Sky Blues soar - Pompey held - Foxes lose
By Alex Livie. Last Updated: January 1, 1970 1:00am
COVENTRY CITY strengthened their claims for a play-off place with a comprehensive 2-0 win over Reading, while leaders Portsmouth had to settle for a point from their home game with Crystal Palace and second placed Leicester lost 2-1 to Ipswich.
The Royals started Boxing Day in sixth place, but they were never given a hope of registering some post-Christmas cheer by Gary McAllister`s in-form Sky Blues.
Craig Hignett did his hopes of a permanent move to Highfield Road no harm with the opener on 39 minutes.
Alan Pardew`s men attempted to regroup after the interval but they were undone by a simply stunning second goal.
Ritchie Partridge (pictured), also on loan at Highfield Road, scampered 80 yards with the ball before beating three men and executing a perfect curling shot that gave Marcus Hahnemann no chance in the Reading goal.
The two teams are now level on 39 points, but McAllister`s men will be the ones carrying greater confidence into the New Year period.
Paul Merson (pictured) scored a fine goal for Portsmouth, but Harry Redknapp`s league leaders had to settle for a point from their home clash with Crystal Palace.
Merson started and finished the move that led to his own goal on 27 minutes, but Palace struck back moments later with Julian Gray drilling home a cross at the far post.
Both sides had chances to snatch victory, but ultimately had to settle for a share of the spoils.
Ipswich pulled off an unlikely 2-1 win at Leicester.
The Foxes dominated for long periods and appeared to be cruising to victory when Paul Dickov scored from the spot.
However, Ipswich rallied and scored with both their efforts on target to stun The Foxes.
Leicester were awarded a dubious penalty for an apparent push on Matthew Heath, much to the Ipswich players` ire.
Dickov kept his cool after the protests died down to slot low into the left-hand corner.
Leicester had chances to put the game to bed, but were thwarted and were made to pay when Thomas Gaardsoe scored a superb, acrobatic, header from a free-kick with six minutes remaining.
Ipswich were not done and Darren Ambrose was the recipient of a lucky ricochet to slam home and take all the points back to East Anglia.
Wolves` promotion hopes have hit the buffers in recent weeks, and they fell to another defeat at Burnley.
Stan Ternent`s side have themselves slipped of late, but proved too good for Wolves.
Gareth Taylor opened the scoring on 24 minutes, clinically heading home from a Robbie Blake cross.
Dean West`s deflected shot doubled the advantage on 32 minutes, and they claimed the points despite Paul Butler scoring for Wolves five minutes from time.
Sheffield United overcame the dismissal of defender Jon Harley to run out 1-0 winners at Walsall, thanks to Michael Brown`s goal, a victory that cements their place in the play-offs.
Goals by Gerald Sibon and on-loan Allan Johnston secured a vital 2-0 win for Sheffield Wednesday over Nottingham Forest, but they remain rooted to the bottom of the table as fellow strugglers Brighton grabbed a surprise 1-0 win at high-flying Norwich - thanks to a Steve Sidwell effort on 38 minutes.
Stoke were the big losers on Boxing Day, as Grimsby made sure four of the bottom five teams recorded wins.
John Oster`s brace helped ensure The Mariners recorded a 3-1 win at Derby - with Lee Morris`s fine goal unable to inspire The Rams as David Soames scored a late third for the East Coast side.
Watford are chasing a play-off place, but they had to settle for a point from their trip to Wimbledon.
Millwall are still in the wrong end of the table, and did their hopes of climbing the ladder little good as they were held to a 2-2 home draw by Gillingham.
The Lions were on the back foot from the moment Mark Saunders put Andy Hessenthaler`s men in charge on eight minutes.
The home side rallied and gave the New Den crowd something to cheer about when Robbie Ryan equalised shortly before the break.
The sense of joy increased when Neil Harris fired the home side in front shortly before the hour, but the gloom descended again two minutes later when Rod Wallace was sent tumbling in the box and Marlon King levelled the scores from the spot.
Bradford breathed life into their relegation fight with a gritty 4-2 win over Stoke.
The Bantams were twice behind, Petur Marteinsson put Stoke in front before Andy Gray equalised from the spot on 20 minutes only for Karl Henry to slot home for Stoke minutes later.
Bradford came out with renewed purpose after the break and a Peter Handyside own goal hauled Nicky Law`s side level.
Claus Jorgensen put Bradford in front and the comeback was completed in the last minute when Gray grabbed his second.
Rotherham bounced back from defeat at the weekend to record a fine 2-0 win at Preston.
Second-half goals by Mark Robins and Richie Barker gave The Millers an excellent win at Deepdale.
To view a match summary, click on a link below.
Bradford 4-2 Stoke
Burnley 2-1 Wolverhampton
Coventry 2-0 Reading
Derby 1-3 Grimsby
Leicester 1-2 Ipswich
Millwall 2-2 Gillingham
Norwich 0-1 Brighton
Portsmouth 1-1 Crystal Palace
Preston 0-2 Rotherham
Sheff Wed 2-0 Nottm Forest
Walsall 0-1 Sheff Utd
Wimbledon 0-0 Watford
Click here for an updated Division One table.