Football: Little to ease Francis' fears

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GERRY FRANCIS is no fool is he? Installed on Friday for a second spell as the manager of Queen's Park Rangers, he left Iain Dowie, the acting player-manager, to pick the team for the visit to the Nationwide Division leaders Huddersfield Town. Watching from the stand, he will not have been overly impressed with the human resources at hand as Rangers lost 2-0, the Terriers scoring a goal in each half - through Rob Edwards and Ben Thornley - making it six wins out of seven games in an unbeaten start at the McAlpine Stadium.

At the front of the pack chasing Huddersfield, Birmingham City stretched their latest unbeaten run to four games after a 3-1 defeat of Crewe Alexandra at St Andrews. Last season Crewe won the corresponding match 1-0 but there was no second bolt of lightning. The quicksilver winger Peter Ndlovu put Brum ahead after eight minutes and although Seth Johnson equalised with a 30-yard drive the home side's power prevailed. Martin O'Connor's penalty on 45 minutes and Paul Furlong, eight minutes into the second half, kept Trevor Francis' side two points behind Huddersfield.

Ipswich Town moved up to third thanks to David Johnson's seventh goal of the season, which was enough to beat Swindon Town but their East Anglian neighbours, Norwich City, top in August, continue to get that sinking feeling and lost 5-1 at Selhurst Park, where Terry Venables' Crystal Palace revolution is taking shape.

At the Reebok Stadium, Bolton Wanderers maintained their unbeaten record but were unable beat injury-hit Oxford United. They punctured the visitors' well-organised defence after 37 minutes, Per Frandsen firing in his sixth goal of the season when he met Claus Jensen's cross on the edge of the box. But three minutes later, Oxford were level when Andrew Thomson scored at the far post. It stayed 1-1.

Too early to speak of relegation tussles, but Port Vale will be glad to have taken three points off Bristol City after their meeting at Vale Park ended in a 3-2 win. Vale led 2-0, Bristol hauled levelled, but two minutes from time Gareth Ainsworth's second goal of the game won it for the hosts.

Finally, at the allegedly unlucky 13th attempt, Wycombe Wanderers recorded a first win in the Second Division this season when they beat Macclesfield 3-0 at Adams Park double their points total.