Jansen keeps Rovers in hunt

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The Independent Football

Heated debates as to whether British footballers should join their continental colleagues everywhere from Hamburg to Cagliari and enjoy a winter break were rudely interrupted when Mother Nature carpeted the Isles with layers of snow, ice, frost, sleet, freezing fog and more snow, forcing the postponement of 26 league matches in England and Wales and leaving only four playable in Scotland.

Heated debates as to whether British footballers should join their continental colleagues everywhere from Hamburg to Cagliari and enjoy a winter break were rudely interrupted when Mother Nature carpeted the Isles with layers of snow, ice, frost, sleet, freezing fog and more snow, forcing the postponement of 26 league matches in England and Wales and leaving only four playable in Scotland.

In the Nationwide First Division, Blackburn Rovers beat Crewe 1-0 at Ewood Park. Matt Jansen, who had eight efforts on goal and missed one from three yards, eventually beat the outstanding Ademola Bankole after 67 minutes. It was Rovers' fourth consecutive win and took Graeme Souness's side to within three points of second-placed Bolton with a game in hand. "We're going to have to learn to put teams out of their misery when we're so much on top," he warned. "It should have been four or five, it was a bit like the Alamo for them."

Hardy spectators enduring a dull 0-0 Yorkshire derby at the McAlpine Stadium between Huddersfield Town, unbeaten in December, and Sheffield Wednesday were grateful to the Owls' substitute Gerald Sibon for an entertaining 12-minute cameo. On just past the hour, Sibon was booked in the 74th minute and 60 seconds later up-ended Peter Ndlovu right in front of referee Mark Cowburn, who sent him off.

David Healy, Manchester United's Northern Ireland striker on loan to Preston prior to a permanent move next week, put North End 1-0 up at Sheffield United after four minutes. Mark Rankine made it 2-0 but the Blades rediscovered their cut and thrust as goals by Bobby Ford, David Kelly and substitute Jason Thomas, himself on loan from Blackburn, earned the home win. "They don't know when they are beaten," the Blades' manager Neil Warnock boomed. "They kept grinding and working hard for each other and that is why I get so proud of them."

Notts County were never behind at Millwall, the Second Division leaders, but left it late for Gary Owers' last-minute winner. Wigan won 2-0 at struggling Luton Town to go second, two points behind the Lions.

In the Third Division's only match, Torquay made their cross-country trip to Southend worthwhile by grabbing a point from a 1-1 draw.

Finally, Macclesfield Town celebrated the new year by sacking their manager, Peter Davenport, who refused to work with Gil Prescott, thedirector of football. Prescott has been put in charge of the team for tomorrow's game at Scunthorpe United.

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