Bradbury halts Palace charge

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Lee Bradbury's first goal in senior football earned Portsmouth a point four minutes from time in a 2-2 draw with Crystal Palace at Fratton Park last night and slowed the south London club's surge towards the top of the Nationwide League First Division.

Palace looked to be heading for a sixth successive victory when fine work by Bruce Dyer in the 63rd minute set up striker Dougie Freedman to score their 24th goal in six games from close range and put them 2-1 up. However, Palace's offside trap let them down with three points in sight, and Bradbury was allowed to get on the end of Paul Hall's lofted pass into the penalty area to head the equaliser past Carlo Nash from eight yards.

Earlier, Carl Veart had put Palace ahead against the run of play, but Portsmouth levelled just before the interval after Jimmy Carter sped down the left to cross perfectly for Hall.

Southend United restored their pride after their 6-1 thrashing by Palace at the weekend and picked up three points when they fought out a 3-2 victory over Sheffield United at Roots Hall.

Andy Walker put the Blades ahead after only seven minutes thanks to a good cross by Dane Whitehouse, but Southend, showing gritty determination to put their season back on track, took control of the game and could have scored on several occasions before the Dutchman Jeroen Boere headed them level in the 33rd minute.

Within a minute, Walker restored the visitors' lead, but Southend still refused to fold, equalising with a 54th-minute penalty by Mike Marsh after Don Hutchison handled. Boere drove in the winner from close range with 19 minutes left.

Only the crowd was disappointing for Southend, 3,716 being their smallest for two years.

An 88th-minute by Paul Groves goal earned West Bromwich Albion a 1-1 draw a the bottom club, Oldham Athletic, and a club record of 12 away games without defeat. Oldham, without a win this season, had gone in front when Ian Ormondroyd scored on his home debut.

Brentford extended their lead in the Second Division to five points after Nicky Forster earned them a 2-1 victory at Bristol City with a late goal.

Elsewhere in west London there was less joy as two late goals by Garry Nelson gave Torquay their first League away win of the season, 2-1 at the overnight leaders, Fulham. Carlisle took over at the top by beating Colchester 3-0, with goals from David Currie, David Reeves and Owen Archdeacon.