Beardsley blow

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PETER BEARDSLEY will miss Newcastle United's Premiership match today against Chelsea, when they need a point to go back to the top, after having a sudden knee operation. "Peter went into hospital so they could have a look at his knee. They found something floating and took it out," Kevin Keegan, Newcastle's manager, said. He could be out for a month.

In the First Division, West Brom can also go top, from sixth, if they win at Stoke this afternoon, such is the tightness of that section where three points covers the top nine.

At Filbert Street, it never rained but Hails stole the show. Julian of that ilk scored a hat-trick for Southend as they beat the leaders Leicester 3-1. The Seasiders side dominated from three minutes into the match when Paul Byrne's cross picked out Hails, unmarked in the penalty box. A 12- yard, right-foot shot and an injury time strike completed a nice awayday.

Pontus Kamark, the IFK Gothenburg goalkeeper who will join Leicester in October, was at the game. "When I was shown round the ground I felt the chemistry was right," he said. That, of course, was before he saw the team. Leicester trooped off to the sound of "What a load of rubbish", a chorus echoed at Molineux where lowly Wolves could only draw 0-0 with lowlier than thou Luton.

Second-placed Millwall were unable to take advantage of Leicester's slip, losing 2-1 to Sunderland at the New Den. A minute before half time, David Kelly, signed for pounds 900,000 from Wolves in the week, was pushed by Tony Witter and Martin Scott converted the penalty. Keith Stevens equalised but, 90 seconds after coming on, the Rokerite's England under-21 substitute Martin Smith touched in Michael Gray's free-kick.

If Charlton are your next visitors, put up the shutters now. For the second time in four days they scored five away from The Valley after conceding an early goal. On this occasion it was Ipswich who were lulled before being swept aside 5-1. Carl Leaburn scored a hat-trick in the final 21 minutes. The Robins go fourth, a point behind Barnsley who beat Derby 2-0.

Second Division leaders Swindon have a four point lead but the section's heroes this week were York, Coca-Cola cup first leg conquerors of Manchester United. They swapped Old Trafford for humbler Bootham Crescent but kept winning, 1-0 against Walsall this time.

In the Third, Gillingham, second, drew 1-1 at leaders Chester and in Scotland, the Celtic half of Glasgow enjoy that rare table-topping glow after a 4-0 win at Hearts. Andy Walker and Brian McLaughlin scored two each.