posted on Dec, 18 2004 @ 11:54 AM
Sunderland gained ground on the Coca-Cola Championship's top two with a 2-1 win over Burnley at the Stadium of Light.
With leaders Wigan and Ipswich playing each other in midweek, the Black Cats moved level on points with the second-placed Tractor Boys. Talisman Julio
Arca put his side ahead 10 minutes before half-time but they were caught napping after the goal and Graham Branch equalised for Burnley immediately.
After the break Sunderland got themselves back in front with what proved to be a fortuitous winner, Liam Lawrence's cross fooling the Burnley defence
and somehow creeping into the net.
Fourth-placed Reading also kept up the pressure with a narrow 1-0 win over QPR. The win came thanks to an impressive Nicky Shorey free-kick which
Chris Day was unable to save. QPR's hopes of an equaliser was dealt a blow when striker Jamie Cureton was sent off for violent conduct.
Alan Pardew's West Ham have fallen behind in the promotion race after being beaten 2-1 at Preston. American Eddie Lewis put Preston ahead with a
spectacular drive from outside the area, and Pardew's day deteriorated further when Brian O'Neil extended the advantage on the stroke of half-time.
But half-time substitute Nigel Reo-Coker dragged the Hammers back into it with his 50th-minute goal, though his team-mates were unable to muster a
In the day's basement battle Gillingham emerged 3-1 winners at home to Rotherham. After early pressure Chris Hope finally put the Gills ahead with a
looping header to put a smile on new boss Stan Ternent's face. And Matthew Jarvis fired his side further ahead with a well-taken shot which went in
off the post. Will Hoskins pulled one back a minute from the end to give the Gills a nervous climax but a Paolo Vernazza own goal rubbished any hope
of a Millers equaliser.
A Graham Coughlan own goal sent Plymouth on their way to a 2-0 defeat at home to Derby. Coughlan turned the ball into his own net in the first-half
after good work by Rams veteran Paul Peschisolido. And the Canadian scored himself after 62 minutes, rounding the goalkeeper to secure the win.
A late Carl Cort equaliser spared Glenn Hoddle's blushes as Wolves struggled to a 1-1 draw at home to Crewe. Prolific Dean Ashton put Crewe ahead with
his 10th goal in only eight games to force Wolves to come out in search of an equaliser. But Cort popped up in the dying moments to rescue a draw for
the struggling Black Country side.
Gary McSheffrey's goal in first-half injury time was enough for Coventry to beat Watford at home, providing three much-needed points for
under-pressure Sky Blues boss Peter Reid.
Earlier Sheffield United survived a first-half scare to beat Cardiff 2-1, moving them up to fifth in the Coca-Cola Championship table. Cardiff's
on-loan striker Neil Harris fired the visitors ahead but after the break Andy Liddell equalised after 69 minutes and 10 minutes later Andy Gray
completed the turnaround with the winner.