Football: Goater herds City to summit

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The Independent Online
MANCHESTER CITY went to the top of the Nationwide First Division when Shaun Goater's 34th-minute goal against Walsall at the Bescot Stadium maintained their unbeaten away record. The goal was not the prettiest of strikes - a Paul Dickov shot was pushed aside by Carl Emberson but Mark Kennedy quickly got the ball back into the danger area and the Bermudan international striker Goater forced it over the line - but it meant that Manchester teams now head the top two divisions in England.

City should have won by a wider margin than 1-0 and, typically, manager Joe Royle is "not getting carried away. The hard part is to stay top... but I have to say we should have won by four or five."

Huddersfield overcame an obdurate Norwich City at the McAlpine Stadium to win 1-0 and go fourth. After a dull first half the Dutch striker, Clyde Wijnhard, chipped his sixth goal of the season from the edge of the penalty area. "We got the three points and I'm not too bothered what the score is as long as we win," Town's pragmatic manager, Steve Bruce, said. "But it was a patchy performance and I will analyse that after I've watched the video."

Barnsley drew 2-2 at Bolton Wanderers and slipped back to sixth while West Bromwich were held by the same score at home to Blackburn Rovers. Kevin Kilbane scored Albion's goals, a brilliant first after beating three defenders and a diving header.

Charlton Athletic came from behind at Bramall Lane where two Andy Hunt goals gave them a 2-1 win over Sheffield United, moving them up to seventh. The Blades' manager, Adrian Heath, said: "The front two of Clive Mendonca and Andy Hunt are the best we've played against."

Portsmouth brought Tranmere Rovers, who had beaten Premiership Coventry City 5-1 in a midweek Worthington Cup tie, resoundingly back to earth with a 4-2 thumping at Prenton Park, Jeff Peron scoring twice. Tranmere are bottom.

Crystal Palace, by contrast, continued their Worthington form (they drew with Premier side Leicester City), beating Grimsby 3-0 at Selhurst Park to leap from last place to 18th. Clinton Morrison scored one, his sixth goal of the season.

Second Division Reading's new caretaker managerial partnership of Alan Pardew and the former England No 2, John Gorman, saw their charges narrowly beat Chesterfield 1-0 thanks to Darren Caskey's goal. The division's new leaders are Burnley, Andy Payton scoring a hat-trick in their 3-0 defeat of Colchester. Bristol Rovers are second, Jamie Cureton netted twice in their 3-2 win over Oldham.

The Third Division leaders, Barnet, kept their unbeaten start intact by beating Northampton 2-1 at Underhill, Ken Charlery scoring both of their goals. Gary Alexander bagged two for second-placed Exeter, 2-1 winners over York.

Finally, a message of hope for all strugglers: Think Chester. Their first league win of the season came at the eighth attempt when Manuel "Going To" Agogo scored in injury time at Brighton to make it 3-2. Chester are still bottom, mind.