Derby County recorded their biggest win of the season as a 4-0 triumph over Birmingham City at St Andrew’s saw them climb out of the bottom three for the first time since the end of October.
Three goals in 10 first-half minutes did the damage for Wayne Rooney’s side as they responded strongly to their stoppage-time defeat by Preston on Boxing Day, which had ended a previous six-game unbeaten run.
Birmingham are now four points above Derby and looking over their shoulders, without a win in their last five games. The home goalkeeper Neil Etheridge was the villain in the 15th minute as he gifted the visitors the lead, dropping a corner under no pressure and allowing Krystian Bielik to hook the ball into the net for his first Derby goal.
They doubled their lead two minutes later, the referee pointing to the spot after Harlee Dean challenged Louie Sibley. Graeme Shinnie blasted the penalty past Etheridge.
Rooney’s rampant side then took advantage of some dreadful defending from a corner. Matthew Clarke flicked the ball on at the near post and Colin Kazim-Richards slid in unchallenged at the back post. Jason Knight wrapped up an emphatic win in the 77th minute.
League One: Buxton leaves Brewers after Wigan loss
Burton Albion have parted company with manager Jake Buxton after their 4-3 home defeat to Wigan. The Brewers took the lead three times but Kyle Joseph’s hat-trick and Will Keane’s winner moved Wigan six points above bottom club Burton, who have won just once in their last 19 league games.
Swindon are second-bottom after a 4-1 home defeat to MK Dons, with Cameron Jerome on target twice for the visitors. John Sheridan’s side have taken just one point from seven games. Northampton climbed out of the bottom four with a 3-1 home win over Gillingham.
Shrewsbury and Oxford continued to move clear of trouble in Tuesday’s other games. Daniel Udoh got the winner for Steve Cotterill’s side against Blackpool, while Olamide Shodipo’s penalty proved the winner for Oxford in a five-goal thriller at Plymouth.
“That performance has been coming over the last few weeks,” Rooney said after the game. “I’m delighted for the players and I’m starting to see a team that believe in themselves … you can see the confidence growing.”
“With the energy we have in the team, I felt it was the perfect game to take it to Birmingham,” the interim manager added. “I wanted to see if they could live with our energy and our desire. I felt we could overrun them and that’s what we did.”
Norwich, the leaders, dropped points for the second time in four days after being held to a 1-1 draw by struggling QPR at Carrow Road. After losing 1-0 at Watford, the Canaries slipped up again in a game of two penalties. Teemu Pukki scored his 11th goal of the season from the spot with 15 minutes remaining but Bright Osayi-Samuel equalised nine minutes later.
The Norwich manager, Daniel Farke, was left frustrated by the penalty decision and an offside call against Todd Cantwell early in the second half. “Overall the feeling is one of disappointment because this was a game we deserved to win,” he said. “We dominated possession and created lots of chances and I can’t believe we only have one point.”
“We scored a fantastic team goal. I have seen it again and it was not offside,” Farke added. “Teemu is there with the pass and Todd Cantwell is a yard behind the ball. After four or five appeals we finally got a penalty which Teemu puts away but then they get a penalty which I thought was going to be a goal kick”.
League Two: Forest Green felled by Crawley
Forest Green missed the chance to go top of the table as Tom Nichols’ double earned Crawley a 2-1 win that puts them in the play-off picture. Leaders Newport‘s home game against Exeter was postponed due to bad weather, while Carlisle‘s game at Harrogate was abandoned.
Stevenage climbed off the bottom as Charlie Carter’s early goal saw off Cambridge. Southend replace them after they lost 2-0 at Leyton Orient. Alex Gilliead got the winner for Scunthorpe away at Walsall, while Barrow and Tranmere drew 1-1.
Fourth-placed Cheltenham were held to a 0-0 draw at Colchester and there were stalemates at Bradford v Port Vale and Grimsby v Oldham, where incoming Mariners manager Paul Hurst watched on from the stands.
Sheffield Wednesday’s caretaker manager, Neil Thompson, praised his team after they beat Middlesbrough 2-1 less than 24 hours after Tony Pulis was sacked and thanks to first-half goals from Callum Paterson and Liam Shaw.
Thompson had little time to prepare for his new role but was delighted with the response of Wednesday’s players. He said: “I spoke to the chairman last night and he told me to prepare the team for today. To come away against a good team with a result is really encouraging. We just wanted to be positive and the lads did as we asked. I’ve had a really good reaction from the team and I’m delighted.”
Wycombe picked up a valuable three points as headers from Ryan Tafazolli and David Wheeler gave them a 2-1 win over Cardiff. Tafazolli powered in from a corner after half an hour before Wheeler wrapped up the points in the second half. Cardiff fell to a third straight defeat for the first time under Neil Harris, who was sent to the stands late on before Junior Hoilett’s header.
Daniel Johnson and Sean Maguire were on target as Preston extended their winning league run to three matches with a 2-0 win over Coventry on a freezing night at Deepdale. The on-loan Leicester midfielder Kiernan Dewsbury-Hall scored his first goal for Luton as the Hatters beat Bristol City 2-1 at Kenilworth Road.
Huddersfield made it five home wins in a row as Naby Sarr inspired a dramatic 2-1 victory over Blackburn. Rovers thought they had salvaged a point when Sam Gallagher pounced with four minutes left to cancel out Sarr’s headed opener but the French defender had the final say with a stoppage-time winner
Barnsley condemned Rotherham to their fifth defeat in six matches, with Cauley Woodrow and Alex Mowatt on the scoresheet for the visitors. James Chester scored a second-half own goal for Stoke to cancel out teammate Jordan Thompson’s strike in a 1-1 draw with Nottingham Forest.