Football: Official felled by irate fan at Albion

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The Independent Online
WEST BROMWICH ALBION will face a Football Association inquiry after a fan knocked a linesman to the ground in the 70th minute of their Nationwide First Division 2-2 draw with Portsmouth at The Hawthorns. The official had ruled that a shot by Albion's Kevin Kilbane had not been deflected for a corner.

The impetuous supporter was wrestled to the ground by Paul Mardon, an Albion substitute warming up on the touchline at the time, led away by stewards and handed over to the police. He missed Albion's equaliser, scored by James Quinn eight minutes later.

"This fan will probably be banned from the ground for life," John Wile, the Albion chief executive, said. "Supporters have got to act in a responsible way and accept decisions."

The manager, Denis Smith, may not be at the club much longer either if the words of his chairman, Tony Hale, are any indication. Albion, who have been indifferent in recent weeks, trailed Pompey 2-0 at half-time thanks to two sumptuous John Durnin strikes in three first-half minutes. "We had a five-minute lapse in concentration and conceded two goals," Smith said. Boos and chants of "what a load of rubbish" rang out loudly while, of Smith's tenure: Hale cautioned that "We will wait and see how results go."

There were more lapses in defence to be rued as Bradford City clung to the division's second automatic promotion place despite losing a typically rumbustious West Yorkshire derby, 3-2 to Huddersfield Town, at Valley Parade. Robert Blake put the Bantams ahead in the eighth minute but the Terriers hit back. Marcus Stewart equalised with his 25th goal of the season, a Wayne Allison header put Town in charge and Ben Thornley added their third on 36 minutes.

"I cannot believe how we defended for 25 minutes in that first-half spell when Huddersfield scored three goals," Paul Jewell, the Bradford manager, said. But when, on the stroke of half-time, the visitors' full-back Steve Jenkins was sent off after an attempted butt on Peter Beagrie, Bradford saw their chance.

Jewell sent on his pounds 1m substitute, Dean Windass, to set up a frantic finale as Bradford's five-man forward line encamped round the Huddersfield goal. Windass duly made it 3-2 in the 72nd minute but spurned a point when his penalty was saved by Nico Vaesen.

The division's relegation scrap of the day was won for Port Vale by Allen Tankard's 55th-minute goal against Oxford United. Bury clung on grimly to a point against 10-man Grimsby Town in a 0-0 draw at Blundell Park, which dropped Oxford into the relegation places. They join Bristol City, who picked up a point when they twice came from behind to draw 2-2 at Stockport County, and the bottom club, Crewe, who lost 1-0 at home to the play-off hopefuls Watford.

The goalscoring performance of the day belonged to Third Division Rotherham United's substitute, Leo Fortune-West, who scored a hat-trick in six minutes against Carlisle, who had been leading 1-0.