Football: Zimbabwe poised for series winBlake lifts Bradford

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BRADFORD CITY confirmed that they are in for the long haul this season when a 2-1 win over their fellow play-off candidates Wolverhampton Wanderers lifted them to third place in the Nationwide First Division.

The Bantams' sixth success in seven games was set up by Robbie Blake's ninth goal of the season, but it was all they had to show for their first- half domination. Five minutes into the second half Blake sent in Lee Mill for a left-foot drive to secure the win over a lacklustre Wolves, who pulled one back through Robbie Keane.

With the chance to go second if they won at Grimsby Town, Watford were found wanting when goals by Dave Smith and Paul Groves gave the Mariners a 2-1 win and ended the Hornets' 10-game unbeaten run.

There was precious little seasonal cheer for Oxford United and Portsmouth, the two financially troubled First Division clubs whose very existence is in doubt. Pompey, who last week lost a leading scorer (John Aloisi, sold to Coventry City) and chairman (Martin Gregory, resigned following death threats), lost the match at Bolton Wanderers, 3-1, despite the best possible start when Sammy Igoe scored after only 28 seconds, flicking in Jeff Peron's left-wing cross.

It was all Bolton pressure thereafter but stout defending kept Portsmouth's lead intact until half-time. Goals by Bob Taylor, Per Frandsen and Dean Holdsworth in the final 20 minutes made Wanderers' points.

Luckless Oxford lost 2-0 at Stockport County and had their defender Paul Gilchrist carried off with a broken arm. Two Iwan Roberts headers helped Norwich City beat Bristol City 2-1 to go fifth

At Oakwell, Swindon Town beat Barnsley in the first 28 minutes, by which time they were 3-0 up. It finished 3-1. "Our game plan was to defend deep and hit them on the break," Jimmy Quinn, the Robins' manager, revealed, "and I thought we thoroughly deserved the win."

His opposite number, John Hendrie, offered a different analysis. "Our defending was awful and two of their goals were blatantly offside. It was a kick in the teeth to lose today, a very poor performance and I simply won't stand for that."

Bury have still not won away from home this season. Port Vale, who had lost seven of their eight previous games, were the latest to expose the Shakers' travel sickness but needed a late Simon Barker penalty to do so.

In the Second Division, Fulham won 1-0 at Preston to go top. Chris Coleman's goal four minutes from the end clinched the Cottagers' victory.

Limping along goalless for 55 minutes against the bottom club Dunfermline, the Scottish champions, Celtic, scored five in 17 minutes and won 5-0.

Even wilder feats at Belle Vue where the Conference strugglers Doncaster Rovers were 3-0 down to Dover - Joff Vansittart scoring a hat-trick - by the 27th minute, were level by the 75th, trailed again four minutes later but scored twice in the final four minutes to record a breathless 5-4 win.

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