Football Round-Up: Merson winner foils Ipswich

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The Independent Online
ARSENAL prepared for their forthcoming Cup Finals against Sheffield Wednesday by resting the blessed Tony Adams, martyr of Izmir, for the Premier match against Ipswich Town at Portman Road and giving Martin Keown a rare outing at centre-back. Town's defence got their disarray in first, Alan Smith duly heading the Gunners in front after 95 seconds, the fastest goal of the week. But Keown soon settled to his work and fouled Chris Kiwomya, allowing John Wark to equalise from the penalty spot. After the break, Paul Merson scored Arsenal's winner. Ipswich, dropping like a stone, are without a win in 12 games.

Southampton's Nicky Banger scored four minutes into the second half to beat Chelsea 1-0 in a bright match at the Dell which had little bearing on pertinent Premier positions.

SWINDON TOWN kept in touch with the First Division promotion play-offs with a narrow 1-0 home win over Luton Town. Without suspended strikers David Mitchell and Steve White, Glenn Hoddle put Craig Maskell and Shaun Close in attack but, as against Peterborough United last Saturday, Paul Bodin scored the only goal.

STOKE CITY and Port Vale, in the Second Division's automatic promotion places, and West Bromwich Albion and Bolton Wanderers, their closest pursuers, all won. Brighton's 3-1 win at Burnley lifted them into the play- off places as both Leyton Orient and Reading lost. At the bottom, Chester City are doomed by all but pernickety mathematicians.

IN THE Third Division, Cardiff City lost 3-1 at York City but indefatigable Barnet beat Scarborough Town at Underhill to go back to the top of the table. Who needs Barry Fry? Well, First Division Southend United clearly do. They picked up another valuable point under his stewardship (two wins and a draw so far) after the goalless game at Watford and move above Cambridge United.

FOR THE second time in two weeks, Ruud Gullit scored a late equaliser to give the Serie A champions and leaders AC Milan another point as they inch towards the title. Yesterday's goal was the sweeter, coming four minutes from the end of their important San Siro derby against second- placed Internazionale. The Dutch international, despite many injuries to and operations on his knees, has scored seven goals in 12 games this season. Milan remain seven points clear.

HAIL Raith Rovers, promoted to the Scottish Premier Division after yesterday's 2-0 win over Dumbarton at Starks Park. The kick- off was delayed by 10 minutes due to the crush of Rovers fans who have rediscovered their faith in Raith. Craig Brewster gave them a 27th-minute lead, Dumbarton's Paul Martin was sent off two minutes later and Brewster scored another shortly after the restart. Raith could even afford to miss a retaken penalty.

In the Premier, of course, Rangers are as processional as Raith, John Brown's 86th-minute goal beating Motherwell while their closest rivals, now 10 points adrift, all drew.

WYCOMBE WANDERERS remain on course for a GM Vauxhall Conference and FA Trophy double after emphatically overturning a first-leg deficit in their Trophy semi-final. Trailing 3-2 to Sutton United after last weekend's home leg, the Conference leaders strolled to a sweet

4-0 success. The centre-back Matt Crossley netted from two corners, while Keith Scott and Dave Carroll added one apiece. Their opponents at Wembley on 9 May will be Runcorn, who lost 1-0 at Witton Albion but triumphed 2-1 on aggregate.

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