Hammers take pounding at Ipswich
West Ham United kissed goodbye to their 100 per cent league record in 2012 as they were crushed 5-1 at Ipswich Town, although second-placed Southampton failed to usurp the Championship leaders after being held to a 1-1 draw by title-chasing Cardiff, while Nikola Zigic bagged himself four goals as Birmingham continued their purple patch with a resounding 4-1 victory at Leeds to move up to fourth in the table.
Ipswich made a mockery of their lowly position as they put leaders West Ham to the sword 5-1 at Portman Road. The league's tightest defence met its weakest but it was Town who celebrated their first win in eight matches in all competitions to boost their battle for survival. The home side led inside three minutes through Michael Chopra before Carlton Cole hit a post for the visitors moments later.
A crazy end to the first half saw three goals in the final two minutes plus stoppage time, with Daryl Murphy doubling Town's advantage with a header but Jack Collison halving the deficit within seconds. Ipswich were then awarded a penalty which Lee Martin converted, and Jay Emmanuel-Thomas added a brace after the break as the Hammers saw their three-game winning run in the league come to an end.
But they stay top after Southampton missed out on the chance to leapfrog them as they came from behind to claim a draw at home to third-placed Cardiff City. Craig Conway opened the scoring when he made the most of a poor punch from goalkeeper Kelvin Davis to fire home, but Rickie Lambert, Southampton's main threat throughout, scored from the spot after Kevin McNaughton was harshly deemed to have handled an Adam Lallana cross. The point moved Saints two points behind the Hammers, while Cardiff are now three points behind Sam Allardyce's side.
Birmingham City cranked up the pressure on their promotion rivals with a thumping 4-1 victory at Leeds United - their sixth straight win. Zigic cancelled out Leeds striker Ross McCormack's 19th-minute opener with a first-half header and struck three times in seven minutes in the second period as Chris Hughton's rampant Blues ran riot.
Leeds fans, who saw their side beaten 5-1 at Elland Road by Blackpool in November, turned on chairman Ken Bates soon after Zigic headed home his fourth in the 68th minute. He was forced off after landing awkwardly, but the damage was done as Birmingham extended their unbeaten run to 10 matches.
Jay Rodriguez scored twice to heap further misery on his former manager Steve Cotterill as Burnley triumphed 2-0 at Nottingham Forest on a freezing night at the City Ground. The Clarets striker, who was handed professional terms at Turf Moor under the now Forest boss, condemned the East Midlands side to a sixth consecutive league defeat with a headed goal in each half. Rodriguez only denied himself a hat-trick by misfiring from the penalty spot when Ben Mee fouled Garath McCleary 10 minutes after the interval. Forest have now failed to score on their own turf since victory over Ipswich on November 19, and enter February second-bottom of the table.
Barnsley proved there is life after Ricardo Vaz Te as they consigned Derby County to a 3-2 defeat - their first loss in seven Championship games. The Tykes put the impending departure of leading scorer Vaz Te to West Ham behind them and produced a first-half display which swept previously in-form Derby aside. Matt Done opened the scoring after a fine move, then an Andy Gray penalty and Scott Wiseman's first goal for the Yorkshire club stunned the Rams. Nigel Clough's side were a different side in the second half and dominated possession but although Jamie Ward pulled a goal back with a fine free-kick and Tom Carroll scored a late debut goal, the damage had already been done.
Goals from Kevin Phillips and Gary Taylor-Fletcher completed a stunning late turnaround as Blackpool kept their promotion push on track with a 2-1 win against Coventry City at Bloomfield Road. Veteran frontman Phillips came off the bench to secure an FA Cup fourth-round replay for the Seasiders with his injury-time penalty against Sheffield Wednesday on Saturday and his services were required once again after a first career goal from 18-year-old midfielder Conor Thomas put the visitors in front. Fellow substitute Roman Bednar - who enjoyed such a fruitful alliance with Phillips during their time together at West Brom - marked his Blackpool debut with the cross that left the 38-year-old with a simple 87th-minute finish.
Watford ended a run of three successive league defeats to claim all three points with a 2-0 win at Millwall. Troy Deeney fired them ahead in the first half, producing a neat finish from the edge of the area, before Joe Garner added a second with the simplest of finishes.
Hull City missed their opportunity to close the gap on the top two after being held to a 0-0 draw by struggling Doncaster Rovers at the KC Stadium, while Ashley Barnes scored from the penalty spot as Brighton & Hove Albion nicked a point from their derby rivals Crystal Palace in a 1-1 draw. Barnes tucked away his ninth goal of the season to cancel out Chris Martin's opener, which also came from the spot after controversial referee Stuart Attwell took centre stage.