Football: Romp for Birmingham


THE First Division fixtures had an air of inevitability yesterday, not least at the Manor Ground where poverty-stricken Oxford United always looked likely to have their unequal struggle put into sharp perspective. Visiting Birmingham City's 7-1 success did just that.

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.

Britain's opposition Labour Party leader Ed Miliband (R) and Boris Johnson, mayor of London, talk on the Andrew Marr show in London April 26
General electionAndrew Marr forced to intervene as Boris and Miliband clash on TV
peoplePair enliven the Emirates bore-draw
Arts and Entertainment
tvPoldark episode 8, review
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Senior Accounts Assistant - Accounts Payable - St. Albans

£26000 - £28000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: Senior Accounts Assistan...

Ashdown Group: Treasury Assistant - Accounts Assistant - London, Old Street

£24000 - £26000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: A highly successful, glo...

Recruitment Genius: Installation and Service / Security Engineer

£22000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company is part of a Group...

Recruitment Genius: Service Charge Accounts Assistant

£16000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you a a young, dynamic pers...

Day In a Page

General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

Marginal Streets project documents voters

Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

The real-life kingdom of Westeros

Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

How to survive a Twitter mauling

Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

At dawn, the young remember the young

A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

Follow the money as never before

Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

Samuel West interview

The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence
Public relations as 'art'? Surely not

Confessions of a former PR man

The 'art' of public relations is being celebrated by the V&A museum, triggering some happy memories for DJ Taylor
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef succumbs to his sugar cravings with super-luxurious sweet treats

Bill Granger's luxurious sweet treats

Our chef loves to stop for 30 minutes to catch up on the day's gossip, while nibbling on something sweet
London Marathon 2015: Paula Radcliffe and the mother of all goodbyes

The mother of all goodbyes

Paula Radcliffe's farewell to the London Marathon will be a family affair
Everton vs Manchester United: Steven Naismith demands 'better' if Toffees are to upset the odds against United

Steven Naismith: 'We know we must do better'

The Everton forward explains the reasons behind club's decline this season
Arsenal vs Chelsea: Praise to Arsene Wenger for having the courage of his convictions

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Praise to Wenger for having the courage of his convictions