By Tom Adams
Last Updated: 01/01/70 1:00am
Sheffield United lost further ground on Reading as Watford hammered Coventry.Sheffield United lost further ground on Reading as Watford hammered Coventry to move within nine points of automatic promotion in The Championship.
Neil Warnock's men could not break the deadlock in a 0-0 draw with Plymouth that leaves them 12 points behind The Royals - who won 2-0 against Southampton on Friday night.
However, it was a more successful afternoon for Watford who remain in third position after recording a comprehensive 4-0 win over Coventry.
The attacking pair of Ashley Young and Marlon King caused the visitors all kinds of problems, and it was Young who eased his side ahead just after the half hour mark.
The youngster then turned provider as his corner allowed King to claim the second with a great finish on 59 minutes, and he set up another when Darius Henderson (78) made it three.
The Hornets further underlined their promotion credentials when Jay DeMerit converted with eight minutes to go
Leeds were unable to match Adrian Boothroyd's side as a 0-0 draw away to Derby left them two points behind Watford in fourth.
Preston moved into fifth and extended their unbeaten run to a magnificent 24 games with a 5-1 victory over Luton - the last team to beat them in The Championship.
North End opened the scoring after 20 minutes when Lewis Neal forced his way through the Hatters defence and finished past Marlon Beresford, and doubled their lead eight minutes after half time when David Nugent converted with a glancing header.
Mike Newell's men pulled one back late on through a Tyrone Mears own goal (82), and incredibly the same player made amends just 60 seconds later when he tapped in to restore a two-goal lead.
Mears also won a penalty from which Chris Sedgwick scored in the dying minutes, as Luton had Beresford dismissed for the foul, and inflicted further pain when Claude Davis scored deep into injury time.
The result saw Preston leapfrog Crystal Palace who drew 0-0 against Sheffield Wednesday at Hillsborough.
Cardiff kept up their play-off charge with a convincing 3-0 victory over Stoke at Ninian Park.
The Welsh outfit went ahead when Kevin Cooper lashed home a fine effort on 18 minutes, and experienced stopper Neil Cox made sure of the points as he converted from two set pieces (30, 68) for an unlikely brace.
Wolves are now nine points shy of the top six after slipping up in a 1-1 draw with Crewe Alexandra.
The Championship's bottom side took a surprise lead after just six minutes through Billy Jones, although Glenn Hoddle's side fought back and drew level when Mark Kennedy (45) lashed home.
Ipswich overtook Burnley to move into tenth with a 2-1 win over The Clarets.
Steve Cotterill's side had taken the lead when Michael Ricketts scored on the stroke of half time but in the second half Alan Lee (62) pegged them back and Matthew Richards scored from the spot with eight minutes to go.
Wayne Thomas was also dismissed for the away side for two bookable offences, the second of which occurred on 81 minutes.
QPR won their first game after Ian Holloway's enforced exit with a 1-0 victory over Millwall in a London derby.
Marc Nygaard gave caretaker Gary Waddock a fine start when he scored on 56 minutes, and things got worse for David Tuttle's visitors when Alan Dunne was given a second yellow for a foul on Steve Lomas.
Norwich claimed a 1-1 draw with Hull at The KC Stadium.
Peter Taylor's men had gone ahead when Leon Cort headed in on 26 minutes, although Stuart Elliot scored an own goal with three minutes to go.
Leicester pulled away from the relegation zone with a 2-1 victory over fellow strugglers Brighton - who had Dean Hammond dismissed in the dying minutes.
The Foxes went into an early lead with two goals in the first five minutes, when Patrick McCarthy stabbed home and Canadian forward Iain Hume sidestepped the keeper and converted into an empty net.
Mark McGhee's men pegged one back when Alexandre Frutos struck on 56 minutes but could not draw level in the closing stages.
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| Brighton|| 1-2|| Leicester|
| Cardiff|| 3-0|| Stoke|
| Derby|| 0-0|| Leeds|
| Hull|| 1-1|| Norwich|
| Ipswich|| 2-1|| Burnley|
| Plymouth|| 0-0|| Sheffield United|
| Preston|| 5-1|| Luton|
| QPR|| 1-0|| Millwall|
| Sheff Wed|| 0-0|| Crystal Palace|
| Watford|| 4-0|| Coventry|
| Wolves|| 1-1|| Crewe|