Football: Phillips hits new heights

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The Independent Online
SUNDERLAND WENT back to the top of the Nationwide First Division after a convincing 2-0 win at Ipswich Town. Peter Reid's side took control in the 12th minute when John Mullin drove the ball into the roof of the net from close-range from a cross by Michael Gray.

On 32 minutes, Alex Mathie hit a post for the home side but four minutes later they were two down when free-scoring Kevin Phillips broke through on his own, rounded Richard Wright, the Ipswich goalkeeper, and coolly finished. The Wearsiders exerted greater control in the second half and Phillips spurned several chances to increase their lead.

Two goals by the substitute Fabian De Freitas, the former Bolton Wanderers striker, gave West Bromwich Albion a 2-0 win at the Hawthorns to ruin Norwich City's hitherto 100 per cent record. The 26-year-old Dutch striker, picked up on a free transfer from the Spanish club Osasuna, oddly enough on the recommendation of Bruce Rioch, the Canaries' manager, had been on the pitch for only 30 seconds, replacing Michael Evans, when he was first to the rebound as Lee Hughes' header hit the post and from six yards he lashed the ball past Andy Marshall.

Thirteen minutes later, the substitution by the Albion manager Denis Smith looked even more inspired when James Quinn nodded down and De Freitas fired in, this time from eight yards.

Ten-man Sheffield United - Lee Sandford was sent off after his second booking in the 88th minute when the Blades were 2-1 down - fought back to equalise in the 90th minute through Gareth Taylor at Bolton Wanderers.

Steve Bruce, the Blades manager, has no new money for players and his task looked hopeless as Wanderers raced to a 2-0 through Greg Strong and Nathan Blake. Dean Saunders pulled one back before Sandford's dismissal. But in injury time, Taylor fired through Gudni Bergsson's legs to make Sheffield's point.

"I've left Gareth Taylor out for a couple of games but he's come in and turned the game for us," Bruce said. "He made one and scored one and he'll be rightly thinking it's a slap in the face for me."

Another injury-time goal, Alan McLoughlin's penalty for Portsmouth at the McAlpine Stadium, thwarted Huddersfield Town, who in a rollercoaster of a game had twice trailed Pompey before taking a 3-2 lead in the 89th minute through Wayne Allison. Then Town's goalkeeper, Nico Vaesen, pulled back Steve Claridge, and McLoughlin made no mistake from the spot. Earlier two Marcus Stewart equalisers had kept Huddersfield in the game.

"The defence was really bad today," Peter Jackson, the Terriers' manager, said. "We have to cut out the mistakes... this game could have ended 6-6."

Other drawn games in the division were not quite as thrilling. Bury's fourth clean sheet ensured a point at Queen's Park Rangers. Ray Harford, the Rangers manager, said he is considering signing Chris Waddle. "I think today he certainly could have done something for us."

Bristol City's Ade Akinbiyi levelled at 1-1 at Tranmere Rovers and proceeded to miss several chances to win the game. After the final whistle, Frank Corfe, the Tranmere chairman, announced his resignation after 11 years at the club and put up for sale his 86 per cent shareholding. Booing as he made a half-time presentation on the pitch "crystallised" his decision.

The big game in the Second Division also finished all square as Fulham and AFC Bournemouth, two sides with previously perfect starts, shared a goalless draw at Craven Cottage. This left Stoke City, 2-0 winners over Oldham Athletic, clear at the top with four wins out of four. It's the same story for Rotherham United who top Division Three with a 100 per cent record after their 1-0 win at Cardiff City.

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