newspaper to see that we are in big, big trouble. That's the ramifications of three or four years of indulgence"

Gillingham's prospects of escaping the drop continued to improve when Andy Crofts, who signed a new contract in the morning, connected with a diving header just after the hour. It was enough to beat their visitors, Plymouth Argyle, who had Paul Connolly sent off.

New leaders in League One where Hull City were held to a 2-2 home draw by Peterborough United and Luton Town beat bottom side Stockport County 3-0 to go back to the top on goal difference.

The League Two leaders, Yeovil Town, lost 2-1 at Oxford United; second-placed Scunthorpe United are level on points after beating Bury 3-2.

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