Football round-up: Campbell's swoop

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The Independent Online
There are so many fallen giants in the Nationwide First Division that it's beginning to look like football's Brobdingnaggian graveyard. Over 30,000 faithful streamed in to Maine Road to watch Manchester City, Nottingham Forest have spent pounds 15m banking on a quick return to the Premier and at least six other clubs, mostly in the Midlands, can focus their eyes on promotion, via the play-offs,without the need for rose-tinted glasses.

City spoiled their fans' party, drawing 2-2 with Portsmouth, but the result was as much a confirmation of the progress made by Terry Fenwick's side than any malingering by Frank Clark's team. Pompey took the lead after five minutes when the new signing John Aloisi finished from close range after Fitzroy Simpson's hopeful high ball.

Uwe Rosler, six yards out, turned in Ged Brannan's cross 10 minutes later and 10 minutes into the second half the Dutch midfielder, Gerrard Wiekens, City's impressive debutee, made it 2-1. But as City relaxed, Paul Hall levelled for Pompey from Alan McLoughlin's low cross.

Kevin Campbell scored a hat-trick for Forest on the opening day of last term. This turned out to be half of his total for the entire season as Forest were demoted. Worryingly for superstitious Forest fans, Campbell scored the only goal in yesterday's win at Port Vale .

"Vale were no pushover and it was hard for us in the heat," Steve Stone, Forest's England midfielder, said after his return. His manager, Dave Bassett, was "irritated at the way Port Vale are written off. I knew it would be a difficult game. They made us work hard and with six debutants in the side we need time to settle."

Having spent a small fortune to win promotion in the Nineties, Wolves won at Norwich City thanks to a 17-year-old YTS graduate - Robbie Keane, a Republic of Ireland youth international. A 25-yard volley and composed finish from six yards after beating a defender set up Wolves' comfortable 2-0 win.

None of the sides promoted into the First Division won. Bury fared best, gaining a point in a 1-1 home draw with Reading. Stockport County, under new manager Gary Megson, lost 2-1 at Bradford City, Crewe Alexandra lost their first-ever match at this level, 2-0 at Swindon Town.

In the Second Division, Wigan Athletic have been tipped to "do a Bury" and go through in a season. Certainly their 5-2 thrashing of Wycombe Wanderers was a confident enough start, with Brendan O'Connell scoring a hat-trick. (At this point over-confident Latics' fans should refer back to the Forest paragraph.)

Many sides in this section are under new management: Blackpool and Millwall made Nigel Worthington and Billy Bonds' days with good wins over Luton Town and Brentford while Southend United and Grimsby Town gave Alvin Martin and Alan Buckley a point start. But Chris Waddle's Burnley lost 1-0 at Watford.

Nationwide newcomers Macclesfield got off to a winning Third Division start beating visitors Torquay United 2-1. Efetobore Sodje and Richard Landon scored the Silkmen's goals.

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