Football: That was the weekend that was

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Keeper Bracey finds no helping hand

HAD THE Hull City goalkeeper Lee Bracey been watching Match of the Day on Saturday evening, he may have looked on in bafflement after Nigel Martyn, his Leeds counterpart, was shown the yellow card by referee Barry Knight in the match against Newcastle.

Martyn one was adjudged to have handled the ball outside the penalty area - precisely the offence for which Bracey was sent off in Hull's Worthington Cup tie at Liverpool last week.

Staffordshire referee John Brandwood dismissed Bracey after 36 minutes of Tuesday's match and even Gerard Houllier, the Liverpool manager, said he believed the decision was harsh.

Hull, beaten 5-1 at home in the first leg of the tie, were behind only 1-0 at the time of the incident but the red card meant a second dose of Anfield agony for 31-year-old Bracey. "The last time I was there I let in eight playing for Swansea in 1990. I was determined to exorcise that ghost and then this happens," he said.

The Barking-born player, who began his career with West Ham and arrived at Hull via Ipswich, was not convinced he had touched the ball in any event. "I reckoned it hit my chest and then my thigh," he said. "I couldn't believe the decision. There was anger, tears and disappointment."

Matt Baker, Bracey's 19-year-old understudy, took over between the posts and Liverpool went on to win 4-2 for a 9-3 aggregate.

Now Bracey will wait to learn if Brandwood receives a wigging from his masters for being too sensitive or Knight for being too lenient. Dare it be suggested that the rules applied to England goalkeepers and to Third Division journeymen are not necessarily the same?

Mansfield fans take their club to market

MANSFIELD TOWN'S 4-0 win over Shrewsbury on Friday evening could not have been better timed as far as the Third Division club's frustrated supporters were concerned. It was just the kind of positive publicity they were seeking before their main weekend business - in a marquee in the Nottinghamshire town's marketplace.

The supporters were hoping to persuade shoppers looking over the fruit and vegetable stalls to consider another purchase, namely a share in the ownership of their beleaguered club.

It is all part of a campaign launched by a group calling themselves Team Mansfield, who are determined to end the club's recent financial troubles, during which they have been barred from making new signings and had players on the verge of strike action over unpaid wages.

In only eight weeks since announcing their plans at a public meeting in the town, Team Mansfield has acquired more than 500 members. The aim of Saturday's stall was to lift that figure towards 1,000.

The group are setting up a trust fund to protect investors' money. Once that is in place, they will approach the chairman, Keith Haslam, with proposals for a buy-out.

WHINGE OF THE WEEK

`He seems to have developed the fine art of falling over like a sack of spuds.'

The Aston Villa manager, John Gregory, on Emile Heskey, after Villa's captain, Gareth Southgate, was dismissed for bringing the Leicester forward down at Filbert Street on Saturday.

Forgotten man... Face of the future

Robert Molenaar

Leeds United

AN INSTANT favourite after joining Leeds from FC Volendam in January 1997, the imposing 30-year-old stopper has been missing from David O'Leary's side since last December because of cruciate ligament damage. Molenaar hopes to begin his comeback next January but now faces stiff competition for a first-team place from Michael Duberry and Jonathon Woodgate. "It will be hard to get back in the side but I have had many letters of encouragement," he said. "Yorkshire people are very warm."

Stefan Oakes

Leicester City

WITH LEICESTER back in Premiership action, 21-year-old Stefan was back on bench-warming duty on Saturday but still revelling in his two-goal performance against Crystal Palace in the Worthington Cup last week, when only a rushed penalty attempt - his second of the night - denied him a hat-trick. Born into a showbusiness family - his father played with Showaddywaddy - the right-sided midfielder is the younger brother of Sheffield Wednesday's Scott, who also began his career with Leicester.

RUMOURS

Bald Eagle preparing a swoop for Carbone

DESPITE THE accusations levelled at him by the Sheffield Wednesday chairman, Dave Richards, at least one Premiership rival is prepared to take a chance with Benito Carbone, according to the News of the World, which reckons Derby's Jim Smith is ready with a pounds 2.5m bid for the Italian.

The same paper says another Italian could be on the way out of the Premiership, suggesting that Grasshoppers of Zurich - now managed by Roy Hodgson - have lined up Chelsea's Swiss-born Roberto Di Matteo as a pounds 4m target. The Sunday Mirror, meanwhile, believes that the Chelsea manager, Gianluca Vialli, has been trying to interest his former Juventus team-mate Roberto Baggio in a move to Stamford Bridge from Internazionale.

The Mail on Sunday says debts of pounds 130m will not stop Real Madrid offering Roy Keane a pounds 15m, five-year package when the Irishman's future is determined next year.

The Everton striker Danny Cadamarteri could be part of a pounds 3m swap deal with Marcus Stewart of Huddersfield, according to The People, which reports also that Aston Villa's Paul Merson wants to return to London. They feel Fulham could land the midfielder for pounds 2m, while The Mirror names the ambitious Craven Cottage club as a possible destination for Liverpool's Karl-Heinz Riedle.

Liverpool themselves are linked by The Mirror with Claus Jensen, the Danish midfielder rated at pounds 3m by Bolton and who is supposedly a target for Leicester City as well.

CARD CHECK

Paul Alcock's sending-off of Paul Gascoigne for offensive remarks to a linesman at the Riverside gave the referee a count of four red cards already this season - only one fewer than his tally for the whole of last season.

Arsenal's win over Watford was their first card-free performance of the season. David Batty, of Leeds, picked up his fifth card in 12 matches - four yellow, plus red for England - while Derby's Esteban Fuertes has three yellows and a red in seven games.

NET MINDER

`I'm hoping for an away draw in the Worthington Cup. Then we will not have another home game for nearly three weeks and by then, hopefully, I'll be able to start writing again.'

Martin O'Neill, Leicester's manager, quoted on his club's official website about the reported gag on his programme notes. (http://www.lcfc.co.uk)

KEY NUMBERS

12

Fulham's unbeaten start to the season, matching the club record run of games without defeat at the beginning of the 1958-59 season.

20

The total players sent off in this season's Premiership following Saturday's five.

50

The number of League matches since Sheffield United fans last endured a goalless draw.

517

The number of minutes since Sheffield Wednesday last scored in the Premiership.

Team Of The Weekend

DAVID BECKHAM

Manchester United

DWIGHT YORKE

Manchester United

GARY PALLISTER

Middlesbrough

DENNIS WISE

Chelsea

TEDDY SHERINGHAM

Tottenham Hotspur

GARY WALSH

Bradford City

TONY ADAMS

Arsenal

LEE BOWYER

Leeds United

MARIAN PAHARS

Southampton

ROBERT PAGE

Watford

STEVE GUPPY

Leicester City

Manager of the week: David Jones, for two inspired choices - sending on Matt Le Tissier as substitute and picking an all-black kit to confuse Manchester United's colour-sensitive all-stars.

Performance of the week: Leicester City, showing indefatigable spirit despite the club's troubles off the field.

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