By Phil Jackson
Last Updated: 01/01/70 1:00am
Preston closed the gap at the top, as Derby, Southampton, Colchester and West Brom won.
Preston North End closed the gap on league leaders Birmingham City with a 1-0 win at Sunderland, as Derby County, Southampton, Colchester United and West Bromwich Albion all kept up their challenges.
At the other end of the table, there was no change in the bottom three, although Hull City moved within two points of Barnsley and safety.
Level on points with The Rams at the start of the day, it was the familiar face of David Nugent (36) who popped up for The Lilywhites with his third goal in three games. The win takes Paul Simpson's side within six points of Birmingham and top spot, as Roy Keane's side slip down one place to 12th.
Morten Bisgaard meanwhile, proved Derby's saviour at Pride Park, as County defeated Plymouth Argyle 1-0. Ian Holloway's side battled bravely for 81 minutes before Bisgaard broke the deadlock and Plymouth hearts to keep The Rams level with North End.
Southampton moved up to fourth with a 2-0 win over Leicester City at St Mary's. The kick-off was delayed by 45 minutes because of the weather, but when it did finally get underway The Saints came firing out of the traps through Pedro Pele (9) and David Prutton (53). The result takes the South Coast outfit up to 44 points and condemns The Foxes to 17th in the table.
West Brom moved into fifth with a 2-0 win over their bogey team Ipswich Town. Albion had previously won just once in their last 13 games home and away against the visitors. But Diomansy Kamara's 12th of the season gave Tony Mowbray's team a vital lead on 53 minutes and Jason Koumas' strike (67) ensured all three points stayed at The Hawthorns.
Colchester United notched their 11th straight home win, with a 2-1 victory over Wolverhampton Wanderers. Jamie Cureton (4) and Chris Iwelumo (45) gave United the points, although Neill Collins (92) notched a late consolation for Wolves. The result takes United into the play-off places and things looks bright at Layer Road.
In contrast, Cardiff City's fall from grace continued as they were frustrated at Ninian Park in a stalemate with Crystal Palace. Both sides have struggled of late and the point sees Cardiff drop out of the play-off places and into eighth.
Stoke City were the team to benefit, as they leapfrogged City with a 3-1 win over lowly Leeds United at The Britannia. Mamady Sidibe's 12th minute strike gave The Potters the lead before Ian Moore fired back for The Whites on 41 minutes. An Ugo Ehiogu own goal spelled disaster for Dennis Wise's men on 54 minutes and Ricardo Fuller made sure of the points with 13 minutes to go.
Burnley slipped up meanwhile, with a 2-0 defeat against Hull at The KC Stadium. Dean Marney got The Tigers off to a great start with the game's opener on six minutes, and a Craig Fagan penalty on 23 minutes was enough to see Burnley slip down one.
Elliot Ward (12) gave Micky Adams reason to smile in Coventry City's 1-1 draw at The Ricoh Arena. But Southend United equalised through Mark Gower nine minutes into the second half, as The Shrimpers remain rooted to the bottom of the league, still without a win away from home this season.
Queens Park Rangers slumped to a 1-0 defeat to Norwich City at Carrow Road. Dion Dublin's 69th minute strike moved The Canaries up to 15th, as QPR's problems continue.
In Saturday's early kick-off, in-form Sheffield Wednesday closed in on the play-off places with a 3-0 win at Barnsley in the South Yorkshire derby. Striker Wayne Andrews (pictured), on loan from Coventry City, scored The Owls' first on 11 minutes, to justify the faith Brian Laws has shown in him.
On-fire winger Chris Brunt then added his eighth league strike of the season on the hour mark and Steven MacLean scored eight minutes later to hammer the nail in The Tykes' coffin. The result sees the lowly Oakwell outfit remain fourth from bottom, teetering dangerously over the relegation zone.
Click below for match summaries:
Barnsley 0-3 Sheff Wed
Cardiff City 0-0 C.Palace
Colchester 2-1 Wolves
Coventry 1-1 Southend
Derby 1-0 Plymouth
Hull City 2-0 Burnley
Norwich 1-0 QPR
Southampton L-L Leicester
Stoke City 3-1 Leeds Utd
Sunderland 0-1 Preston NE
West Brom 2-0 Ipswich