Football: Crewe supply Gradi fillip

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CREWE KEPT Dario Gradi, their manager, on edge until securing the three points that lifted them out of the First Division relegation zone. Seth Johnson's first-half goal secured a 1-0 win at home to bottom- placed Bristol City on Tuesday.

Gradi said: "It was an important win but it shouldn't have been such a close game. If Mark Rivers had taken his two chances we could have been cruising in the last 20 minutes, but I don't want to criticise him because apart from that I thought he played really well.

"Bristol played a lot of high balls but we coped very well. It's hard to play football in a situation like this but we've got to try to play football and we handled the situation very well. I could have made any of our players man of the match tonight. If we win on Saturday we'll have a chance of avoiding the drop."

Benny Lennartsson, the Bristol City manager, was despondent but refused to concede that his side were down.

He said: "I think it's a very remote chance that we could survive, but we won't stop before it's impossible for us to stay up so we'll go on fighting for another two games. I look back at the West Brom game when it was cruel to lose two points and because of that it took us a couple of games to get over the result. But the players have shown a lot of character. I'm pleased we have improved but we haven't improved enough. We are still one step away from being a really good team."

Elsewhere, two late goals by the substitute John Taylor clinched automatic promotion for Cambridge United as a 2-0 win at Rochdale lifted them to the top of the Third Division table. Taylor converted an 83rd-minute penalty with his first touch and added a header two minutes from time.

Brentford stay in the third automatic position but were denied all three points by Marco Gabbiadini's 21st goal of the campaign seven minutes from time in a 2-2 draw at mid-table Darlington. Wigan and Stoke both enhanced their chances of reaching the Second Division play-offs with victories as Bournemouth, currently occupying the final play-off spot, slipped up 2-1 at Colchester.

Jason Dozzell headed the 67th-minute winner which eased Colchester's relegation fears after Bournemouth's James Hayter and David Greene of the hosts had netted own goals in the first half. The Cherries, five games without a win, are now only four points ahead of seventh-placed Wigan having played three games more as Athletic won 3-1 at home to Lincoln City.

Colin Greenall, Andy Liddell and Carl Bradshaw with a penalty scored in the second half for Wigan. Steve Holmes' dismissal for deliberate handball did little to improve the Imps' chances of survival.