Football: Nationwide League - Blackburn urged to overcome their fear

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The Independent Online
BRIAN KIDD, the Blackburn manager, believes his side need to toughen up mentally if they are to overcome their fear of playing in the First Division.

Rovers are still searching for their first victory after taking just one point from their opening three matches, culminating in Saturday's 2-1 defeat at home to Barnsley.

Second-half goals from Georgi Hristov and Neil Shipperley sandwiched a Lee Carsley penalty, leaving Kidd to admit: "I thought we looked frightened to death, and that was a very poor performance. The players didn't support each other or come to terms with the mental application that is needed. But I am still confident we can get it right."

Portsmouth find themselves in second place following a 2-0 success over Stockport County with goals from Stefano Miglioranzi and Rory Allen, who headed in his first home goal since his pounds 1m move from Tottenham.

The performance of the day came at Maine Road where Joe Royle's Manchester City hammered rock-bottom Sheffield United 6-0, with the Blades collapsing following the dismissal of goalkeeper Simon Tracey. Kevin Horlock set up the win with two penalties just before half-time, with Mark Kennedy, Shaun Goater, Paul Dickov and Gareth Taylor completing the rout.

"It was nice to get off the mark and register our first league victory and also to score six goals in the process," said Royle.

Birmingham are third after a 4-2 victory over Port Vale, who had Tommy Widdrington sent off in only the second minute. It led to a stern blast from Vale manager Brian Horton, who watched two goals each from Paul Furlong and Bryan Hughes condemn his side to defeat.

An angry Horton said: "I can't condone tackles like that. I knew he would get a red card. He is an experienced player and should know better."

Charlton lie fourth, with Richard Rufus' 73rd-minute strike enough to beat Norwich, who are two off the bottom and on just one point along with Sheffield United, Vale, Blackburn and Grimsby.

For the Mariners, it was their first point of the season as they held Fulham to a 1-1 draw at Blundell Park, with Kingsley Black's equaliser cancelling out Steve Finnan's fourth-minute opener.

Wolves were also held to a 1-1 draw by Queen's Park Rangers at Loftus Road where Gavin Peacock helped grab a point after Steve Corica had given the visitors the lead.

Swindon came from a goal behind at Selhurst Park to beat Crystal Palace 2-1 while Crewe also came from one down at Walsall before winning 4-1. Tranmere's Jason Koumas scored the only goal in the home win over Huddersfield.