Football: Shearer shapes up

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Swindon Town. . . . .1

Blackburn Rovers. . .3

SWINDON are starting to loathe the label of likeable losers, but will continue to wear it until they can cultivate a meaner spirit than they showed yesterday.

After enjoying more than their share of the first half at the County Ground, they declared open house in the second. That their quest for a first Premiership victory did not bring an even heavier defeat was due to Fraser Digby, who made a string of excellent saves.

The match programme told of a confused radio man in Hong Kong who has been telling his listeners that Swindon, rather than Sweden, are on their way to the United States for the World Cup. Poor Digby must have thought his defence had taken it at face value and left already. He could do little about a perfectly weighted ball slid into the area by Alan Shearer for Stuart Ripley to put Blackburn 2-1 ahead.

Shearer had given Blackburn their initial lead after being supplied by Warhurst. The loss of Warhurst with a cracked fibula then disrupted Blackburn's flow and Swindon made the better chances, their main threat coming from the aerial power of the centre back, Shaun Taylor. He equalised with a firm header after Nicky Summerbee's corner had been nodded on by Terry Fenwick.

The second half was all Blackburn versus Digby, who was booked rather than sent off when he up-ended Shearer. The next time Shearer got the goalkeeper in his sights there was no reprieve. On his way to a glorious individual goal, the resurgent England striker tied Luc Nijholt in several types of knot, making him one Dutchman with no doubts about his readiness to face Holland.

Swindon Town (4-4-2): F Digby; L Nijholt, T Fenwick, S Taylor, P Bodin; N Summerbee (R MacLaren, 72 min), J Moncur, M Hazard, M Ling; S White (J A Fjortoft, 72 min), A Mutch. Sub not used: N Hammond (gk). Manager: J Gorman.

Blackburn Rovers (4-4-2): B Mimms; H Berg, D May, K Moran, G Le Saux; S Ripley, T Sherwood, P Warhurst (N Marker, 26 min), J Wilcox; K Gallacher (P Atkins, 76 min), A Shearer. Sub not used: F Talia (gk). Manager: K Dalglish.

Referee: D Frampton (Poole).

Goals: Shearer (0-1, 14 min); Taylor (1-1, 31 min); Ripley (1-2, 50 min); Shearer (1-3, 88 min).