How the Irish fared: Anthony Pilkington makes a striking case

Anthony Pilkington’s transition from winger to striker continued to gather momentum at the weekend as his brace helped play-off hopefuls Cardiff to a 2-1 Championship win over Preston.

Both of Pilkington’s goals came from the penalty spot but he was a constant menace to the Preston defence and a tally of five goals in six games since his positional change might just be giving Ireland manager Martin O’Neill pause for thought ahead of Euro 2016. His club manager, Russell Slade, certainly believes Pilkington can have a future upfront. “People said Anthony was a makeshift striker but I really believe he could have a career up front,” he said.

“He’s quick, he’s clever, and he can finish. He is loving scoring the goals and having the responsibility of playing up top. We are so pleased with his contribution and he is a bit unfortunate not to have scored a few more this season.

“He’s doing a terrific job for us and could easily hit double-figures this season.”

Mick McCarthy’s Ipswich also remain in the hunt for a play-off spot after a 1-0 win at Huddersfield. Ipswich had lost five of their last six games but victory on Saturday brought them to within four points of the play-offs.

“This was a huge result for us,” McCarthy said. “We needed a win and, as usual, my lads have come up trumps when we needed them.”

Elsewhere, Alan Judge netted his 14th goal of a fine season but his effort — a follow-up effort after his penalty had initially been saved — wasn’t enough as Brentford lost 2-1 at Rotherham. Samir Carruthers also netted in a losing cause as the MK Dons were beaten 3-2 at Blackburn.

In League One, a goal from Emmanuel Osadebe wasn’t enough to stop promotion-chasing Gillingham from losing 2-1 to Chesterfield.

Saturday was a happier day for Graham Carey in League Two as his ninth goal of the season gave Plymouth a 1-0 win over Notts County.

One player who won’t be scoring for a while is Adam Rooney after the striker, whose tally of 19 goals this season has inspired Aberdeen’s unlikely challenge for the Scottish Premiership.

Dons boss Derek McInnes said: “Adam Rooney has torn his thigh so he will probably be out for around six weeks.”

The news is a significant blow to Aberdeen’s title dreams and a potentially fatal one to Rooney’s hopes of making the squad for the Euros.

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