Football: Saunders gives Blades edge

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The Independent Online
Two defeats in the preceding week had clearly shaken Sheffield United's confidence for the visit of Swindon Town to Bramall Lane, but Dean Saunders, signed from Nottingham Forest less than two weeks ago, grabbed a late winner to lift the Blades up to third in the Nationwide First Division.

The Robins took an early lead when George Ndah and Stephen Finney took advantage of Michel Vonk's hesitancy in the Sheffield defence and Finney calmly beat Alan Kelly.

The hosts equalised on the stroke of half-time when Brian Deane headed back across goal for David Holdsworth to fire in from close range. With nine minutes left, another Deane lay-back left Saunders to score with a low drive. "I'm relieved to get off the mark," he said. "Hopefully I can now get on a run. I'm happy to be in team that's going the right way."

"We played some good stuff in the second half," Saunders' new manager, Nigel Spackman, said. "At least we are creating chances." The win took the Blades above West Brom who lost 2-0 at Sunderland, the Wearsiders' 11th consecutive game without defeat.

"We have now lost away to the three relegated clubs and I think it is ominous that they have all made their moves," Richie Barker, Albion's caretaker manager, said. But he could shed no light on whether he'll be West Brom's next manager. "I was asked to take over the football affairs. I am happy to do that and I will think about it if I am asked."

Stockport kept up their good home form with a 3-1 win over Tranmere, for whom their player-manager John Aldridge, 39, scored. But County maintained the unbeaten home run, which stretches back to February, with goals by Chris Byrne, Kevin Cooper and Brett Angell's 15th strike of the season.

An injury-time brawl at the end of the match between Bradford City and Bury will see both clubs reported to the FA. "Peter Swan was sent off for deliberately kicking the ball at a Bradford player who was on the floor at the time," the overworked referee, Graham Frankland, said. "Edinho was sent off for the retaliation to that and he also threw a punch at a player." Both clubs will be reported to the FA for the general melee around the dugout area. Oh, and Bradford won the match 1-0.

Finally, congratulations to Fraserburgh of the Highland League who beat Clyde of the Scottish Second Division 1-0 in the first round of the Tennents Cup despite being reduced to 10 men with 82 minutes still to play. Fortunately, they had scored a minute before.

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