By Robin Hackett
Last Updated: 01/01/70 1:00am
Derby went two points clear at the top of the table after a 2-1 away victory over Norwich.
Derby County went two points clear at the top of the Championship table after a 2-1 away victory over Norwich.
Both teams started well in an open game, but Norwich had the lion's share of the early chances, with a Youssef Safri free-kick after half an hour causing the away side problems. The in-form Chris Martin was proving a particular thorn in Derby's side, but the sides went in for half-time at 0-0.
In the second half, Arturo Lupoli nearly gave Derby a lead when an impressive run brought a strong save from Tony Warner, but it was the ever-impressive Martin who broke the deadlock on 52 minutes following a throw-in to give Norwich the lead.
However, Derby began to come back into the game, with ex-Manchester United midfielder David Jones going close on a number of occasions.
And he got his reward in the 62nd minute when he curled the ball around Warner into the far corner following a quick throw-in.
There was controversy soon afterwards, though, when Darren Huckerby appeared to have put Martin through to re-establish the home side's lead, but the referee ruled it offside, much to the frustration of Norwich boss Peter Grant.
And Jones (72) was able to hand Derby all three points when he scored his second of the game following a neat flick from Giles Barnes, although the player was booked for his celebrations with the travelling supporters moments later.
Birmingham will now need to win their game in hand to return to the top spot.
Some abysmal defending saw Hull hand Ipswich a 5-2 victory at The KC Stadium.
Hull nearly took the lead in the first minute of their clash with Ipswich when Stuart Elliott missed an early chance from close range, but there were few clear chances in the early stages.
However, a looping Elliott header from 15 yards hit the bar on 22 minutes, allowing Dean Windass to tuck away the follow-up and give relegation threatened Hull an early boost.
But the on-loan Francis Jeffers was able to put Ipswich level just two minutes later from close range on his first start for the club, giving the striker his first goal since April 2005.
And Ipswich took the lead when a Jaime Peters' (41) effort wickedly deflected off Samuel Ricketts to take the ball over the helpless Boaz Myhill in the Hull goal.
Windass had a great chance to restore parity deep into stoppage time in the first half, but put his volley high and wide.
Hull simply fell apart defensively in the second half, however, and Ipswich piled more misery on Phil Brown's men when a long ball left Alan Lee with Ricketts the only defender to beat. Lee won the battle and slipped the ball under the advancing Myhill.
With Hull's defence in chaos, Jason de Vos (62) was able to make it 4-1 after a goalmouth scramble resulted from a free-kick before Danny Haynes added a fifth on 81 minutes.
Windass was able to claim his second from the penalty spot after 82 minutes, but it will have been of scant consolation to the home side.
The mid-table clash between Sheffield Wednesday and Plymouth at Hillsborough ended in a 1-1 stalemate.
Wednesday started the brighter of the two teams as they looked to stretch their winning streak to three games, but it was Plymouth who came closest early on, forcing a fingertip save from keeper Iain Turner.
However, The Owls made the breakthrough when Plymouth keeper Luke McCormick was knocked down in a scramble following a Deon Burton effort and, with no whistle from the referee, Steve MacLean was able to tuck the ball away.
Plymouth adopted a more direct style following the goal, using the aerial threat of Rory Fallon to cause the Wednesday defence all manner of problems.
And in the 56th minute a Fallon flick-on from a throw-in allowed Dan Gosling to volley the ball into the top corner of Iain Turner's goal.
After the goal, though, chances for both sides dried up as the teams looked happy to settle for a point apiece.