Marcus Stewart's volley took Sunderland to within one point of the second automatic promotion place in the Coca-Cola Championship as the Black Cats
claimed a third successive victory.
They earned a narrow 1-0 win over Sheffield United, taking advantage of draws by top two Ipswich and Wigan to improve their chances of climbing back
into the top flight without going through the play-offs. Veteran Stewart made the breakthrough in the 44th minute, finding the net with a ruthless
finish after Stephen Elliott's cross had found him.
While mid-table Leeds were beginning a new era under chairman Ken Bates with a 1-0 win at Stoke thanks to Wayne Thomas' own goal, the top two were
both left frustrated.
Leaders Ipswich thought they had pinched all three points at Reading when Darren Bent fired home in the first minute of injury-time, but then Ivar
Ingimarsson grabbed an even more dramatic equaliser 60 seconds later with a left-footed volley.
They continue to hold a two-point advantage over Wigan who were jolted by Watford at the JJB Stadium. The Hornets, who take on Liverpool in the second
leg of the Carling Cup semi-final on Tuesday, were unlucky not to claim all three points at Wigan where Bruce Dyer gave them a 13th-minute lead and
Danny Webber restored the advantage in the 26th minute after Lee McCulloch had briefly pulled the home side level. The outstanding McCulloch rescued a
point for Wigan with a 52nd-minute leveller.
There was late drama at the New Den where Wolves sneaked a 2-1 win at Millwall's expense. Wolves went in front after 37 minutes when Seyi George
Olofinjana rifled home, but Wise's penalty with 13 minutes remaining looked to have earned the Lions a point. The visitors had other ideas, however,
and Ki-Hyeon Seol rammed home a stunning drive in the third minute of injury-time to guarantee a maximum return.
QPR also left it late at Highfield Road, where Micky Adams suffered a tortuous finale to his first game as Coventry boss. A header from the home
side's Adie Williams just before the hour mark cancelled out Jamie Cureton's early opener, but Paul Furlong then pinched the points for Ian Holloway's
men with another stoppage-time strike.
Brighton's Leon Knight missed an early penalty as Albion were held to a goalless draw by second-bottom Nottingham Forest at the Withdean, while
Cardiff were 2-0 winners over Burnley at Ninian Park thanks to goals from Richard Langley and Graham Kavanagh.
Rotherham, rooted to the foot of the table, led for more than half the match at Crewe after John Mullin netted in the 33rd minute, but Andy White
rescued the home side with a late equaliser, 11 minutes from time.
David Connolly and Matt Heath scored in the opening half hour as Leicester overcame Gillingham 2-0 at the Walkers Stadium, while Preston climbed above
Millwall and into sixth place by winning by the same scoreline at Plymouth. They also edged above West Ham who face Derby on Sunday at Upton Park.
Chris Sedgwick and Patrick Agyemang, both recent signings, got the goals.