Football round-up Forest find winning touch

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The Independent Online
Nottingham Forest went back to the top of the First Division with a 1-0 home win over Portsmouth, their first victory in five matches, but their manager Dave Bassett is not opening the champagne. "We're not kidding ourselves. There are a lot of teams with games in hand on us and we still have a lot of work to do before we can start to celebrate."

Pierre van Hooijdonk scored the only goal in a one-sided first half, running on to Dean Saunders' through-ball for his eighth goal of the season.

Trevor Francis, the Birmingham manager, blamed individual errors for his side's 3-1 defeat at Middlesbrough. Over 27,000 in the Riverside Stadium saw Vladimir Kinder, Mikkel Beck and Emerson give Boro a 3-0 first-half lead. "Their first goal was down to our goalkeeper, Ian Bennett, the second was down to Gary Ablett. Yet they have been our most consistent performers in recent games," a generous Francis said. The Boro defender Steve Vickers was taken to hospital with suspected broken ribs.

An even bigger crowd, over 30,000, saw Sunderland players score twice at the Stadium of Light but the Wearsiders only drew 1-1 with Wolves. Andy Melville's own goal equalised Martin Smith's opener. "I am getting like a gramophone record saying we have not stuck our chances away," Peter Reid, the home side's manager, said. His Wolves counterpart, Mark McGhee, was happier. "Considering the defensive problems we have had through injury, to come here and concede only one goal is not bad."

Manchester City were booed off the pitch at Maine Road after a 2-1 home defeat by Norwich. They had taken the lead through Lee Bradbury's first goal for them but woeful defending let them down.

There were good away wins for Sheffield United, 4-2 at Oxford who had Bobby Ford sent off, resurgent QPR, 3-2 at Crewe, and Stoke, 3-2 at Ipswich, while second-placed Swindon drew 0-0 at third-placed West Brom. "It is early days but this is something to build on," the Robins' manager, Steve McMahon, said. "Considering we have five men out we are not in a bad position."

Stockport County got their first First Division win at the expense of the bottom club Huddersfield Town, Brett Angell scored twice in the 3- 0 victory, while Tranmere Rovers scored five goals in 41 minutes against Reading, as many as they had managed in the seven previous League games. They won 6-0.

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