Rams surge clear after fiery win

Steve Howard’s 12th goal of the season fired Derby six points clear at the top of the Coca-Cola Championship in a match which ended with both managers and a player being sent off.

Steve Howard’s 12th goal of the season fired Derby six points clear at the top of the Coca-Cola Championship in a match which ended with both managers and a player being sent off.

Howard found the back of the net inside the opening five minutes against Burnley to consign Steve Cotterill’s men to their 10th game without a win in all competitions.

Home manager Billy Davies was sent to the stands early in the second half for arguing with a decision of referee Mike Riley, who was targeted by both sides of a packed Pride Park, especially after sending off Eric Djemba-Djemba and then Cotterill in the dying minutes.

It was the Rams’ fifth straight league win.

Second-placed Birmingham suffered a shock 3-1 home defeat to Southend, who climbed off the foot of the table.

The Shrimpers recovered from conceding an early own goal by Peter Clarke, thanks to efforts from Kevin Maher, Freddy Eastwood – his 13th of the campaign - and Mark Gower.

Leeds replace Southend at the foot of the table on goal difference despite a 2-1 victory in their Yorkshire derby at Hull.

Alan Thompson netted the winner with a trademark free-kick after Nicky Forster had cancelled out Matt Heath’s opener.

Barnsley hauled themselves out of the bottom three with a 2-0 home win over QPR, who replace them in the drop zone.

Marc Richards broke his 15-game goal drought before Brian Howard wrapped up the points in stoppage-time.

Luton slipped nearer danger after Leon McKenzie’s goal was enough to see them off at Coventry.

Stoke passed up the chance to move back into the Championship play-off places with a goalless draw with Ipswich at the Britannia Stadium.

Colchester took advantage to cut the deficit to the top six with a 1-0 victory over title-chasing Preston, Garry Richards heading home the winner.

Wolves survived the dismissals of Gary Breen and Jackie McNamara to steal a 1-0 win at Norwich, Michael Kightly scoring the only goal of the game while the visitors still had 11 men on the field.

Sunderland’s play-off hopes took a took a knock with a goalless draw at home to Crystal Palace.

In League Two, leaders Walsall moved three points clear at the summit with a 2-0 win at Macclesfield, Dean Keates scoring in the second and 90th minutes, the first a penalty.

Swindon lost ground after playing out a 1-1 draw at Peterborough, manager’s son Blair Sturrock equalising two minutes from time after Peter Gain had put Posh ahead.

Martin Gritton plundered a hat-trick as Mansfield thrashed rock-bottom Torquay 5-0, Michael Boulding and Alex Baptiste scored the other goals.

Liam Dickinson netted a stoppage-time winner as Stockport won 1-0 at Wrexham to move up to sixth.

Hereford came from 2-0 down to draw at Bury, a Nicky Adams own goal and Andrew Williams cancelling out efforts from Richie Baker and Glynn Hurst.

The spoils were also shared between Notts County and Barnet, Nick Bailey equalising after Lawrie Dudfield gave County the lead from the spot.

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