Football: McFarland wins time

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The Independent Online
Derby County. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .2

Charles 1, Pembridge 47

Grimsby Town. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .1

Mendonca 60

Attendance: 12,027

DERBY showed the benefit of being quick off the blocks in a result that lifts them off the bottom of the First Division. Gary Charles scored inside the opening minute, and Mark Pembridge with the second half less than two minutes old. Try as they might, Grimsby could not catch up.

So Roy McFarland stays in work a little longer, after clear signals from the boardroom that his position as manager is under review. The first week in September may seem unjustly early to be facing possible dismissal, especially for a man who at Wembley in May was just 90 minutes away from a Premiership place, but Lionel Pickering's patience is at breaking point. Failing at the play-offs upset Derby's ambitious benefactor, and his humour has hardly been improved by the start to this season. One point from four matches preceded yesterday's tonic.

McFarland's problem is that it is not really his team. All bar pounds 75,000 of Pickering's pounds 12m spree was spent by his predecessor, Arthur Cox. McFarland, in the job since October last year, has been told that he must sell before he can buy. Thus the only new face in a Derby shirt is Steve Hodge, on loan from Leeds for a month. The former England midfield man displayed the occasional flash of quality, but little more.

Far more influential was Pembridge, who responded to pre-match barracking from some disgruntled supporters with a wholeheated performance. Most of the good things Derby did involved him. His cross from the left created the first goal, headed away with insufficient force and volleyed back with precision by right- back Charles, who beat goalkeeper Paul Crichton from a tight angle.

The goal that put the Welsh international's own name on the score sheet benefited from a substantial deflection off defender Mark Lever when he took aim from outside the box, but it was no more than Pembridge deserved.

Clive Mendonca snatched a lifeline for Grimsby on the hour when Martin Taylor fumbled a deflected cross, but Derby were superior enough to have won by a wider margin, had Dean Sturridge and Paul Kitson made other chances count.