Benarbia's bolt from the Sky Blues

Nationwide Review
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The Independent Online

A dramatic, diverted late winner from a speculative shot by Ali Benarbia gave Man-chester City a somewhat fortunate 2-1 win over Rother- ham United in the Nationwide First Division. It was the sort of good luck that is probably going to be crucial in the division this season, when, with apologies to leaders Burnley, there is no genuinely outstanding side set to run away with the title.

Rotherham's recovery after an uncertain start following promotion had seen them take 18 points from their previous 10 matches, and they had the better of the opening exchanges. Mark Robins had already missed the easiest of chances when, in the 24th minute, Chris Swailes rose to head John Mullins' corner firmly past Nicky Weaver in the City goal.

The Sky Blues, with Leon Mike partnering Darren Huckerby in attack in the absence of their injured leading scorer, Shaun Goater, equalised minutes before the break when Stuart Pearce's cross was bundled in by Christian Negouai – with a hand, the Millers vociferously asserted – for his first goal since arriving from Charleroi. Then came Benarbia's late bolt from the Sky Blues.

At Carrow Road, Norwich City, who had not won in three matches, moved up to third after beating Barnsley 2-1. Iwan Roberts headed in Paul McVeigh's pinpoint cross to put the Canaries ahead midway through the first half.

The Tykes, criticised by their new manager, Steve Parkin, last week for lacking match-fitness at this level, got themselves back into the game with Chris Baker's equaliser. But eight minutes from time Phil Mulryne won it with Norwich's second.

West Bromwich Albion moved up a place to fifth thanks to a 1-0 win over Bradford City at The Hawthorns, Derek McInnes side-footing home after Neil Clement and Igor Balis created the chance. Having beaten Crystal Palace in midweek, Gillingham made it a double over south London sides when they came back to beat Millwall 2-1 at the New Den. Guy Ipoua and Marlon King scored in the final 10 minutes after Tim Cahill's diving header had given the Lions the lead with 21 minutes left.

After dispatching Birmingham City 4-0 last Saturday, Sheffield United made rather heavier work of another Second City club, Walsall, at the Bescot Stadium. Things did not go well for the first half-hour as Darren Wrack put the home side ahead and the Blades had Ben Doane sent off. It got better before half-time. Michael Brown equalised, Walsall's Ian Roper saw red and Shane Nicholson scored a penalty for the visitors, who kept the second half goalless for the 2-1 win.

After the party to celebrate his 1,000th match in charge at Gresty Road, Dario Gradi's Crewe fell victim to the inevitable hangover and lost 3-0 to visitors Nottingham Forest. David Johnson scored twice for Paul Hart's promising young side.

Brighton are back to the top of the Second Division on goal difference thanks to a Bobby Zamora goal, his seventh in consecutive matches and 16th of the season, which earned a 1-1 draw at Swindon. Stoke City went second after a 1-0 win at Wrexham.

In the Third Division, the leaders, Plymouth Argyle, are now six points clear. They beat bottom club Carlisle United 3-0 at Home Park, but Rochdale conceded twice in injury time to allow Lincoln to take a point from a 2-2 draw.

In Scotland, Aberdeen's revival in the Premier was halted by a 3-2 defeat at Motherwell, while bottom club St Johnstone won only their second game of the season, beating Kilmarnock 1-0. The Saints' previous victims? Killie, of course.

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