Football: Regis seals Argyle's fate

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The Independent Online
Birmingham City. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .4

Regis 40, 89, Wallace 44, Tait 47

Plymouth Argyle. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .2

Castle 58, Nugent 80

Attendance: 13,202

BARRY FRY, whose wheeler- dealing at Birmingham City has led to four teams' worth of comings and goings, may now have the perfect blend for promotion.

Plymouth, who blew up in last season's play-offs, are suddenly a soft touch. But that did not detract from City's win, an exciting mixture of steel, heart and skill.

The Devon side had gone close twice in the opening minute, had further chances from Keith Hill and Martin Barlow, but always looked vulnerable to Birmingham's

caution-to-the-wind attacks. Dave Regis atoned for an earlier missed header by tapping in Paul Tait's flick for starters.

Then Plymouth's Ryan Giggs lookalike Chris Twiddey cut in and nearly scored with a fierce drive, but City merely went up the field and scored again. Mark Ward sent Steve Claridge free on the right with a measured pass. Claridge turned his man twice and drove the cross on to the head of the diving Danny Wallace for an irresistible goal.

Two minutes after the restart an increasingly exuberant St Andrews had a third to celebrate. Another subtle first-time pass from Ward gave Chris Whyte the space to loft a ball to Tait. He ran on goal and put a low shot to Martin Hodge's left. The influential Ward was withdrawn immediately, allowing us to gape at the electrifying substitute, Jose Dominguez. The ex-Benfica man jinked past Plymouth defenders at will, showed scorching pace and crossed accurately every time.

As City rampaged through the shell-shocked visitors, Plymouth had the bad manners to score. The goal went almost unnoticed, Steve Castle heading in from a Twiddey corner. Plymouth then traded attack for attack until the hard-

working Kevin Nugent glanced Andy Comyn's lofted pass in to set up a nervous last 10 minutes. Barlow nearly equalised with a header, Paul Harding hit Hodge's post after a snaking run, but Regis calmed the jitters by rounding Hodge and scoring.