Football : Dons drive Forest out of Premiership

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The Independent Online
In a week in which the removal from office of MPs has dominated the news, football's MPs - Members of the Premiership, that is - also started falling with Nottingham Forest the first to go, relegated after a 1-1 home draw with Wimbledon.

The Dons, who welcomed the influential midfielder Robbie Earle back to their starting line-up, went ahead in the 16th minute when Oyvind Leonhardsen drove home Duncan Jupp's deflected cross.

Forest's chances of avoiding relegation had been slim at the start but were now so thin as to be transparent and despite Bryan Roy's equaliser, they will be visiting Port Vale, Bury and Stockport next season.

The other Midlands side in peril, Coventry City, slipped back into the relegation places following a 2-1 home defeat by Derby County. Gordon Strachan, the player-manager, again picked himself to start but surprisingly left Darren Huckerby, who has been Coventry's most consistent threat since signing from Newcastle, on the bench.

After a scrappy first half, the Rams were the quicker to settle and took the lead four minutes into the second half thanks to Gary Rowett's free- kick. Strachan replaced himself with Eoin Jess and 10 minutes later they were level when Christian Dailly clambered on Dion Dublin and Gary McAllister dispatched the penalty. But Dean Sturridge's 67th-minute winner sent the Sky Blues back into the drop zone.

London's endangered species, West Ham United, got off to a roaring start at home to Sheffield Wednesday. When Paul Kitson, who scored twice and missed a penalty in their previous home game, the 2-2 draw with Everton, scored after five and 13 minutes the match seemed to be turning into Groundhog Day, the Bill Murray film. This time, though, Kitson went on to complete his hat-trick in a 5-1 thrashing of the Yorkshire side.

A John Hartson header from John Moncur's free-kick made it 3-0 on the half-hour and when the Owls' striker, David Hirst, was unwise enough to get himself sent off 12 minutes into the second half for serious foul play, Wednesday's threat diminished even further. It was obliterated when Hartson added his second and the Hammers' fourth.

There was a predictable 0-0 draw at Stamford Bridge between Chelsea and Leeds United in a match with nothing at stake in Premiership terms. An eye-catching performance by a fringe player, Gianluca Vialli for example, might have persuaded the Chelsea manager, Ruud Gullit, to change the side which he doubtless has in mind to play in the FA Cup final in two weeks' time. Alas for the game, no one felt able to grasp the chance.

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