Royals march on as Blades’ title hopes blunted

READING extended their lead at the top of the Coca-Cola Championship to nine points, beating Wolves 2-0 in the Black Country while Sheffield United were defeated by Norwich.

Prolific striker Dave Kitson gave the Royals the lead at Molineux, heading Glen Little’s cross home, and

American winger Bobby Convey saw off Wolves’ challenge shortly after the hour.

Neil Warnock’s Blades had enjoyed a 1-0 lead at Bramall Lane until Paul McVeigh equalised before half-time. And the Canaries came out with their heads up for the second half as goals by Dean Ashton and United defender Chris Morgan gave them a shock 3-1 St Stephen’s Day win.

Watford romped to a 3-0 win at Vicarage Road to close the gap between themselves in third and Sheffield United.

The Hornets enjoyed an easy afternoon against Southampton in what was George Burley’s first match in charge. Darius Henderson, Clarke Carlisle and a Tomasz Hajto own goal gave them the win.

Robbie Blake scored a second-half winner to help Leeds to a 3-1 win over Coventry. Jonathon Douglas gave Leeds the lead and after Don Hutchison levelled, Blake found a winner, with Richard Cresswell adding a third.

Ade Akinbiyi scored against former club Stoke to give Burnley a 1-0 win over their promotion-chasing visitors.

Ahmet Brkovic earned Luton a late point against Derby as they drew 1-1 at Pride Park. Spanish talisman Inigo Idiakez gave the Rams a 72nd-minute lead as Phil Brown’s side looked to have done enough but the prolific Brkovic volleyed home Dean Morgan’s centre to equalise.

There was a penalty, an own goal and two red cards as Leicester and Millwall drew 1-1 at the Walkers Stadium. Patrick McCarthy’s own goal gave the Lions a half-time lead but when Zak Whitbread fouled Elvis Hammond, Joey Gudjonsson scored the spot-kick. Danny Tiatto had been sent off for Leicester after a second caution and Millwall’s Paul Robinson followed him after 69 minutes for a professional foul.

A topsy-turvy clash between Crewe and Hull ended all square as the struggling sides drew 2-2. Eddie Johnson put Crewe in front in the 19th minute only for Craig Fagan to equalise for the Tigers. Crewe regained the lead through Gary Roberts before half-time but Billy Paynter salvaged a draw with 11 minutes left.

Ten-man Cardiff suffered a Christmas hangover at Ninian Park as they were deservedly beaten by Plymouth. Skipper Paul Wotton led by example for Argyle, opening the scoring after 69 minutes from the penalty spot after he was bundled over in the box.

Darren Purse was sent off for his crude challenge which resulted in the penalty and things went from bad to worse for the hosts with time running out when a David Norris strike set the seal on the win.

Brighton gave their fans the perfect late Christmas present with their first back-to-back wins of the season thanks to Guy Butters’ early goal at the Withdean Stadium which secured a 1-0 victory.

Sheffield Wednesday fought hard to claim a 0-0 draw against Preston at Deepdale.

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