Football: Baggies pay for week of losses

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IPSWICH TOWN went third in the Nationwide First Division with a 3-1 win over a West Bromwich Albion apparently hellbent on self-destruction. Last week Albion lost one of their best young players, Kevin Kilbane, sold to Sunderland, and their chairman, Tony Hale, who resigned. And they lost a goal at Portman Road after only six minutes when James Scowcroft headed down John McGreal's cross for David Johnson to scramble in his 14th goal of the season.

Scowcroft made it 2-0 after another melee and Albion then obligingly reduced their numbers to nine as first Lars Sigurdsson was sent off following a fracas in which he shoved Johnson in the face. Johnson was also booked and soon after gave way, victim of a sprained ankle. By the time his replacement, Neil Midgley, marked his first-team debut with Ipswich's third Albion's Matt Carbon had been dismissed by referee David Crick for a professional foul.

"There was only one bad tackle in the game and I don't think anyone should have been sent off," Craig Burley, the Ipswich manager, said. "Some of the decisions inflamed the situation and that's why tempers became a bit heated."

Albion's day to forget ended with two of their players squaring up during their warm down - for muscles not tempers, apparently.

Huddersfield Town maintained a one-point lead at the top of the division with a 3-1 home win over Grimsby. Clyde Wijnhard, a pounds 750,000 buy from Leeds, scored twice, taking his season's total to 14, and Marcus Stewart broke his run of eight games without a goal to seal the win. They have 26 goals between them this season.

"Their front two took some stopping," Alan Buckley, the Mariners' manager, admitted. "They have different strengths and complement each other well. On the day they were the difference between the sides."

Manchester City, second, ended their run of three consecutive defeats when they took three points off the bottom club, Swindon Town, in a 3- 0 win at Maine Road. Town's goalkeeper Frank Talia was at fault for the first two goals; his block left Jamie Pollock a tap-in, then he let Robert Taylor's shot slip under him. But he could do nothing about Shaun Goater's 13th of the season before the hour.

It was Taylor's first goal since arriving from Gillingham. "It was not the greatest goal but I don't suppose that will worry Robert," the City manager, Joe Royle, said. "The key to him is his fitness and there's a lot more to come on that front but his link play has been outstanding."

Unfancied Stockport County continue to confound the doubters but perhaps there will be a few more believers in the Bolton area after they beat Wanderers 1-0 at the Reebok Stadium. Tony Dinning's winner came on the hour.

Walsall should consider action against Barnsley under the Trades Description Act. Craig Hignett, the Tykes' allegedly "makeshift" striker, belied the adjective when he tucked away a hat-trick, his third goal coming in third minute of injury time, as Barnsley beat Walsall 3-2 at Oakwell to stay fifth.

"He has got Premiership quality finishing," his proud manager, Dave Bassett, enthused, "and sometimes people ask, `where do you play him?' He can play in so many positions. I defy Michael Owen or Alan Shearer to score three better goals than he did today."

The four London sides in the division met and could not manage a goal between them. Ten-man Queen's Park Rangers - Chris Kiwomya was sent off - withstood Charlton Athletic's challenge at Loftus Road to gain a point; Fulham's 0-0 stalemate at Crystal Palace was much more predictable being their 11th draw in 23 starts. Managerless Portsmouth also drew 0-0, at home to Port Vale.

In the Second Division, the top five won and leaders Wigan stretched their unbeaten League start to 21 matches with a 1-0 defeat of Brentford. In the Third, Barnet's lead at the top narrowed to three points. They drew 0-0 with Mansfield while Rotherham beat Darlington to go second. Chester beat Halifax 2-1, consigning Leyton Orient to the very bottom of the League.