Football / Round-Up: Royals' bad week

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The Independent Online
UNEASY rests the head that wears the crown. A common enough theme these days perhaps and, as if to prove that football does indeed reflect life at all strata, the Royals received yet another rude shock yesterday. Newly-promoted Reading were all but impregnable at Elm Park and riding high in second place in the Endsleigh First Division. But they conceded their first goal at home in 759 minutes when Sunderland's Andy Melville rose to head home Martin Smith's free-kick. The Wearsiders went on to a treasonable 2-0 win.

The Royals can take comfort in the knowledge that it was a bad day for leaders almost everywhere. The Division's pacesetters, Wolves, were leading Millwall 3-1 with six minutes to go but Richard Cadette, down south after scoring freely for Falkirk, and Jon Goodman's second of the game salvaged a point for the Lions.

Two goals by Lee Nogan were enough for Watford to beat third-placed Tranmere at Vicarage Road and Burnley, without a win at home, won their third away match, at Charlton. 'We've done well on our travels points-wise but not performance-wise,' their puzzled manager, Jimmy Mullen, said. 'We changed our tactics today, playing two up front, and it worked.'

A close run thing at the County Ground where a last minute strike by Jan Age Fjortoft - he scored twice in the last six minutes last week - gave Swindon a point from the 2-2 draw with in-form Southend. Goal of the match was Ricky Otto's, picking the ball up on halfway and beating two men before unleashing an unstoppable left-foot drive.

Luton, who thrashed Middlesbrough 5-1 last week, beat Sheffield United 3-1 at Bramall Lane after going a goal behind. More than 200 Blades' fans demonstrated against the Board after the match while the manager Dave Bassett lambasted his players. 'I can make changes, I can get rid of some of them and I will make sure that some of them get sacked before they get me sacked,' he promised.

The Second Division leaders, Huddersfield, also drew 3-3, at Crewe, and second- placed Oxford lost at Wrexham. But the section's most spectacular result was Plymouth's 4-2 win at Stockport, despite having goalkeeper Alan Nicholls sent off for a second bookable offence. Wycombe won at Peterborough to go third.

In the Third Division, Carlisle crushed Barnet 4-0 to keep the pressure on leaders Bury who beat Gillingham 3-2, John Paskin scoring twice. Doncaster, 1-0 winners at Mansfield, moved up to third.

Even Rangers in Scotland were not immune. Two goals by Motherwell's Doug Arnott beat them and they also had Craig Moore sent off in the first half.

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