Wolves 2 Charlton 1
Sylvan Ebanks-Blake went from villain to hero in the space of ten minutes to spare Wolves’ blushes against bottom of the table Charlton.
Wolves took their time to get into their stride but with their first attack opened the scoring on 35 minutes when Chris Iwelumo came back to haunt his former club with his first goal in 17 games from Michael Kightly’s cross.
However, despite being 12 points from safety before kick-off, Charlton have begun to show signs of a recovery of late and a long-range strike from Zheng Zhi hauled them level five minutes after the break.
Ebanks-Blake then wasted the chance to re-establish Wolves’ lead when he missed from the penalty spot, but the club’s top scorer made amends when he headed in his 24th goal of the campaign 11 minutes from time.
Doncaster 0-2 Birmingham
Birmingham gave their promotion hopes a boost with a victory over Doncaster that moved them seven points clear of third place.
The Blues struck twice in the first half with goals from Cameron Jerome and Hameur Bouazza enough to seal the points for Alex McLeish’s side.
Doncaster came into the game on a run of only two defeats in their last 12 league games, but fell behind after 19 minutes when Jerome headed a Sebastian Larsson cross powerfully into the bottom corner from 12 yards.
Birmingham’s second came courtesy of a terrible blunder from Rovers left-back Gareth Roberts, whose back pass was intercepted by Bouazza who netted his first for the club.
Reading 0 Ipswich 1
An overhead kick from Jonathan Stead kept alive Ipswich’s slim hopes of reaching the play-offs while condemning Reading to their third home defeat in four games.
Reading had the opportunity to move within a point of Birmingham in second spot, but struggled to take advantage of their superiority in the first half.
And they were made to pay two minutes after the break when Stead produced his spectacular finish from Tommy Miller’s cross to settle the encounter, while Kevin Lisbie wasted some late chances to double the advantage.
Burnley 5 Nottingham Forest 0
Burnley produced a five-star performance to maintain their position in the play-off places as they ran out comfortable winners against relegation-threatened Nottingham Forest.
Following their cup exploits this season, this was Burnley’s 50th game of a busy campaign, but this didn’t stop Robbie Blake floating the ball over Paul Smith from 20 yards on 19 minutes.
Owen Coyle’s side extended their lead before half time when Blake squared the ball across for Wade Elliott to tap home from almost on the goal line.
Clarke Carlisle headed in Graham Alexander’s free-kick four minutes after the break to put the game beyond Forest before Jay Rodriguez struck from long range and Joey Gudjonsson completed the rout.
Sheffield United 4 Derby 2
Craig Beattie struck five minutes into added time to finally see off the challenge of a battling Derby and keep Sheffield United involved in the promotion mix.
Kevin Blackwell’s side have stuttered in their push for automatic promotion in recent weeks, drawing their last two games, but Kyle Naughton’s third of the season put them ahead inside six minutes.
And David Cotterill was again the provider on 20 minutes as his run and cross from the left was nodded in by Darius Henderson, before Rob Hulse scored against his previous club after the break to give Derby hope.
Henderson restored The Blades’ two-goal lead just past the hour, but Aston Villa loanee Barry Bannan came off the bench to again keep Derby in the game, before Beattie settled matters when he finished Greg Halford’s cross.
Preston 2 Coventry 1
Jon Parkin continued his rich vein of form to help Preston come from behind to beat Coventry and move them into the play-off places.
Clinton Morrison got Coventry off to a great start on 16 minutes as he was on hand to turn in Stephen Wright’s cross from close range for his 11th goal of the season.
But Preston are a tough proposition at home - unbeaten in 11 games - and they forced an equaliser when Ben Turner headed into his own net eight minutes before the break.
And Preston completed the turnaround 19 minutes from time when Parkin grabbed his fourth goal in five games, taking his chance from close range.
Swansea 1 Crystal Palace 3
Shefki Kuqi scored late on to give Crystal Palace an inspired three points and put the brakes on Swansea’s run towards promotion.
Swansea’s home record has helped in their surge towards promotion, but their run of one defeat in 19 games at the Liberty Stadium was put under threat when Victor Moses scored for the first time in 18 games.
On the hour Palace doubled their advantage when Jose Fonte climbed highest to nod in Nick Carle’s free-kick, but they threw away a two-goal lead in midweek and doubts circulated again when Gorka Pintado pulled one back.
However, The Eagles clung on gamely and the points were made safe late on when Kuqi struck four minutes into injury time from Clint Hill’s assist.
Watford 2 Sheffield Wednesday 2
Francis Jeffers scored a penalty seven minutes into stoppage time to earn Sheffield Wednesday a deserved draw at Watford.
Brian Laws’ side were gifted the opener in their quest to make a late surge towards the play offs as Scott Loach spilled Michael Gray’s corner at the feet of Marcus Tudgay and he rifled home his 13th of the season.
Wednesday were equally poor in defence before the break as Mark Beevers sliced the ball into his own net, before Jobi McAnuff headed the home side ahead against the run of play.
But just as it seemed Watford were going to hold on, Jon Harley fouled Jermaine Johnson in the box and Jeffers held his nerve to ensure that honours were even.
Barnsley 0 Blackpool 1
Wade Small’s strike 20 minutes from time ensured Barnsley fell back into the relegation places, while giving Blackpool breathing space from the drop.
Barnsley had the better of the opening period with a few long-range efforts from Adam Hammill keeping Blackpool goalkeeper Paul Rachubka on his toes.
Blackpool began to edge themselves back into the game after the interval and Small struck towards the end following good work from Joe Martin to give them only their second away win in 11 games.
Norwich 1 Plymouth 0
Norwich moved themselves out of the relegation places as David Mooney’s header was the difference against Plymouth.
Bryan Gunn’s side picked up a priceless three points in midweek when they beat Cardiff at Carrow Road and Mooney headed in his second in successive games to open the scoring from Sammy Clingan’s corner.
The Canaries had previously failed to win back-to-back league games since October, but despite having Daryl Russell sent-off late on, they held out for the much-needed win.
Southampton 0 QPR 0
Southampton extended their fine recent run to one defeat in six games with a goalless draw against out of form QPR.
The home side picked up their second successive draw but remain fully entrenched in the relegation zone as they couldn’t break down a well-organised Rangers side.
Jason Euell wasted their best chance in the first half but he made a mess of his opportunity when one-on-one with Radek Cerny, while the result means that QPR have failed to win in nine games.
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