Rampant Wolves tear County apart

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The Independent Football

Dean Sturridge and Mark Kennedy both scored twice as Wolves won 4-1 at Stockport County to go five points clear at the top of the Nationwide First Division.

It was a nostalgic return for the visitors' manager, David Jones, to the club at which he made his managerial mark before leaving for Southampton in 1997, and from the start bottom-of-the-table County were at their most hospitable.

Their centre-back, Robert Clare, hauled down Nathan Blake on the edge of the penalty area and was sent off, leaving Stockport to play with 10 men for 75 minutes after Sturridge fired in the penalty.

"We're not worrying about anybody else or relying on anybody else now," Jones said, "it's down to us. This was a potential banana skin. To come away and win 4-1 again is a good performance."

There were hefty wins for two other Midlands promotion hopefuls. West Bromwich Albion went third after Jason Roberts scored twice in their 5-0 hammering of Portsmouth at The Hawthorns. "We now have 11 difficult games left against teams around us in the table," Gary Megson, the West Brom manager, said. "I have £2.3 million to spend and I'm looking at a couple of players in particular, but they are not available at the moment."

David Thompson scored two and made two as sixth-placed Coventry City thrashed Barnsley 4-0 at Highfield Road. "A brilliant game," Thompson's manager, Roland Nilsson, purred. "He is lively and buzzing and he can unlock a team and give that little bit extra you always need." The Moroccan Youssef Chippo got the Sky Blues off to a flying start, rapping in a Thompson cross with only 17 seconds on the watch.

Fifth-placed Burnley were made to work rather harder for their three points at Crewe. Gareth Taylor and Alan Moore put the Clarets in control in 58 minutes but five minutes later Rob Hulse pulled a goal back and Burnley had to hold on for the 2-1 win. Just outside the play-off places, Crystal Palace slipped up when Sheffield United's Michael Brown dribbled from the halfway line to score the only goal of the game at Selhurst Park.

At the bottom, Grimsby Town's struggle has been reinforced by the arrival on loan of Charlton's Andy Todd in defence and Martin Pringle in attack. On their debuts at Nottingham Forest, poor finishing by both sides ensured a predictable goalless draw.

In the Yorkshire derby with relegation on its agenda at Hillsborough, a last-minute goal by Rotherham United's Richard Barker condemned his first club, Sheffield Wednesday, to a 2-1 defeat and guarantees more sleepless nights for the Owls.

Another Yorkshire side, Bradford City, signed the Everton striker Danny Cadamarteri on a free transfer last week and he livened up their attack, scoring the final goal in the Bantams' 4-0 drubbing of Gillingham at Priestfield.

In the big Second Division match the leaders, Reading, won 1-0 at home against Stoke City. Reading started with last season's 30-goal marksman, Jamie Cureton, for the first time in 12 games and he duly delivered in the 52nd minute. Alan Pardew's side are four points clear of second-placed Brighton, who drew 0-0 at home with Wrexham.

The top Third Division side, Plymouth Argyle, strode on, beating Kidderminster 2-1 at Home Park despite a start delayed by 90 minutes because of a power failure.