Football: Nationwide Preview: Reid wary of award `jinx'

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The Independent Online
PETER REID is keeping the champagne on ice until Sunderland have clinched promotion to the Premiership. The Wearsiders need 10 points from their last eight games to mathematically guarantee themselves a place in the top flight but only two more victories are likely to be enough.

Sunderland look for another success at home to West Bromwich Albion today, where they will try to equal a club record of 11 successive home wins. Reid, the Nationwide manager of the month for March after five straight wins, said: "We had a terrific month last month but we've still got a job to do and the time for celebrating will be when we've won promotion.

"These awards have a habit of proving to be a bit of a jinx in the game that follows but I'll risk that, considering we've had to play very well to get the trophy in the first place."

Oxford United play their first match since the London hotelier Firoz Kassam took over the club, at home to Bolton Wanderers. The Oxford manager, Malcolm Shotton, who gives Swedish goalkeeper Paul Lundin his debut, said: "Now we've got a solid base, we can look forward to going forward and hopefully that will be in the First Division. It will be a full house and it will be great to show Mr Kassam how welcome he is by getting three points in the bag."

Bolton are looking to consolidate their position in the play-off positions after a poor spell and the manager, Colin Todd, admitted: "It's important we get back on the winning trail. This is a crucial time of the season and we have everything to play for. I just want us to go out and try to relax and continue to play good football."

Bristol City have a crucial game at home to fellow strugglers Port Vale, whose manager, Brian Horton, could give debuts to four new players. He said: "It is a massive six-pointer but it is not just about this game; there's still a lot of work to do. I hope the new boys freshen us up."

The game of the day in the Second Division is between Manchester City and Wigan Athletic at Maine Road, with the Latics looking to move closer to the play-off places.

In the Third Division Cardiff City visit Cambridge United in a top-of- the-table meeting, while their east coast rivals Hull City and Scarborough meet at Boothferry Park as they try to move clear of the relegation zone.