Football: Francis discovers relief

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The Independent Online
Chelsea. . . . . . . . . .1

Sheffield Wednesday. . . .1

'DELIGHTED. We've scored,' Trevor Francis said on Saturday with no small injection of sarcasm. After 372 minutes without a goal, Sheffield Wednesday got off the mark against Chelsea, but one in the net did not see them making up for lost time.

Wednesday's season's duck was finished by Mark Bright who needed a second stab at a low cross from Nigel Worthington. Dmitri Kharine, the Chelsea goalkeeper, parried the first attempt and could not stop the second, but despite an active afternoon plucking at crosses from the sky, in terms of shot-stopping, he was relatively unemployed.

Francis refuses to be ruffled, even though the goal drought has seen Wednesday slip 11 points behind the leaders. The team many tipped to go the whole way this season, he said, should be judged in May and, for the doubters, he even had some statistics to hand: Wednesday's 3-1 defeat at Leeds in December saw them drop to 17th. Yet they finished seventh.

Bright got his goal - just - but his combination with Chris Bart-Williams did not really have the chance to be tested. Those two and the first-choice pair, Paul Warhurst and David Hirst (both injured) are all proven strikers so Francis may be looking at their providers. John Sheridan, who was rarely out of the pre-season transfer talk, was muscular but uninventive and Andy Sinton, enthusiasm bursting, was briefly dynamic but appeared not to have settled in his new side.

Most out of touch, though, was that old favourite, Chris Waddle. He threaded through the odd showstopper but was woefully frustrated with his lack of touch.

The Blues defence, rearranged and tightened after the faulty start, appeared equal to all thrown their way. Jakob Kjeldbjerg, the Danish import, was strong, particularly in the air, and David Lee, until his second booking in the 73rd minute, was impressive in the Hoddle sweeper role and started and finished the fine move that produced Chelsea's equaliser.

Goals: Bright (12) 0-1; Lee (34) 1-1.

Chelsea (4-1-3-2): Kharine; Clarke, Johnsen, Kjeldbjerg, Myers (Lee, 8); Hoddle; Newton, Donaghy, Wise; Peacock, Cascarino (Shipperley, 80). Substitute not used: Hitchcock (gk).

Sheffield Wednesday (4-4-2): Woods; Nilsson, Walker, Pearson, Worthington; Waddle, Sheridan, Hyde, Sinton; Bright, Bart-Williams. Substitutes not used: Linighan, Pressman (gk), Watson.

Referee: K Morton (Bury St Edmunds).