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Ireland striker Scott Hogan the ’real deal’

How the Irish fared: Steve Bruce described Scott Hogan as the “real deal” after the Aston Villa striker’s first-half header secured a 1-0 Championship victory at Nottingham Forest on Saturday, writes Darren Norris.

Hogan’s effort ensured a third successive league win and lifted Villa to fourth, five points off an automatic play-off spot.

“It’s amazing how quickly you can gain confidence,” Bruce said. “He gets a goal against Bristol City (on New Year’s Day) and he looks a different player. He’s oozing that confidence now and he looked the real deal today.”

Cardiff City continued their promotion push by hammering Sunderland 4-0 with Anthony Pilkington scoring the fourth in stoppage time.

Aiden O’Brien was on the mark for Millwall but the Lions had to settle for a 1-1 draw after Preston grabbed a late equaliser.

Paying tribute to the in-form O’Brien, Millwall boss Neil Harris said: “I’m really pleased for Aiden. He’s proved over the last couple of years that he gets goals in gluts.”

Mick McCarthy’s Ipswich maintained their hopes of a play-off push by beating Leeds 1-0 but the main talking point from Portman Road was the dismissal of visiting midfielder Eunan O’Kane following an off-the-ball incident with Jonas Knudsen.

Replays showed O’Kane had to go but Leeds manager Thomas Christiansen tried to defend his player.

He said: “In this situation (O’Kane) didn’t make a movement to hit. When two players hit each other and one dives as he (Knudsen) did, the one who stays on his feet receives the red card. I think we should appeal because he didn’t do anything. It was a provocation and they touched each other, and the only one who went to the ground was the opponent.”

In League One, Paddy Madden enjoyed a dream Fleetwood Town debut. Within 60 seconds of his introduction as a second-half sub, Madden created their equaliser at Southend and five minutes later he scored his first goal for the club to secure a 2-1 win.

Elsewhere, John-Joe O’Toole scored a goal and made another as Northampton won 2-1 at Bradford City while Bradley Garmston was on the mark in Gillingham’s 2-1 win over Rochdale. In League Two, Lee Frecklington scored in Lincoln City’s 2-2 draw with Notts County.

This story first appeared in the Irish Examiner.