Football: Svensson primes the chimes

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The Independent Online
The tuning up has been clamorous, lasting for several seasons, but the early signs are that Pompey chimes are ready to ring out again as Portsmouth followed last weekend's 2-2 draw at Maine Road with a 3- 1 win over Port Vale at Fratton Park.

John Aloisi, one of a six-pack of Australians Terry Venables, the Aussie national coach and Pompey chairman, has put at the disposal of his manager, Terry Fenwick, opened the scoring for the second consecutive Saturday. The Vale defender Dean Glover bungled a backheader to goalkeeper Paul Musselwhite and Aloisi snapped up the gift.

Mathias Svensson slid in at the far post to make it 2-0 after 38 minutes but Stewart Talbot pulled one back for Vale five minutes later. The discord lasted only two minutes into the second half when Svensson scored his second.

Only two points had separated runners-up Stockport County and the Second Division champions Bury at the end of last season and there was precious little to chose between them again in a dour, best-forgotten rematch at Edgeley Park which ended goalless. "Our performance was 500 per cent better than at Mansfield in midweek," the County manager, Gary Megson, said. "We fought fire with fire." In that heat?

Charlton Athletic's season had to get better. Beaten at Middlesbrough last Saturday by Fabrizio Ravanelli's 90th-minute goal, they lost 1-0 at home to Ipswich Town in midweek - "We can't possibly play that badly again," Alan Curbishley, a manager clearly not afraid to tempt providence, said. Yesterday they beat Oxford United 3-2 at The Valley, but managed to concede another 90th-minute goal.

Injuries forced Curbishley to make 16-year-old full-back Paul Konchesky the club's youngest-ever first team player. "While Arsenal and Chelsea have eight or nine foreigners, kids come here and I'll give them their chance."

In the Second Division, Bournemouth and Watford are the early pacemakers after two wins out of two while Notts County and Scunthorpe have six points from their opening games to head the first Third Division.

The season's first "sack the board" chorus was heard at Belle Vue where Kerry Dixon's Doncaster encored an 8-0 midweek Coca-Cola cup home defeat with a 5-0 thrashing by Peterborough United.

For much of last season it seemed that Macclesfield, the eventual Conference champions, would replace Brighton in the Nationwide. The Seagulls survived and, with some irony, their first league match as tenants at Gillingham's Priestfield Stadium was against Sammy McIlroy's Silkmen. It finished 1- 1.