'We are not out of it by any stretch of the imagination, but this was without question a giant step for us,' Ardiles said. Despite the defeat and his disappointment, Ardiles's South ampton counterpart, Alan Ball, was also upbeat. 'I believe we will be okay. I'm just disappointed that I've gone from euphoria to scratching my head in seven days.' Come, come Mr Ball. You've been in football long enough.
No hope for Swindon Town, though. The end of their brief Premiership sojourn was signalled yesterday, after 39 matches, 20 defeats, only four wins and 92 goals conceded. They lost 4-2 at home to Wimbledon, the club which most enjoys bringing dreamers down to earth. Town join an elite club - members include Northampton Town, Leyton Orient and Carlisle United - of teams relegated after just one season in the most rarified company.
By contrast, Sheffield United gave their prospects of survival a boost by winning at Norwich. Nathan Blake, preferred to Adrian Littlejohn by the Blades manager, Dave Bas sett, obliged with the winner. 'We are back in with a chance now,' Bassett said. 'We won't give up until ten to five on the last Saturday of the season.'
Blake's goal moved Sheffield above Oldham who lost
3-2 at third-placed Newcastle United but they took some subduing. Athletic face three games in five days at the end of the season and they have the best wishes of Newcastle manager Kevin Keegan: 'I would love to see Oldham and Joe Royle stay up. They play good football and attack with conviction. There are worse sides in the Premiership.'
Speaking of which, the Canaries' East Anglian neighbours, Ipswich Town, had culled only three points from the previous eight games before yesterday's match at Hillsbor ough and, true to relegation form, were soundly thrashed,
5-0. 'The pressure is definitely getting to us,' Town's manager Mick McGiven said. 'It's affecting us now in every department.' Their remaining fixtures include Blackburn and Manchester United. Gulp.
Walloped for fines and compensation totalling pounds 125,000 in midweek for inducing Mike Walker to desert Norwich, Everton at least got a point from yesterday's home match against Coventry City. 'It leaves us hanging on the edge,' Walker said. 'There are no short-cuts but if we get one more win, we will be safe.'
Eric Young's goal against Barnsley edged Crystal Palace nearer to the First Division title while the other results will have pleased second-placed Nottingham Forest, who entertain West Bromwich this afternoon. Tranmere took over third place from Millwall, who dropped to fifth after losing 3-2 at Rovers. Reading are one win away from promotion from the Second division.
Other promotion and relegation issues settled yesterday: Peterborough are relegated from the First Division, while Shrewsbury Town and Chester City are promoted from the Third. In Scotland Dundee drop out of the Premier after losing 2-0 at home to Celtic and Stranraer are promoted from the Second Division.Reuse content