Football Round-up: Vale of fears for Norwich

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The Independent Online
A period of unseasonably sober reflection faces Norwich City after a 6-1 thrashing at Port Vale which came all too hard on the heels of their midweek 5-1 reverse at West Bromwich Albion. After that game, Mike Walker, the Canaries' manager, had warned he might sell 11 players. How he must rue not carrying out the threat.

Vale were 2-0 up by half-time but by then their top scorer, Tony Naylor, had taken a knock and was replaced by Martin Foyle. If Norwich sensed respite they were swiftly disabused of the notion as Foyle scored twice and Stuart Talbot added his second in the face of powder-puff resistance.

Wolves' baffling season continued with their seventh away win, a statistic which makes a mockery of their lamentable home form. The 2-0 defeat of Tranmere came thanks to a Simon Osborn penalty after Shaun Teale handled and the inevitable Steve Bull strike. He picked up the scraps as the ball spun free from Don Goodman's challenge on Teale.

The 87th-minute winner by Crystal Palace's Neil Shipperley, which won the London derby against Charlton at Selhurst Park and kept Palace in fourth place, sorely tested the patience of the Robins' manager, Alan Curbishley. "Our defeat was down to an individual error when Mike Salmon seemed to have saved Shipperley's late shot but pushed the ball into his own net.

"It is another game thrown away and I am sick of other coaches sympathising with us and saying that we should have won. It has got to stop." Shipperley's goal was an early bird compared with Bob Taylor's injury-time strike which gave West Brom a point from a thrilling 3-3 draw with Oxford at the Hawthorns.

"We have got to stop letting in goals for fun," the unappreciative Oxford manager, Denis Smith, said. "That is five in two games." Alan Buckley, his opposite number, was more upbeat. "I thought we created the better chances and competed well. A draw was probably a fair result."

A controversial free-kick on the stroke of half-time by Daniele Dichio, the Queen's Park Rangers' striker, set up the Londoners' 2-1 win at Huddersfield. The referee, Chris Foy, appeared to be still getting Town's defensive wall back 10 yards when Dichio curled the ball into the net.

Manchester City's descent continued with a 2-1 defeat at Oldham. Georgi Kinkladze had already missed a penalty when he gave City a 37th-minute lead but Ian Ormondroyd and Nicky Banger scored to keep Athletic climbing.

In Scotland, Rangers consolidated their grip on a ninth Premier Division title with a 4-1 win at Hearts, who had Neil Pointon sent off at the end of the first half. Rangers' lead is 14 points.