LONDON (AFP) Championship leaders Newcastle extended their lead at the top of the table on Saturday after a 3-0 victory over Preston at St James Park. The Magpies are now five points clear of second placed Nottingham Forest but West Bromwich can close the gap to three points if they beat Bristol City on Sunday. Denmark forward Peter Lovenkrands - who has shown great form and courage since his father died earlier this year - set the tone with a fortunate third minute strike before former Bolton midfielder Kevin Nolan extended Newcastles advantage ten minutes after half-time. Forest kept themselves in touch and leapfrogged into the second automatic promotion place after a hard fought 1-0 win against Middlesbrough at the City Ground. Gordon Strachans Boro offered stiff resistance before finally being undone by Chris Cohens sweet strike in the 75th minute. The victory was Forests ninth straight home league win, a club record. Swansea consolidated their play-off position by beating Derby 1-0 in a stormy encounter at Pride Park which featured police coming onto the pitch to separate brawling players from both teams. Finland striker Shefki Kuqi won the points with a 66th minute goal but both teams ended up with ten men after Rams defender Jay McEveley and Swans substitute Gorka Pintado were both sent off. Cardiff did themselves no favours in their chase of the top two after losing 2-0 at home to Barnsley. Malta striker Daniel Bogdanovic claimed a brace as the Tykes claimed their first double over City for 51 years. The final play-off spot is occupied by Leicester, although their cushion has been reduced after they could only muster a 1-1 draw away at relegation-threatened Plymouth. Ipswich claimed a crucial win against fellow strugglers Sheffield Wednesday after an early Carlos Edwards goal ensured they left Hillsborough with a crucial 1-0 victory. Roy Keanes side, who started the game in the relegation zone, climb three places to 19th after grabbing their fourth away win of the season. Wednesday remain precariously placed one point above the relegation zone. The reason the Owls dont find themselves in the drop zone is due to Crystal Palaces late 1-0 defeat at home to Coventry. The Eagles, still smarting from a 10-point penalty incurred for going into administration, looked to be heading for a vital point until Sky Blues substitute David Bells sublime 85th minute goal won the game. Readings recent good run came to a halt at Bloomfield Road where goals from DJ Campbell and Charlie Adam earned Blackpool a 2-0 win which keeps the Royals involved in the relegation fight. QPR did their own chances of survival no harm with a 2-1 win over Doncaster, Antonio German and Jay Simpson scoring the Rangers goals. Bottom club Peterborough were unable to try and improve their situation as their game against Sheffield United was called off due to a frozen pitch.