Championship wrap: Tough work at the top

Top six clubs Swansea City, Leeds United and Nottingham Forest all dropped points in the Championship on Saturday.

Derby County secured their first win at Pride Park since November as they overcame Swansea 2-1 with a helping hand from City defender Ashley Williams.

Williams had an early chance to put the Welsh club ahead, but his header went high over the crossbar.

To compound his miss, Williams committed the ultimate football sin when he misdirected his back pass to goalkeeper Dorus de Vries in the seventh minute. Despite the Dutch shot-stopper’s best efforts, the ball rolled over the line for the bizarre opening own-goal.

Derby doubled their advantage when Steve Davies headed home a Conor Doyle corner in the 54th minute.

Darren Pratley pulled a goal back for Swansea 12 minutes later but they could not find an equaliser, much to the relief of the home faithful.

The win moved the Rams six points clear of the drop zone, while Swansea maintained second spot on the table. Wins to Cardiff City (playing Sunday) or Norwich City (playing Monday), however, would see them shuffled out of the automatic promotion places.

Leeds were held to a 0-0 stalemate by Ipswich Town at Elland Road, with Simon Grayson’s men missing an ideal chance to go level on points with Swansea.

Nottingham Forest were also held to a 0-0 draw at their City Ground home by Doncaster, in what was Rovers’ second scoreless league affair this campaign.

League-leaders Queens Park Rangers extended their buffer at the top of the table to seven points with a 2-1 triumph over 10-man Crystal Palace.

Heidar Helguson put the hosts at Loftus Road ahead in the 20th minute, but the relegation-threatened Palace equalised through James Vaughan five minutes out from half-time.

However a red card to Patrick McCarthy and a consequent penalty conversion from Helguson in the 54th minute gave QPR a valuable victory in the race for the title.

Millwall crushed Burnley 3-0 at Turf Moor, with Paul Robinson scoring a brace, while Hull City beat Coventry City 1-0 away to move into eighth place on the table.

Leicester City trumped Scunthorpe 3-0 at Glanford Park courtesy of a Miguel Vitor double, Portsmouth and Middlesbrough played out a 0-0 draw and Watford thrashed nine-man Sheffield United 3-0.