Football round-up: Kelly shows eye for goal

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The Independent Online
ON a day when freezing conditions forced the postponement of 12 league matches in England, including Liverpool's visit to Oldham and Nottingham Forest against Queen's Park Rangers in the Premier, the sound of Barclays League leaders consolidating was resounding.

In the First Division, Newcastle United, whose manager, Kevin Keegan, will be offered a five-year contract if they are promoted, beat inconsistent Wolves 2-1 at St James' Park. A goal in each half from the striker David Kelly, after Paul Cook had given Wolves the lead just past the half-hour, brought the Magpies a week closer to the Premier League.

Keegan, meanwhile, refused to confirm that he had bid pounds 3.3m for the QPR striker, Les Ferdinand. 'We are still looking for forward power,' he said. 'Someone who is as good or better than what we already have.' Kelly's thoughts are best left to the imagination.

SPEAKING of forward power, Guy Whittingham, the Portsmouth goalscorer for whom the word prolific scarcely seems adequate, struck another four yesterday as Pompey ended the recent revival of Bristol Rovers under Malcolm Allison. The quadruple took his total for the season to 27.

Perhaps even more surprising was the failure to score of the division's other goal machine, Tranmere's John Aldridge. John Morrissey gave Rovers the lead at Prenton Park, but Millwall's Jon Goodman equalised three minutes into the second half as the Lions followed last Sunday's draw at Newcastle with another impressive away point. Third-placed West Ham also drew away, at The Valley, where Charlton Athletic, the former Upton Park tenants, recovered from Julian Dicks's 10th-minute strike - John Bumstead levelled 11 minutes from time.

STOKE CITY increased their lead at the top of the Second Division with a single goal win at Reading, the former Plymouth striker, Dave Regis, obliging. Paul Raven bagged a pair for West Brom as they moved up to second with a 2-0 win over lowly Chester. Leyton Orient failed to win at home in the league for only the second time this season but their unbeaten record held firm in the 0-0 draw with Fulham.

YORK, leaders of the Third, have been gasping for their second wind of late and got no respite in the first half at Ninian Park as Cardiff City sped into a 3-0 lead. But three goals in eight minutes pulled a point out of the fire. Comeback of the day, however, belongs to Doncaster. Two-nil down at Halifax with two minutes to go, Steve Richards scored in the 89th and 90th minutes to grab a point at The Shay. To add insult, Richards joined Doncaster on a free from Halifax in the summer.

IN SCOTLAND, Rangers' double act - former England international Mark Hateley and Scots striker Ally McCoist - shared the goals in a 3-1 win. Only second- placed Aberdeen could keep pace. But they had the easiest task, beating bottom club Motherwell 2-0 at Fir Park. Fourth-placed Hearts dropped a point at home to Partick but Celtic lost 1-0 at home to Dundee United, Duncan Ferguson snatching the winner a minute before half-time. Celtic remain third but are now eight points adrift.

A CROWD of almost five thousand were kept warm at Woking's Kingfield Stadium by an authoritative display from the GM Vauxhall Conference's runaway leaders, Wycombe Wanderers. Steve Guppy gave them the lead 11 minutes before half-time and doubled it a minute into the second period. Keith Scott added a third, four minutes from the end, as Wanderers stretched their lead to 12 points.

AFTER a tentative start in the First Division, Brentford are beginning to live with their wealthier brethren in a degree of comfort. At Griffin Park yesterday, two goals at the end of the first half caught out Derby County, and despite Paul Kitson's goal 20 minutes from time the Bees held on to the three points.

Southend, promoted with Brentford last May, are not finding life quite so easy. Andy Sussex gave them the lead against Watford at Roots Hall with a 21st-minute penalty. But the Hornets revival started shortly after the second-half whistle when Jason Soloman equalised. Just after the hour, Ken Charlery, the former Maidstone striker bought from Peterborough for pounds 350,000, scored the visitors' second, leaving Southend rooted at the bottom of the division.