Football Round-Up: Sinclair strike sinks Stoke

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The Independent Online
FOR SOME years now the only thing Blackpool has celebrated has been the annual switch-on of the seafront illuminations and the presentation of the Mrs Gamp Landlady Of The Year Award. Great deeds yesterday, though, when the men of Bloomfield Road went south to the Potteries and inflicted the first home league defeat of the season on Stoke City, hitherto rampant leaders of the Second Division. After Blackpool's midweek 5-1 demolition of Hull City, the result augurs well for their fight against relegation. Trevor Sinclair scored yesterday's winner in the 89th minute.

PORT VALE, second to Stoke, won 1-0 at Hull City courtesy of a Ray Walker goal 13 minutes from time, cutting Stoke's lead to a mere seven points. Stockport County, third, beat Plymouth Argyle in a sizzler at Home Park. Argyle led three times but could not keep up with County's leading scorer, Kevin Francis, who completed his hat-trick nine minutes from time in a 4-3 win. Bolton consolidated their play-off place - Andy Walker's 29th goal of the season was good enough to beat Fulham - but home defeats for Leyton Orient and Brighton let in Reading, who beat Bournemouth.

LUTON relied on the venerable Kerry Dixon in their First division relegation scrap with Cambridge United and he duly repaid their trust with a smart strike after 20 minutes. Thirty minutes later, Scott Oakes made the points safe with the Hatters' second goal.

RANGERS resumed their stately procession to another Premier Division title in Scotland with a 3-0 win over Dundee, which included the usual Ally McCoist goal. Celtic, doubtless still thrilled by last week's win over Rangers, had another good win, 3-2 at Dundee United, but Aberdeen laboured to beat lowly Motherwell 1-0 at Pittodrie.

In the First Division, second- placed Dunfermline were 2-0 down with 25 minutes to go at home to Kilmarnock, who were third, but two goals in as many minutes won a share of the spoils. Leaders Raith Rovers were held goalless at Ayr United but maintain their nine-point advantage.

THREE successive wins since David Sullivan bought the club have eased Birmingham City out of the First Division relegation zone and their next two matches could have a profound effect on the promotion issue. Next Saturday, they entertain West Ham, but this afternoon they go to leaders Newcastle United. 'It's going to be like the Alamo,' their manager, Terry Cooper, said, 'but I've got to be encouraged by the way we played the other night. We are not out of trouble yet, but at least we've got a chance now.'

BRIDLINGTON Town reached Wembley for the second time in three years after beating Gresley Rovers in the FA Vase semi-final yesterday. Bridlington, beaten finalists in 1990, trailed to a Martin Devaney goal but Graeme Jones's equaliser made their 2-1 home leg win decisive. In the final on 8 May they meet Tiverton Town. The Devon club lost 1-0 at Canvey Island, but Les Marshall's second- half goal was not enough to overturn a 2-0 first-leg deficit. Aldershot Town sealed promotion from the Diadora League Third Division with a 2-0 win at Tring.

JEAN-PIERRE PAPIN earned France a 1-0 win over Austria in their World Cup qualifier in Vienna. Papin collected a pass in his own half and drew the goalkeeper out of his goal, keeping France at the top of Group Six.