By Ronan Murphy
Ireland international Joey O'Brien scored West Ham United's second goal in their 2-1 win over Norwich City, running into the box to meet Mark Noble's cutback for his second goal of the season.
Ian Harte and Alex Pearce started in Reading's back four at White Harte Lane against Tottenham Hotspur. The hosts went on to win 3-1, but the Royals took the lead early on when a superb free-kick from Harte came back off the crossbar for Pavel Pogrebnyak to head home.
Enda Stevens returned to the Aston Villa starting eleven for the first time since November, coming back from an ankle injury to help Villa to a 2-2 draw against Swansea. The result was the first point for Paul Lambert's side since beating Liverpool on December 17th. Villa's defence had leaked 15 goals in the last three games, but should be buoyed by Stevens' return.
Cardiff City extended their lead at the top of the Championship to seven points after a Joe Mason goal gave them a 1-0 victory over Birmingham City. The Ireland under-21 striker scored his fifth league goal of the season by capitalising on a poor save from Blues keeper Jack Butland.
Jeff Hendrick and Conor Sammon were both on target as Derby County defeated Middlesbough 3-1. Hendrick's shot was a powerful strike from 20 yards while Sammon had a simple tap in to seal victory for the Rams.
Six-time Ireland international midfielder Keith Treacy came off the bench to help Burnley to a 2-0 win over Sheffield Wednesday. Treacy struck a 25-yard strike before winning the penalty for the Clarets' second.
Ireland under-21 striker James Collins found the net four times for Swindon Town, guiding them to a 5-0 win over Portsmouth after being introduced in the 60th minute. Collins had a hat-trick just 13 minutes after coming on, and headed in a fourth with seven minutes remaining. David Connolly also came off the bench to make his first appearance for Portsmouth.
Cliff Byrne was on target against his old club as Oldham Athletic fought back from a two-goal deficit to draw 2-2 with Scunthorpe United. Fellow Irish defender Niall Canavan opened the scoring for the Iron after Oldham failed to clear a corner.
Billy Clarke and Mark Connolly helped Crawley Town return to winning ways with a 3-1 win over Colchester United. Clarke scored his ninth goal of the season while Connolly opened the scoring from close range.
Yeovil Town moved to within three points of the playoffs thanks to two goals from Paddy Madden in a 3-0 victory against Leyton Orient, while Darren Potter opened the scoring in MK Dons' 2-1 win over Notts County.
Bristol Rovers closed the gap on Plymouth Argyle at the bottom end of the League Two table with a 2-1 win. After going 2-0 down, Conor Hourihane pulled a goal back for Plymouth and could have easily equailsed minutes later. There is now just three points between the bottom five in the division.
Exeter City moved up to 9th with a 1-0 win over Wycombe Wanderers. The visitors snatched the three points in the last few minutes when John O'Flynn's shot was deflected off Kortney Hause into the goal.
|IRISH XI OF THE DAY
Goalkeeper: Paddy Kenny (Leeds)
Defenders: Joey O'Brien (West Ham), Niall Canavan (Scunthorpe), Mark Connolly (Crawley), Cliff Byrne (Oldham)
Midfielders: Keith Treacy (Burnley), Darren Potter (MK Dons), Jeff Hendrick (Derby)
Forwards: James Collins (Swindon), Joe Mason (Cardiff), Paddy Madden (Yeovil)