Football: Dichio heads to summit

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TORRENTIAL RAIN and gale-force winds forced the postponement of 16 league games in England and Scotland, the abandonment of two more at half-time and a deluge of goals as the conditions made life interesting for defenders.

But it was the narrowest of wins that enabled Sunderland to reassert themselves at top of the First Division. Their 66th-minute substitute, Danny Dichio, headed in Michael Gray's 79th-minute cross to overcome Bury's resistance and force a 1-0 win at the Stadium of Light.

"I think we got our rewards for being patient," Peter Reid, the Wearsiders' manager, said. "It wasn't pretty... We have to grind results out and I don't think it's any coincidence that we are scoring goals so late in games."

Ipswich Town kept in touch with a 1-0 win at Stockport County. On the hour, Kieron Dyer beat the off-side trap and lobbed Carlo Nash from 18 yards. "The best side we have played this season," Gary Megson, County's manager, said.

Whenever Wolverhampton Wanderers drop out of the division's top six, the job security of their manager, Mark McGhee, is debated. This season, Wolves started with four straight wins and the rumour mill ground slowly. But with only one win after the end of August, the mutterings began.

A 2-0 home victory over Grimsby Town, thanks to a goal by Dominic Foley and a Keith Curle penalty, may have quietened the doubters. "We are expected to wipe the floor with every team we play," McGhee, sounding a trifle irked at a lack of compassion for the squad's injury problems, said.

At the bottom, the bill now looks due for Crewe Alexandra's policy of selling off their best young players in order to survive. At home to improving Tranmere Rovers, the game was finished as a contest after only 14 minutes. By then, Crewe trailed 4-0 and lost 4-1. His players, the Crewe manager Dario Gradi, said, "have a super attitude and work hard, so do I, but I wasn't good enough to play at this level. So that is what they've got to ask themselves - are they good enough?"

Lee Hughes scored his 15th goal of the season for West Bromwich Albion, who drew 2-2 at Swindon Town. "I thought we would go on and win the game," Denis Smith, Albion's dissatisfied manager, said.

In the Third Division, Scunthorpe United beat Rotherham United 4-3 in a thriller at Glanford Park and went top.