Football: Allen stars in the Ex Files

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The Independent Online
Theories come and go but the immutable law of the "ex" - that a former player shall score the winner against the club that recently sold him - remains as sound as Darwin or Archimedes. For First Division confirmation, seek out Queen's Park Rangers or Manchester City. They both led against sides containing men who but lately wore their colours and lost when their erstwhile employees put the boot in, as it were.

Rangers, at home to Charlton Athletic, took an early lead when the sought- after Trevor Sinclair, who came off the transfer list last week, nipped on to Paul Murray's quick free-kick and chipped the goalkeeper Mike Salmon. The lead was emphatically cancelled out by the full-back Gary Poole, making his debut after a pounds 250,000 transfer from Birmingham. He took Mark Kinsella's pass and launched a tremendous 30-yard drive.

Thus fortified, Charlton took control after the break. Carl Leaburn and John Robinson were denied by Jurgen Sommer's saves but the former Rangers striker Bradley Allen settled the issue with a deserved winner, turning in Shaun Newton's cross from three yards out.

Cue chanting home fans. "I understand their demands," Stewart Houston, the manager, said, "and at the moment the supporters have not got much to cheer about. We look like scoring goals but we don't and we look like keeping a clean sheet but we don't. We are just losing to some spectacular goals at the moment."

Alan Curbishley, his opposite number, felt his side is back to last season's form. "We are four games behind everyone else and we've got two next week to catch up, so hopefully we can move right up the table because we are not a bottom-of-the-table side." Rangers would agree. Fitzroy Simpson was City's nemesis. They led at Portsmouth from the 16th minute when Simon Rodger, on loan from Crystal Palace, shot in from close range. But when Uwe Rosler missed a good chance five minutes later, the Pompey striker Lee Bradbury soon made City pay, charging clear to score his seventh goal of the season.

Five minutes before half-time, Simpson thumped in a glorious left-foot free-kick, a trick he nearly repeated minutes later. And in spite of having captain Andy Awford sent off in the 76th minute after a second booking, they held on. City are one berth above the relegation places.

Norwich stay third in the First Division after a 1-1 home draw with Reading, who took the lead through Trevor Morley but had captain Mick Gooding sent- off and saw Keith Scott level for the Canaries 10 minutes later. Barnsley, fourth, lost the league's remaining unbeaten away record when Swindon, who had not played for two weeks, beat them 3-0 at the County Ground.