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Race tightens up

Championship leaders Birmingham dropped valuable points yesterday after suffering a 1-0 loss at Norwich. A fantastic individual effort from Darren Huckerby gave Norwich the lead in the 47th minute. Huckerby collected the ball in his own half and charged up the flank, he then slipped past two tackles before powering home a strike from about 25 yards out.

Second-place Derby left it very late to salvage a point against QPR. Darren Moore headed in an 87th minute equaliser to deny QPR an away win. QPR have not won away since November when they beat Cardiff 1-0. With the single point Derby are now tied on points with leaders Birmingham.

Third-place Sunderland also picked up a draw as they scrapped hard to come from behind against Stoke. The Black Cats went behind after 22 minutes when keeper Darren Ward flubbed Darel Russell’s weak shot — a complete howler. The hosts didn’t take long to reply, pulling level a minute later through Dean Whitehead’s 25-yard effort. Whitehead was dangerous all game for the Black Cats. Stoke went ahead again just before half-time on Carl Hoefken’s nicely taken half-volley. Stoke were holding on comfortably in the second half until the 90th minute when Daryl Murphy volleyed in from 12 yards. No footage to share with you but I did find some fun video of the crowd’s reaction to the equalizing goal. Enjoy!

Preston bounced back from their loss to Hull to claim a 1-0 victory against Ipswich. With the three points PNE vault over West Brom and Wolverhampton into fourth place. Michael Ricketts scored the winner for Preston with a thumping header from a Danny Pugh cross. That critical goal was his first goal for the club.

Also of note from that match was loan-signing Franck Songo’o making his first start for Preston. The Portsmouth winger, although born in Cameroon, has represented France at the under-19 level. He started his career in the Barcelona academy before Pompey signed him for a fee of £250,000. Songo’o has made three first-team appearances for Pompey and also been on loan at Bournemouth.

In other games from yesterday, Coventry defeated Wolverhampton by a 2-1 score, Leeds tied 1-all with Leicster City, Sheffield Wednesday beat Colchester 2-0, Hull heaped more woe on relegation threatened Luton with a 2-1 defeat and Southhampton and Cardiff fought to a 2-all draw.

On a bit of a side note, I have to say that the official site for the Football League is sub-par. I visited it this morning, a long time after yesterday’s games had completed and there are no results and the league table has not been updated.

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