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 Posted by ESPN Staff
Dec, 26, 2006

Championship: St. Andrews centenary celebration

Birmingham celebrated 100 years at St Andrews in the best possible fashion as they opened up an eight-point gap at the top of the Coca-Cola Championship with victory over QPR.

A inspired substitution by Blues boss Steve Bruce proved the difference, Cameron Jerome netting a 62nd-minute winner three minutes after his introduction.

It was a century ago to the day that Birmingham had first played at their ground and Matthew Upson got the champagne corks popping by giving them the lead midway through the first half.

But struggling Rangers threatened to spoil the party when Lee Cook drilled in from 25 yards shortly after the half-hour.

Blues can now stretch their lead to double figures if they beat Luton on Friday.

Second-placed Preston and third-placed Derby were unable to keep pace, going down at West Brom and to Wolves, respectively.

Ten-man North End managed to claw their way back from two goals down at The Hawthorns, Graham Alexander's penalty and David Nugent cancelling out brilliant strikes from Jason Koumas and Diomansy Kamara.

Danny Dichio had seen red for an elbow when the score was still 2-1 and the Baggies eventually made the extra man count as substitute Nathan Ellington netted twice in the last 15 minutes to seal a 4-2 success.

Derby were beaten 2-0 by Wolves at Pride Park, Seyi George Olofinjana and Michael Kightly with the second-half goals.

It got even better for Birmingham as the rest of the top six all failed to win, with fourth-placed Stoke dropping to eighth following a 2-1 home defeat to resurgent Sheffield Wednesday.

Deon Burton came off the bench to score the winner after Stoke striker Mamady Sidibe had cancelled out Steve MacLean's opener.

Southampton moved up to fourth place despite being held to a 1-1 draw in the early kick-off against Crystal Palace.

Saints saw Kenwyne Jones dismissed for violent conduct shortly before the 30-minute mark but took the lead when Chris Baird headed in Jermaine Wright's corner two minutes after half-time.

However, Baird went from hero to villain seven minutes later when he was robbed by Jobi McAnuff, who levelled.

Cardiff also climbed a place despite yet again failing to win.

They drew 2-2 with Plymouth at Ninian Park, with Steven Thomson and David Norris both scoring twice.

Colchester made it 10 straight home wins by thrashing Luton 4-1, Kevin McLeod's header, Chris Iwelumo (two) and Richard Garcia scoring before Rowan Vine bagged a consolation for the Hatters from the spot.

The bottom three were cut even further adrift asarnsley beat Burnley 1-0, Martin Devaney with the winner.

Leeds and Hull both lost, the former 2-0 at Sunderland following goals from David Connolly and Grant Leadbitter.

City were beaten 2-1 at home by Leicester, Patrick Kisnorbo and Gareth Williams cancelling out Craig Fagan's opener before the hosts saw Danny Coles dismissed.

Rock-bottom Southend survived the sending-off of Efe Sodje to record a goalless draw at Norwich.

Elsewhere, Jon Macken and Alan Lee gave Ipswich at 2-1 win at Coventry, for whom Michael Doyle scored a stoppage-time consolation.

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