Black Cats edge Crewe win
By Tom Adams. Last Updated: 12/03/05 5:45pm
Sunderland maintained their challenge for automatic promotion as Stephen Elliott scored the only goal of the game in a 1-0 defeat of Crewe Alexandra.
With both Wigan and Ipswich winning it was imperative that Mick McCarthy's men followed suit, and in doing so they heightened Crewe's relegation fears.
The prolific Elliott supplied the game's turning point as he coolly converted Julio Arca cross just before the hour, and had the ball in the net again only to be denied by an offside flag.
It was Dario Gradi's team who came out the strongest, and after just four minutes Colin Murdock could have opened the scoring with a header but saw his effort cleared by Carl Robinson.
A further chance followed for Mark Rivers before Sunderland grew in confidence and asserted their influence on the game.
Defender George McCartney led the fight-back with a strong 25-yard strike, whilst former Ipswich man Marcus Stewart also missed from distance.
After the half McCarthy introduced Elliott and Arca, and the difference in his side was palpable as they combined for the crucial goal.
Left winger Arca was the supply man as he fed Elliott for a strong finish, and could have extended The Back Cats' advantage with a long range drive soon after.
Crewe could do little to counter the flow of the tide, and Sunderland could have added to their goal tally as Stephen Caldwell failed to convert before Stewart was denied by Ben Williams in the Crewe goal.
With three minutes to go Elliott again netted but was denied by the referee's assistant, whilst Kenny Lunt failed to make anything of a free kick in the dying moments for a Crewe side desperate for a point.
This latest defeat sees them placed just five points above the drop zone after a disastrous run of 11 games without a win.
Sky Bet Championship
Sat 12th Mar
Plymouth5 - 1Brighton
Reading3 - 1West Ham
Leeds1 - 1Gillingham
Crewe0 - 1S'land
QPR3 - 1Watford
Burnley2 - 1Rotherham
Stoke2 - 0Sheff Utd
Preston2 - 2Wolves
Wigan2 - 0Millwall
Coventry1 - 1Cardiff
Ipswich6 - 0N Forest
Sky Bet Championship
|22||Brighton and Hove Albion||21||18|