Swansea manager Steve Cooper lamented his side’s poor defending after their automatic promotion hopes suffered a setback following a 3-0 defeat at Bournemouth.
Philip Billing’s acrobatic volley coupled with a Joel Latibeaudiere own goal and Arnaut Danjuma’s thumping late finish helped Bournemouth revive their play-off ambitions.
Cooper said: “It has been a very busy period and we might have been a bit fatigued. But I am not going to use that as an excuse. The first two goals were so unlike us and what we pride ourselves on. They were really poor goals to give away.
Swansea’s defeat was punished by Watford, who beat Rotherham 4-1 to take their tally to eight wins in nine games. Goals from Francisco Sierralta, Ismaila Sarr and Ken Sema put the Hornets firmly in the ascendancy before the break.
Watford goalkeeper Daniel Bachmann had to make a penalty save from Michael Smith after the break and Freddie Ladapo reduced the deficit with a stunning strike before Dan Gosling went on to put the outcome behind doubt.
Watford manager Xisco Muñoz said: “We are building something and, while I was happy with this game and it was an amazing performance, we can still perform better.”
Middlesbrough claimed a 2-0 win over Preston to stay in touch with the top six. Boro were in front after 22 minutes when North End defender Jordan Storey sliced Yannick Bolasie’s cross into his own net.
Preston’s Alan Browne was dismissed after appearing to kick out at Middlesbrough midfielder Sam Morsy with nine minutes remaining of the first half, having reacted to an arm hitting him in the face.
Preston manager Alex Neil was furious with the decision and he was issued with a red card of his own at half-time when he entered the play to protest to referee Oliver Langford.
After the restart Marcus Tavernier headed in Middlesbrough’s second to wrap up the points five minutes into the second half. On Browne’s red card, Boro manager Neil Warnock said: “I’ll have to do an Arsène Wenger. It was the least of my worries at half-time and full-time so I’ve not even seen it.”
Brentford allowed a two-goal lead to slip as Derby fought back to earn a 2-2 draw. The Londoners had been in complete control at half-time after Ivan Toney put away his 27th Championship goal of the season from the penalty spot when Lee Buchanan tripped Bryan Mbeumo.
It was no surprise when they scored a second in the 23rd minute, with both Toney and Mbeumo involved in the move that Sergi Canos finished with a low drive from the edge of the box.
Derby had to respond and they did with manager Wayne Rooney making three substitutions which changed the game. There was more intensity to Derby’s play and Lee Gregory pulled one back in the 47th minute when he turned in Nathan Byrne’s low cross. The momentum was with Derby and they deservedly levelled in the 87th minute when Louie Sibley curled a shot past David Raya from just inside the box.
Cardiff could only manage a 0-0 with Stoke City. Having seen his 11 match unbeaten run come to an end last weekend with a 2-1 home defeat to Watford, McCarthy was looking for his side to get back to winning ways against Stoke – but he certainly did not like what he saw in the first half.
“I was angry at half-time because we weren’t intense enough in our pressing. It’s the first time I have raised my voice,” admitted McCarthy. “It had all gone very well up until last weekend. We didn’t want to lose again after last that and it was a hard-earned point in the end.”
Luton cruised to a 2-0 win over 10-man Coventry. A first senior goal for former Aston Villa full-back James Bree set the hosts on their way, with the 2-0 result secured as Elijah Adebayo converted a penalty after Kyle McFadzean had been sent off for handball.