Gary Megson's survival mission with Nottingham Forest ended in failure on Saturday as the club who won the European Cup in 1979 and 1980 had their
relegation to Coca-Cola League One confirmed.
The inevitable arrived came with a 2-1 defeat at QPR, leaving Forest six points adrift of fourth-bottom Gillingham with just one game to go this
season. Megson's arrival in January was followed by a brief upturn in Forest's fortunes, but a 6-0 defeat at Ipswich in mid-March proved a crippling
blow to morale from which they could not recover.
The former West Brom boss saw his side self-destruct at Loftus Road, with Darryl Powell sent off after 32 minutes for a second bookable offence, both
fouls. Then defender John Curtis headed a Lee Cook free-kick into his own net just before half-time to give QPR the advantage, and a fine Marc Bircham
strike after 51 minutes left Forest staring at third-tier football next season. Substitute Eugen Bopp pulled one back for Forest with a crisp finish
13 minutes from time, but their tepid display until then was thoroughly depressing for the fans who have known many better days.
While it was a torrid day for Forest, for Brighton there was delight as they climbed out of the relegation zone to 20th, giving themselves every
chance of avoiding the cull and plunging free-falling Crewe into the bottom three.
Brighton won 1-0 at relegated Rotherham thanks to Paul McLaren's headed own goal in the 19th minute, while Crewe were crushed 5-1 at Ipswich. Ipswich
are now level on points with second-placed Wigan, albeit 14 worse off in terms of goal difference ahead of next Sunday's final round of matches.
Wigan had drawn 1-1 at Preston earlier in the day, where Lee McCulloch put the Latics ahead and Brian O'Neil responded for the home side. Ipswich were
rampant at Portman Road, though, with Shefki Kuqi putting them ahead, captain Jim Magilton adding a second, before Tommy Miller struck twice in the
second half and Pablo Counago got in on the act in the closing minutes. David Vaughan's fine late strike can have been no consolation for Crewe, whose
days in the Championship look numbered.
Gillingham, two points clear of Crewe and who occupy the last remaining relegation place to be resolved, face Forest next week.
The Gills almost made sure of their survival on Saturday, Matthew Jarvis putting them ahead after 72 minutes against Cardiff, but their Welsh visitors
levelled through Paul Parry five minutes from full-time.
Play-off aspirants Derby stay fifth despite being pummelled 6-2 by Coventry in the last ever league match to be staged at Highfield Road. They move to
the new Ricoh Stadium for next season. Gary McSheffrey and Stern John both struck twice for Coventry who made sure of survival in style, with further
goals from Dele Adebola and substitute Andrew Whing. Adam Bolder and Paul Peschisolido netted for Derby. After a bad night for West Ham, beaten by
Sunderland on Friday, Saturday was a good day.
Reading's 2-1 home defeat by Wolves meant the Hammers climbed back into the top six on goals scored, with the Royals dropping out. Reading went ahead
after eight minutes through Nicky Forster, but Leon Clarke levelled and Rohan Ricketts drilled a late winner for Glenn Hoddle's side.
Sheffield United's play-off hopes look to be over.
They must win their last match heavily and hope both Reading and West Ham are well beaten to reach the top six, after Saturday's 1-0 home defeat by
Millwall, Jody Morris the matchwinner after five minutes.
Adrian Boothroyd's Watford are safe after their 1-0 victory at Stoke, where Heidar Helguson was the predictable matchwinner, while Burnley beat
Plymouth 2-0 at Turf Moor in the only game having no bearing on either promotion or relegation - Jean-Louis Valois and James O'Connor with late