McCall bewares bottom as he leads Blades to the top

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The Independent Football

Stuart McCall captained Bradford City during their brief tenure in the Premiership, but he showed little nostalgia when he went back to Valley Parade with Sheffield United. The former Everton and Rangers midfielder scored his first goal for the Blades as Neil Warnock's side won a pulsating Yorkshire derby 2-1 go top of the Nationwide First Division.

The match burst into life with two goals in as many minutes. Dean Windass gave the Bantams a 28th-minute lead against his former club but within 60 seconds the Blades were level when Peter Ndlovu scored his eighth goal in six games. Then came McCall's moment.

"I said I'd show my backside if he scored," Warnock threatened. "I can't believe he got the winner. I don't think their goalie is used to the ball bouncing 30 times before going in. If we can hang on to the coat-tails of the teams at the top then I'll be happy with the start we have made."

There was an explosive beginning to the Midlands derby at the Hawthorns between West Bromwich Albion and Stoke City. The Potters' John Eustace and Andy Johnson of Albion were sent off in the fifth minute for a bit of pushing and shoving at a corner.

"To send two men off for that regardless as to whether it is in the second minute or 82nd minute is a nonsense," Gary Megson, the Albion manager, said. Scott Dobie, having missed from three yards, scored the only goal of the game as West Brom went third. Graham Laws later sent off Stoke's Marcus Hall, his second red card of the week.

One of Norwich City's loan stars, Darren Huckerby, led the Canaries' recovery in the 2-1 win over Crystal Palace at Carrow Road. Shaun Derry gave Palace a second-minute lead but Huckerby had his shirt tugged as he broke into the London side'sarea and converted the spot-kick.

"Darren was warming up for the first 25 minutes," thought his manager, Nigel Worthington, "but once he warmed up that was it - game, set and match." Malky Mackay's deflected late shot won it as Norwich went third.

Junior's third goal since joining Derby County from Walsall put the Rams ahead in the 25th minute at Nottingham Forest but Paul Hart's side salvaged a point from another Midlands derby when Andy Reid chipped Andy Oakes in the Derby goal. Forest, who had defender John Thompson sent off three minutes from the end, stay fifth.

Robert Earnshaw was on target for the 14th time this season and Peter Thorne scored twice as Cardiff City beat Crewe 3-0 at Ninian Park, while Ipswich Town got their first points away from Portman Road with a 2-1 victory at Watford, Shefki Kuqi, on loan from Sheffield Wednesday, and Jim Magilton scoring. Vinny Samways claimed his first goal in England since returning from Spain as Walsall beat Preston North End 2-1 and Rotherham drew 1-1 with Gillingham at Millmoor.

The Second Division leaders, Port Vale, drew 1-1 with Wycombe at Vale Park, but at the bottom Chesterfield are still the only Nationwide side without a win. They lost 2-1 at home to Brentford. Leading Cambridge United 1-0, Mansfield Town had Iyseden Christie and Rhys Day sent off in the first half but still went on to win 2-1. Blackpool, giant-killers of Birmingham City in the Carling Cup, kept up the winning habit, beating visitors Notts County 2-1.

Top played bottom in the Third Division as, predictably, Swansea City won 2-1 at Carlisle United; second-placed Hull City thrashed Kidderminster Harriers 6-1.

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