Net loss keeps pressure on at Airdrie

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The Independent Football

Locked out of their Excelsior Stadium in midweek by the interim liquidators KPMG and bailed out by fans who stumped up £15,000 to cope with the immediate financial difficulties, Airdrieonians were unable to make an immediate down-payment on their supporters' faith when they lost 2-0 at Alloa.

Locked out of their Excelsior Stadium in midweek by the interim liquidators KPMG and bailed out by fans who stumped up £15,000 to cope with the immediate financial difficulties, Airdrieonians were unable to make an immediate down-payment on their supporters' faith when they lost 2-0 at Alloa.

Steve Archibald, the Airdrie manager, had been hampered in his preparations for the match in that he and his squad were unable to gain access to the ground's treatment room all week, so his injured players stayed that way.

"We have remained very positive despite the situation and the players have been flying in training," Archibald said before yesterday's defeat. "I actually had to calm them down." Perhaps he calmed them down too much as goals by Willie Irvine and Ross Hamilton kept his side at the bottom of the First Division.

Elsewhere in Scotland, the Premier sides Hearts beat Aberdeen 2-0, Motherwell defeated the bottom club, Dundee United, 2-1 and Dunfermline won 2-0 at St Johnstone .

In the Nationwide First Division, Fulham were 3-0 home winners over the bottom club Huddersfield, who are without a win in 15 league matches. Louis Saha missed several chances for Fulham, who by their early-season standards were disappointing in the first half. In the second they stepped up a gear and goals by Saha, Bjarne Goldbaek and Steve Finnan broke the Terriers' resolve. The visitors also had Scott Sellars sent off.

The leaders, Watford, also had a comfortable home win, beating Lennie Lawrence's resurgent Grimsby 4-0. The Mariners held parity for 30 minutes, then an Allan Nielsen tap-in and a Tommy Mooney header put them two-up by the 33rd minute. The Hornets played rest of the match from habit, with additional goals from Gifton Noel-Williams and Mooney's second.

West Bromwich, without their suspended striker Lee Hughes, had to thank Jason Roberts' late goal for the point won against Burnley at The Hawthorns in a 1-1 draw. Another side jockeying for position on the fringes of the play-off places, Blackburn, came from behind to beat Stockport 2-1 at Ewood Park, their fifth consecutive win. But Sheffield United lost 2-1 at home to Gillingham.

Paul Peschisolido, the former Birmingham City striker loaned by Fulham to struggling Queen's Park Rangers, took just 10 minutes to open his account but Lee Bradbury scored early in the second half to stretch Portsmouth's unbeaten run since Steve Claridge became player-manager to six matches.

The big relegation battle of the day was at Selhurst Park where Crystal Palace, without a league win in seven matches but 3-0 Worthington Cup winners at Peter Taylor's Leicester in midweek, carried on that form by hammering Sheffield Wednesday 4-1, Jamie Pollock scoring twice.

Colin Cramb scored both goals at Gresty Road as Crewe beat Wolves 2-0 and Iwan Roberts' goal was sufficient for Norwich City to defeat Tranmere at Carrow Road.

Now that the managerial mayhem which accompanied last month's break for international fixtures has abated, we had an early opportunity to judge the good sense of the most recent appointments. I am speaking, of course, not of Swedes but of Tony Cottee, Third Division Barnet's new player-manager making his first ever trip to Rochdale to run the rule over his new side. The former West Ham, Everton and Leicester striker saw a 0-0 draw.

Of the other new appointees, Paul Sturrock saw his new charges, Plymouth Argyle, earn a point with a 1-1 draw in the Devon Riviera derby at Torquay and David Kemp, taking over at the Manor Ground with Oxford United so far behind in the Second Division as to seem halfway down the Third, witnessed a 1-0 defeat by Bristol Rovers.

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