Football: Royal blushes

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The Independent Online
Chris Kamara's Bradford City are turning out to be the surprise act in the First Division after their comprehensive 3-0 defeat of Reading at Elm Park. Unbeaten, the Bantams are now second and are keeping the momentum going from last season's successful struggle, in which they just avoided relegation.

Yesterday, the Royals, as troubled as their nickname suggests, were in contention for 10 minutes. But once Bradford's Jamie Lawrence headed in Peter Beagrie's cross, only one side looked like winners. The former York midfielder Nigel Pepper scored twice; the Royals are bottom.

"In the second half we were knocking it about for fun and I had a bit of a go at the lads at the end of the game for slacking off," Kamara, Bradford's demanding manager, said. "Scoring three goals away from home is great but we could have had five or six."

A hat-trick by Pierre Van Hooijdonk was the highlight at the City Ground as Nottingham Forest kept their 100 per cent start going with a 4-0 thrashing of Queen's Park Rangers. Rangers fell behind in first-half injury time when the former Celtic striker fired in from Chris Bart-Williams' corner. Five minutes into the second half, the Dutchman lost his marker to head in Dean Saunders' cross at the far post and two minutes from the end, Saunders, who scored Forest's third, set up Van Hooijdonk's hat-trick.

"We are doing very well at the moment," Dave Bassett, the Forest manager, said, "because everyone is working hard and that's the way we've got to keep it. We could easily have had more [goals] to show for our efforts."

Wolves went some way to laying the ghost of last season's preposterous home form by beating the First Division newcomers Bury 4-2 at Molineux. It was the Shakers' first defeat of the season. "We shot ourselves in the foot four times," hobbling Stan Ternent, the Bury manager, said. "We can take a lot from this game except what we wanted - points." The win cost Wolves, defender Steve Sedgley suffering cartilage damage. They now have four crocked centre-backs.

Manchester City and Sunderland doze on. City lost 2-1 at Charlton Athletic while the Wearsiders dominated but lost 1-0 at their new Stadium of Light to Norwich City. "When the Sunderland fans started booing after 30 minutes, it was music to my ears," Mike Walker, the Canaries' manager, said. "We took a bit of a battering but I can't help it if the opposition miss chances. I still say we will be a threat eventually this season."

Finally, Sir Stanley Matthews officially opened Stoke City's new ground, Britannia Stadium, and in the 34th minute of the game against Swindon Town, the Potters' Richard Forsyth scored the first goal there. The hosts then passed up several chances to increase their lead, tired, and Swindon turned party-poopers to win 2-1.

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