With his side just one win from reaching the Premier League, Wolverhampton manager Mick McCarthy is refusing to get carried away by talk of promotion.
McCarthy’s team are three points away from a place among English soccer’s elite after Andy Keogh’s late goal clinched a 3-2 win at Derby on Monday.
Wolves are seven points clear of third-placed Sheffield United with just three games remaining, and a win against QPR on Saturday would guarantee promotion from the Championship.
But McCarthy doesn’t want his players distracted by the carnival atmosphere that is certain to surround Molineux next weekend.
“That’s dangerous. They will all be wanting the carnival stuff and the fanfare and turning up and giving it large and the big yahoo, but it’s business as usual as far as I am concerned,” the former Republic of Ireland manager said.
“We were hopeless. We were awful. We were rubbish. We couldn’t play any worse and we won the game. We were bobbins, except for Keogh and Jarvo [Matt Jarvis] and the front lads,” he said. “But we kept going and winning games is not always about playing free-flowing football. There are lots of ways to win games and sometimes you have to do it ugly, and that’s what we have done.”
Birmingham’s hopes of going up with Wolves are in the balance after Alex McLeish’s 10 men held on for a 1-1 home draw against Plymouth.
The second-placed Blues are only one point ahead of Sheffield United, while Cardiff are only four points behind with a game in hand.
Sheffield United’s promotion charge was halted by Nottingham Forest, who secured a 0-0 draw at Bramall Lane despite the first-half dismissal of Kelvin Wilson.
Cardiff boosted their late promotion bid with a 3-1 win over play-off rivals Burnley at Ninian Park.
At the bottom of the table, Southampton claimed a crucial 1-0 win over Crystal Palace, Norwich climbed out of the relegation zone with a 2-0 victory against Watford and Barnsley are still in danger of going down after a 3-1 home defeat to Swansea.
Elsewhere, Charlton shared a goalless draw with Coventry, Reading drew 2-2 at Blackpool, Ipswich drew 1-1 at Bristol City, Preston beat Doncaster 2-0 and QPR came from two goals down to defeat Sheffield Wednesday 3-2.
Luton Town’s 89-year stay in the Football League came to an end on Monday when they were relegated from League Two (fourth division).
A 0-0 draw with Chesterfield condemned Luton to the drop, although they have been fighting a losing battle all season after starting with a 30-point penalty for financial infringements.
Without the deduction Luton, a top-flight team in the 1980s and the 1988 League Cup winners when they beat Arsenal at Wembley, would have been safe in mid-table.
“It was always going to be difficult in terms of where we were with penalty points,” manager Mick Harford told the club’s Web site, lutontown.co.uk.
“We’ve never been in this position before, but hopefully we’ll bounce straight back,” former Luton striker Harford said.
Luton will now play in the Conference National, a mixture of fulltime and semi-professional clubs.