Football: Romp for Birmingham
Sunday 13 December 1998
Oxford are struggling to stay afloat in the face of massive debts, but while the stack 'em high sell 'em cheap approach to making money may be fine when backed by a production line, it is destined to lead to disaster when it comes to marketing players in desperate times. The England under- 21 defender Simon Marsh, who left the Manor this week in exchange for pounds 250,000 from Birmingham's bank account, was watching from the bench as Paul Furlong and Gary Rowett knocked in two goals each before the interval.
Martin Grainger made it five 10 minutes after the break, before Peter Ndlovu joined in the goalscoring jamboree in the 72nd minute and Bryan Hughes made it 7-0 before Dean Windass demonstrated the remarkable spirit of all involved with Oxford by claiming some consolation in the last minute.
Those three points and the welcome boost to their goals-scored column aided Birmingham's pursuit of Sunderland, moving them up to fourth place, but the leaders never looked like coming unstuck at home to Port Vale. Goals from Martin Smith, after 24 minutes, and Paul Butler, just before half-time, gave them Sunderland a victory that was just as predictable.
It stretched their lead to seven points, because Barnsley bucked the trend as their recent revival brought them revenge over second-placed Ipswich for their 1-0 defeat four weeks ago. Sean McClare put them ahead at Portman Road and Mike Turner when sure the journey back to Yorkshire would be enjoyable by wrapping up the points in the last minute.
Third-placed Watford welcomed their manager, Graham Taylor, back to Vicarage Road after a five-week absence because of a throat operation with a 4- 2 victory over Stockport. Richard Johnson and Nicholas Wright more or less sealed the points with goals in the first 17 minutes, Johnson netting a deflected volley and Wright burying a header from Peter Kennedy's cross. In the second half Gifton Noel-Williams underlined Watford's superiority with the third and fourth.
Such smooth progress meant there was no real risk to Taylor's tonsils but a whispered "do I not like that" will no doubt have greeted the two late goals that his side allowed County's Brett Angell and Sean Connelly.
Wolverhampton's attempts to muscle in on the scrap for play-off places in the post-McGhee era was kept moving in the right direction by Robbie Keane, who scored twice in the last six minutes of a lively confrontation with Norwich City to earn his side a 2-2 draw at Molineux.
The Canaries took advantage of a controversial penalty to lead at half- time against the run of play. Neil Adams put away the spot kick after Dean Richards was ruled to have fouled Iwan Roberts in the air and Roberts added insult to injury by making it 2-0 after an hour. Colin Lee's side fully deserved Keane's late rescue act.
An early goal by Bob Taylor gave Bolton the points at Tranmere, but Taylor's former club West Bromwich left it late to inflict Huddersfield's first home League defeat of the season. They went home with a 3-0 victory thanks to a burst inspired by James Quinn's goal 16 minutes from time. He scored again five minutes later and that strike was followed by the inevitable goal from Lee Hughes.
At the bottom, Crewe are still five points adrift despite Jermaine Wright's winner at Queen's Park Rangers as Bristol City earned a point at home against Crystal Palace.
Latest in Sport
Paul Scholes: Manchester United vs Liverpool - I don't understand why Brendan Rodgers was not more attacking against Basel
Jesus Christ plays for Chelsea - that's what one in five children thinks
Transfer Talk: Nemanja Vidic to return to Manchester United; Hazard to leave Chelsea; Sunderland want Radamel Falcao
Frank Warren column: Don't bet on Amir Khan landing pay day against Floyd Mayweather
Manchester United transfer news: Kevin Strootman move edges closer
- 2 Harry Potter fans can apply to the Hogwarts-inspired College of Wizardry
- 3 Jessica Chambers: 19-year-old woman 'doused with lighter fluid and burned alive' in the US
- 4 Russell Brand calls Nigel Farage 'poundshop Enoch Powell' in BBC Question Time debate
- 5 Orange Wednesdays are no more
Disgruntled RBS worker writes hilarious open letter to Russell Brand after anti-capitalist publicity stunt leaves him hungry
Nigel Farage defends Kerry Smith 'ch***y' comment: 'If you are going for a Chinese, what do you say you’re going for?'
Nigel Farage's approval rating hits 'record low' as popularity suffers in wake of Ukip sex scandal
Pakistan school attack live: Taliban kill at least 132 children in 'horrifying' massacre
Sony hack: Angelina Jolie branded 'seriously out of her mind' in further embarrassing leaked email saga
Panic Saturday: 13 million Britons spend £1.2bn – while 13 million others across the country live in poverty unable to afford food
£7 - £9 per hour: Recruitment Genius: Are you outgoing? Do you want to work in...
£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An opportunity has arisen for a...
£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An exciting opportunity to join...
£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: We have an excellent role for a...