Football: Round up: Promotion celebrations begin in earnest

Click to follow
The Independent Online
THE MAY Day festivities in Cardiff, Brentford and Walsall received a considerable boost just after 4.45pm yesterday when the promotion celebrations at the local Nationwide clubs began in earnest. Second Division Walsall claimed the second automatic promotion berth behind Fulham with 3-1 defeat of Oldham Athletic.

Cardiff City and Brentford confirmed their upwardly mobile status from the Third Division by gaining the necessary points in front of their own fans. At Ninian Park, a goalless draw with Scunthorpe United was enough to ensure promotion for the Welsh side while Brentford beat Exeter City 3-0 at Griffin Park to join them.

But in the First Division, the automatic promotion issue will go to the last match. Second-placed Bradford City were held to a goalless draw by relegation-threatened Oxford United and could lose the cherished place to Ipswich Town if the Suffolk side beat Birmingham City at St Andrews this afternoon.

Bradford started brightly and Lee Mills, their leading scorer, went close, but the Bantams lost the initiative and Joey Beauchamp, for the visitors, forced Gary Walsh into a save. Near half-time the Bradford captain, Stuart McCall, almost reached Dean Windass's cross for the goal which would calm Bradford nerves but Oxford held on for a precious point.

For Bradford, the season now hinges on Ipswich's game at Brum today and a tricky trip to Wolverhampton Wanderers for their last match of the season while Ipswich will have a slightly easier task, though no les nerve-racking, at home to Sheffield United.

Bristol City's fight is over, however. They went down 3-1 at Bramall Lane as Sheffield United sent them back into the Second Division where they can recommence the Bristol derbies against Rovers. Lee Morris's two goals for the Blades will have been a warning to Ipswich.

An 89th-minute equaliser by Barnsley's Eric Tinkler, who was on hand to shoot in after Scott Jones' 40-yard free-kick thumped back off the bar, robbed Graham Taylor's Watford of a seventh consecutive win. The point from the 2-2 draw kept the Hornets en route for a play-off place.

Crewe Alexandra's escape from relegation looks complete following their 3-1 defeat of Portsmouth at Gresty Road, Colin Little scoring twice. Port Vale won their relegation scrap with Queen's Park Rangers, 2-0, and the London side is now staring over the abyss, with Bury, beaten by a late Fabian De Freitas goal at West Bromwich Albion, peering by their side.

The First Division champions, Sunderland, passed the 100 points mark when they beat Stockport County 1-0 thanks to a 56th-minute goal from their newly capped England striker, Kevin Phillips.

In the Second Division's play-offs, Preston North End were held to a 1-1 draw by Notts County but Gillingham thrashed Stoke City 4-0, Robert Taylor scoring twice. Bournemouth won 1-0 at York City but Wigan Athletic's surge continued with a 2-0 win at Wrexham. They still have two games in hand on the teams ahead of them.

At the bottom, Macclesfield gave themselves fresh hope with a 2-1 win at Luton Town, where the Hatters, in receivership, are under threat of something significantly worse than relegation.

Finally, the Football Conference call for Scarborough was postponed for a while by their 2-1 win at Halifax after Graeme Atkinson and Stephen Brodie scored in the first nine minutes.