Football: Clark lifts City's spirits

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The Independent Online
Since taking over in the hot dug-out at Maine Road, Frank Clark has reinvigorated Manchester City and the Sky Blues' unbeaten run continued with a 3-0 win over Southend United. City's form now reads four wins in five matches. After much puff and poor finishing in the first half, 26,000 grateful Mancunians saw Uwe Rosler score twice and Georgi Kinkladze once in the second to put daylight between City and the relegation places.

Also on a roll, Portsmouth went to St Andrews chasing four consecutive wins and found Birmingham City in very co- operative mood. Matthias Svensson gave Pompey a third-minute lead. His participation ended 37 minutes later when he was stretchered off with a neck injury but Pompey's collective day got better, Lee Bradbury and an Alan McLoughlin penalty rounding off a 3-0 win. It was Brum's third defeat in a week. "This performance was the worst since I've been the club's manager," a furious Trevor Francis said. "To loose 3-0 at home is a belting. We have got to defend better."

Dave Bassett celebrated his first year in charge of promotion-chasing Crystal Palace with a 3-1 win over struggling Bradford at Selhurst Park, moving them up to fifth. Palace trailed after five minutes thanks to the still-potent skills of Chris Waddle but the Londoners charged back after Bassett's half-time talk - "I had a few harsh words but it wasn't a blast" - and Neil Shipperley, George Ndah and Dougie Freedman scored in a 14-minute spell. Bradford must be glad it wasn't a blast. Also on the play-off fringes, Ipswich Town beat Queen's Park Rangers 2-0 at Portman Road. "It keeps us ticking over nicely in the table," the Town manager, George Burley, said. "We have beaten the top clubs away, now we are putting in a run at home."

In the relegation scrap at Boundary Park, Grimsby Town beat Oldham Athletic 3-0, the first time they have won consecutive matches this season. Athletic go bottom. "There is no doubt we are now in with a fighting chance of avoiding the drop," the Mariners' optimistic manager Kenny Swain said.

In the Second Division, a Bournemouth fan, incensed at the award of a penalty to Bury, rushed on to the Gigg Lane pitch and punched referee Cruikshanks, who later awarded a spot-kick to the Cherries. No Shakers fan exacted similar retribution. Bury won 2-1 to go fourth. The top two, Brentford and Luton, were held by Watford and Plymouth respectively.

There are new leaders in the Third Division after Fulham lost 2-0 at Lincoln and Wigan beat Carlisle 1-0 thanks to David Lowe's first goal of the season.

The sea air at Scarborough was too bracing for Darlington. The Quakers had two men sent off for serious foul play in the first half and one in the second. The eight men lost 4-1 as David Currie scored at hat-trick for Boro.