Championship round-up

Leaders draw as Stoke win, while Owls move out of bottom three

Bristol City maintained their position at the head of the Championship after drawing with Watford, while Stoke City closed to within a point of the leaders.

Third-placed Watford missed a penalty at Ashton Gate as a rare Mamady Sidibe goal earned Stoke three points at Norwich City.

Sheffield Wednesday hauled themselves out of the relegation zone after coming from behind to beat bottom club Colchester United.

Leicester City have now slipped into the bottom three places after a narrow defeat at fellow strugglers Southampton.

FA Cup giant-killers Barnsley recorded an important win at home, while Scunthorpe United and Preston North End also picked up three points at home.

Burnley boosted their play-off aspirations by beating Charlton Athletic, Queens Park Rangers are up into the top half of the table and Sheffield United posted back-to-back wins.

Barnsley 4 Ipswich 1

There was no FA Cup hangover at Oakwell as Barnsley ended a run of five Championship games without a win in emphatic fashion. Town took the lead on 20 minutes through Pablo Counago's first goal of 2008 as he pounced on the loose ball after Barnsley keeper Luke Steele had parried Alan Quinn's attempt. But Barnsley were level just seven minutes later when Bobby Hassell played the ball through for captain Brian Howard to score his 12th goal of the season from a narrow angle. The Tykes nosed ahead five minutes into the second half when Jon Macken headed home Jamal Campbell-Ryce's corner from close range. Barnsley made the game safe on 83 minutes when Howard scored from the penalty spot after Campbell-Ryce's run into the box had been halted by Alex Bruce. With four minutes to go, the Tykes claimed a fourth goal when Howard's corner found its way into the net via a combination of a swirling wind and Ipswich defender David Wright.

Bristol City 0 Watford 0

Bristol City held on to top spot in the table after an evenly-fought encounter against promotion rivals Watford at Ashton Gate. The Robins enjoyed the better of the first half, with Marvin Elliott twice forcing fine saves out of Richard Lee, but Watford could have gone in ahead at half-time. On 42 minutes, Hornets striker Darius Henderson saw his penalty saved by the in-form Adriano Basso after Tommy Smith had been felled by Martin McIndoe.

Burnley 1 Charlton 0

Burnley are yet to lose at Turf Moor in the league in 2008 after Wade Elliott's first goal of the season lifted the Clarets to within a point of the play-off zone. The deadlock was broken in stunning style on 59 minutes when Elliott collected a pass from Robbie Blake and unleashed a thunderbolt with his left foot which rocketed into the top corner.

Colchester 1 Sheff Wed 2

Colchester remain rooted to the bottom of the table as Sheffield Wednesday climbed out of the relegation zone with a hard-fought win at Layer Road. Colchester grabbed a fourth-minute lead when Kevin Lisbie scored for the third game in a row as he converted captain Karl Duguid's ball across the face of goal. The Owls were level on 18 minutes when Deon Burton, who notched the winner against QPR at the weekend, headed home Graham Kavanagh's free-kick. The visitors snatched the winner a minute before half-time when Marcus Tudgay sent Wade Small bursting clear of the home defence to score his first goal since September.

Norwich 0 Stoke 1

Stoke enhanced their claims of automatic promotion to the Premier League with a battling win at Carrow Road. The Potters enjoyed the better of the first half and almost took the lead when Carl Dickinson's cross-cum-shot bounced back off the crossbar. The promotion hopefuls went ahead on 58 minutes when Rory Delap launched a long throw into the box and Mamady Sidibe flicked it home for just the Mali striker's second goal of the campaign. Norwich should have pinched a point in the latter stages, but Jamie Cureton contrived to turn his chance wide from close range.

Preston 2 Wolverhampton 1

Preston boosted their hopes of survival by coming from behind to dent Wolves' play-off aspirations with victory at Deepdale. Sean St Ledger came close to scoring for Preston in the first half before a half-time substitution made an immediate impact for Wolves. Andy Keogh was brought on by Mick McCarthy and the striker wriggled away from defenders before hitting a low shot which into the corner of the net. But Preston were level come the hour mark when Callum Davidson thumped home a penalty after Chris Brown had been brought down in the box. The hosts grabbed the winner nine minutes from time when Simon Whaley turned to find space in the box before dispatching his shot with aplomb.

QPR 3 Blackpool 2

Queens Park Rangers withstood a late fightback from Blackpool to rise up to 12th in the table. With the King of Ghana and Real Madrid president Ramon Calderon in the Loftus Road crowd, QPR took the lead after just 11 minutes when Rowan Vine got down the left flank and whipped in a cross for Akos Buzsaky to head home. Vine, who had failed to score in his previous nine appearances, added his side's second goal on 40 minutes when he skipped past two challenges and drove his shot into the far corner. Vine was also involved in the third goal two minutes after half-time as he combined with Patrick Agyemang to set up skipper Martin Rowlands to stab home from close range. Blackpool pulled a goal back on the hour mark when substitute Ben Burgess found space in the box and arrowed a shot into the back of the net. The visitors' comeback continued when Stephen McPhee helped Kaspars Gorkss' header on its way into the net, but QPR hung on for the three points.

Scunthorpe 1 Plymouth 0

Scunthorpe United picked up a priceless win in their battle to avoid relegation courtesy of Ian Morris' second goal of the season. Plymouth had a goal disallowed in the first half, but fell behind 10 minutes into the second period in unfortunate circumstances. Morris played the ball in to Geoff Horsfield and then collected the veteran striker's back-heel before seeing his shot take a wicked deflection and loop over Luke McCormick. The Plymouth keeper was then sent off on 71 minutes after being deemed to have picked the ball up outside his box, prompting midfielder Lee Hodges to go in goal, with the visitors having no reserve shot-stopper on the bench.

Sheff Utd 2 Coventry 1

Sheffield United hung on to secure Kevin Blackwell's first home win as manager as Coventry are made to wait for a first away league success in 2008. The Blades were denied the opener in the first half when David Carney's shot deflected in off Sharp, but the striker was adjudged to be offside. Sharp made amends on 69 minutes when he rose to meet Derek Geary's cross to score his first goal in 20 Championship appearances since returning to Bramall Lane. The home side claimed the decisive goal on 78 minutes when Gary Speed tucked away the rebound after his initial penalty, following a foul on Sharp, had been saved. Coventry set up a frantic finish by replying through Elliott Ward's penalty on 81 minutes after Michael Mifsud had been bundled over in the box by Chris Morgan.

Southampton 1 Leicester 0

Southampton ended a run of 10 league games without a win with a vital three points at home to relegation rivals Leicester. In a tense first half on the South Coast, Leicester striker Steve Howard wasted the best chance when he missed from close range. Saints made the breakthrough on 76 minutes when Foxes defender Gareth McAuley failed to clear and Stern John cushioned his volley into the back of the net.