Preston North End's long-anticipated relegation to League One was confirmed yesterday with their 1-0 defeat against Cardiff at Deepdale. Peter Whittingham's early goal secured victory for City and combined with Crystal Palace's 1-0 win against Leeds, condemned Phil Brown's team to life in the third tier for the first time since 2000.
Relegation is a startling fall for a club who have reached the Championship playoff final twice in the past decade but having lost 22 of 43 league games prior to kick-off, survival always seemed an unlikely outcome. They were dominated by Cardiff, who would have moved into second place had Norwich not won 3-2 with a late goal against Derby.
Sitting one place below Cardiff in fourth are Swansea, who guaranteed a playoff place with a 4-1 win over Ipswich. At the bottom Scunthorpe have dropped to 23rd and look likely to join Preston after a 2-1 loss at home to Millwall, who climbed to seventh place.
Relegated from League One are Swindon, whose 3-1 defeat at Sheffield Wednesday sees them rooted to bottom spot with two fixtures left to play. Darren Potter and Neil Mellor, twice, scored for Wednesday. At the top of the division Southampton strengthened their hopes of an automatic-promotion place alongside the champions Brighton, who drew 1–1 at Colchester, with a 2-0 victory over Hartlepool at St Mary's. They remain second, level on points with third-place Huddersfield, who beat Dagenham & Redbridge 2-1.
Bury secured promotion from League Two with a 3-2 win at Chesterfield, secured through Ryan Lowe's 87th minute goal. The home side would have wrapped up the title had they been victorious themselves. Meanwhile, Stockport are all but relegated to the Blue Square Bet Premier League despite a fighting 2-2 draw with Northampton at Edgeley Park.