Football: Rosler calms Royle nerves

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LIKE men waking up on a fast-sinking ship in mid-Atlantic, the players of Portsmouth and Manchester City at last seem to be responding to their precarious position at the bottom of the First Division. Both bailed out of the relegation places yesterday with 1-0 home wins.

Uwe Rosler's seventh goal of the season was enough for City to beat West Bromwich Albion at Maine Road. Again without Georgi Kinkladze, the Sky Blues relied on Peter Beardsley, on loan from Bolton, to spark them, but it was Lee Bradbury who set up Rosler with a neat nod-down from Kit Symons' centre.

Relieved to see his second win in four games in charge, and City's first home win in almost 10 weeks, their manager, Joe Royle, said: "I won't kid myself that it was pretty. I could feel the crowd's apprehension. I looked round at one stage and they looked more nervous than I did. Now it's another nail-biter at Huddersfield on Tuesday, I don't know why I do these things."

Portsmouth won their fourth consecutive game when John Aloisi, put through the Tranmere defence by Michalis Vlachos, Pompey's impressive Greek international midfielder, finished clinically. "There's a nice marriage between the players and the supporters which has really helped," Alan Ball, the Pompey manager, said.

Those wins dumped Stoke and Port Vale, who meet in the Potteries derby today, and Huddersfield, beaten 1-0 at Charlton, into the relegation zone. Charlton's win ended a good week for the Londoners. Following six games without a win, their push for a play-off place recovered with wins in four days against Stoke and, yesterday, Hudders-field, Mark Bright scoring the only goal 11 minutes from time.

After the thrill of an FA Cup win over Wimbledon, Wolves bumped back to earth, beaten by Birmingham 3-1 at Molineux. Peter Ndlovu scored twice as Brum went sixth. Trevor Francis, the Blues manager, helped his side recover from their midweek defeat by Bury thus: "I abandoned all serious training yesterday and we had some fun. It was a case of picking the players up. They were very low." The remedy worked.

Two goals by Gareth Taylor gave fifth-placed Sheffield United the points against Bradford in a 2-1 win. His first was inadvertently set up when Eddie Youds' clearance hit referee Roger Furnandiz on the head. The ball spun 25 yards to Taylor who chested it down to fire in a low shot. "I've never seen a goal like that before," Nigel Spackman, the Blades manager, said, "but it came at the right time for us." And does that mean the ref gets a win bonus?