posted on Feb, 19 2005 @ 02:17 PM
Wigan closed the gap on Coca-Cola Championship leaders Ipswich with a convincing 3-0 defeat of Leeds at the JJB Stadium.
The Tractor Boys only managed a 1-1 draw at Preston last night while the chasing pack also lost ground, making Wigan's victory all the more important.
Nathan Ellington, the division's top scorer, shrugged off his marker to tap home Gary Teale's cross to put Wigan into a deserved lead. And the hosts
went on to create a host of chances but failed to build on their one goal advantage until the second half when Jason Roberts broke through. Leeds then
crumbled and Alan Mahon managed to add a third goal to further crush the visitors' confidence as their slim play-off hopes took a big knock.
Sunderland slipped three points off the automatic promotion places as they were humbled 2-1 by 10-man Brighton. Richard Carpenter put Albion ahead
thanks to a fortuitous deflection from a corner but when Adam Virgo was sent off for the home side for a second caution, the situation looked less
gloomy for Sunderland. The Black Cats pressed forward but were punished for their adventurous surges when Mark McCammon doubled the Seagulls' lead.
Argentinian Julio Arca pulled a goal back 10 minutes from time but it was not enough for the visitors, who remain in third place.
Fading Reading lost 2-1 at home to struggling Coventry to slip out of the play-off zone. Veteran Les Ferdinand had headed the fifth-placed Royals in
front in the first half from Nicky Shorey's cross. But Gary McSheffrey equalised after 63 minutes and the home side were condemned to defeat when new
signing Trevor Benjamin controlled the ball expertly and strike partner Stern John pounced in spectacular style to volley home.
Derby moved into fourth place after coming from behind to beat basement boys Rotherham 3-1. Martin Butler's penalty put the home side ahead but the
Rams levelled quickly. Jeff Kenna whipped in a cross and the ever-impressive Grzegorz Rasiak got on the end of it to move the visitors level. Tommy
Smith managed to cross the ball at the second attempt and his persistence paid off when Marcus Tudgay latched onto his ball two minutes after the
restart to complete the turnaround. The impressive Rams sealed their sixth-consecutive away victory thanks to an Inigo Idiakez penalty after Phil
Gilchrist fouled Tom Huddlestone in the box.
West Ham replaced Reading in the play-off zone after a 5-0 hammering of visitors Plymouth, scoring two penalties at Upton Park. When Bjarni Gudjonsson
handled in the area with 10 minutes gone, Marlon Harewood put the ball on the spot and gave the Hammers the lead. The lead was doubled when Luke
McCormick failed to clear Sergei Rebrov's corner, only managing to chest it into his own net. And defender Malky Mackay sealed the victory before the
first half was even over, finishing expertly after Teddy Sheringham's flick-on. In the second half Sheringham scored himself, nodding home Carl
Fletcher's well-executed cross before scoring a penalty at the second attempt to make it five. Mathias Doumbe was sent off for a professional foul
after conceding the kick and when Sheringham's initial kick was saved, the assistant referee spared his blushes by giving him a second opportunity.
Stoke completed a slick smash-and-grab to beat Millwall 1-0 at the New Den, Kenwyne Jones powerfully heading Kevin Harper's cross past Millwall
stopper Andy Marshall.
Wolves and Gillingham played out an exciting 2-2 draw at Molineux despite a tiresome first half. After a lacklustre first 45 minutes Gillingham took
the game by the scruff of the neck when Darius Henderson scored a deserved opener, smashing the ball home after 55 minutes. The goal kick-started
Wolves and Kenny Miller equalised five minutes later to silent the home fans' boos. But Michael Flynn put relegation-threatened Gillingham in front
once again with seconds of normal time remaining - only for Leon Clarke to save Wolves' skin with a goal in injury time.