By James Pearson
Last Updated: 01/01/70 1:00am
Sunderland have extended their lead while Luton Town are all but down after defeat.
Sunderland have extended their Championship lead after beating QPR while Luton Town are all but down after defeat to Plymouth.
With Derby County slipping to a late defeat at Ipswich, The Black Cats are now four points clear at the summit with three games left.
Roy Keane's side did not have it their own way at The Stadium of Light with Martin Rowlands' penalty cancelling out Dean Whitehead's opener.
However, the home side were not to be denied and Grant Leadbitter's 76th minute effort has moved Sunderland one step closer to making a swift Premiership return.
Matt Oakley fired The Rams ahead early on at Ipswich but Francis Jeffers' goal and Danny Haynes' penalty ensured late heartache.
The Portman Road contest proved a heated affair with Stephen Bywater and Alex Bruce clashing in the first half that saw both players sent off.
Birmingham City remain third and closed to within a point of Derby after beating Southampton 2-1 at St Andrews.
Radhi Jaidi and Nicklas Bendtner scored either side of half-time while Marek Saganowski's late effort proved nothing more than a consolation.
At the foot of the table, Luton Town are all but down after slipping to a 2-1 defeat to Plymouth Argyle at Kenilworth Road.
Stephen O'Leary struck in the second half for The Hatters, but it was not enough as David Norris and Peter Halmosi netted for The Pilgrims in the first half.
A win for Hull City over Colchester at The KC Stadium would have relegated Luton.
However, Jamie Cureton secured a point for The U's when he cancelled out Nicky Forster's opener just after the hour mark.
Leeds United stay in the bottom three despite Matt Heath's 21st minute goal giving The Whites a priceless 1-0 success over Burnley at Elland Road.
Barnsley are a side on the up and they piled the pressure on Southend with a 3-1 success over The Shrimpers at Roots Hall.
A Daniel Nardiello brace sandwiched Kyel Reid's strike while Southend could only muster a Mark Gower consolation on 69 minutes.
Leicester are now just two points above the drop zone after going down 2-1 at home to Norwich.
Things were looking good early on for The Foxes thanks to Darren Kenton's goal just 46 seconds into the contest.
However, it was late heartache for Nigel Worthington against his former club as Robert Earnshaw's penalty and Gareth McAuley's own goal secured the points for Norwich.
Stoke missed out on moving into the play-off spots after being held to a late draw at Cardiff City.
Carl Hoefkens' goal had The Potters on course for a fourth successive win before Michael Chopra snatched a late point.
Preston returned to winning ways with a 4-0 demolition of Coventry City at The Ricoh.
The Lilywhites had lost their previous four games, but first half goals from Chris Sedgwick and David Nugent set them on their way.
Brett Ormerod bagged a second half brace as Preston climbed back into fourth in the table.
The points were shared at Selhurst Park as Crystal Palace drew 2-2 with 10-men Wolves.
Mark Hudson gave The Eagles the lead, but a Jay Bothroyd brace turned the contest on its head.
Jobi McAnuff brought Palace level before the break, although they failed to find a winner despite playing the second half against ten men following Mark Little's dismissal.
Click below for match summaries:
Birmingham 2-1 Southampton
Cardiff City 1-1 Stoke City
Coventry 0-4 Preston
Crystal Palace 2-2 Wolves
Hull City 1-1 Colchester
Ipswich 2-1 Derby
Leeds Utd 1-0 Burnley
Leicester 1-2 Norwich
Luton Town 1-2 Plymouth
Southend 1-3 Barnsley
Sunderland 2-1 QPR