Winning Webb as five go mad on sacking

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The Independent Football

Last week's fixture break for internationals brought with it the usual sackings and resignations at managerial level for the Nationwide divisions, all somewhat overshadowed by a rather more high-profile departure than expected.

Last week's fixture break for internationals brought with it the usual sackings and resignations at managerial level for the Nationwide divisions, all somewhat overshadowed by a rather more high-profile departure than expected.

This weekend no fewer than five clubs started with a new man in charge, be it temporary or permanent - well, as permanent as football's business practices at board level allow. In addition to Portsmouth (see below left), Oxford United of the Second Division and the Third Division clubs Southend United, Plymouth Argyle, and Halifax Town all had new men in the dug-out.

Dave Webb, who quit Conference leaders Yeovil, stopped off in the East End of London to see what tactical insights could be gleaned from Reggie Kray's funeral before arriving at Roots Hall for another spell as Southend manager, Alan Little having been sacked with the club in eighth place. Yesterday Webb started with a1-0 win over York City secured by Trevor Fitzpatrick's 11th-minute strike.

On the opposite side of the country and somewhat lower down the division, Plymouth sacked Kevin Hodges and caretaker boss Kevin Summerfield chose the side that beat Blackpool 2-0 at Home Park to do his chances of getting a long-term appointment no harm at all.

The other two managerial changes have been at the sides bottom of the Second and Third Divisions. At Oxford, who prop up the former, Mike Ford's spell as caretaker began with a fighting 4-3 defeat at home to Wrexham.

Finally, Paul Bracewell, sacked by Fulham to make way for Jean Tigana, has taken over at Halifax, last in the entire league. It was business as usual when they lost 2-0 at home to Hull City.

Speaking of Fulham, they were knocked off the top of the First Division by Watford, who beat Queen's Park Rangers 3-1 at Vicarage Road, Neil Cox scoring twice the first 20 minutes.

Bolton Wanderers stay third thanks to a 2-1 win over Wolverhampton Wanderers at the Reebok Stadium while the Midlands challenge of fourth-placed Birmingham City continued with a 2-1 defeat of Crystal Palace at St Andrew's. Martin O'Connor missed a 43rd-minute penalty and Clinton Morrison gave Palace the lead soon after the restart. But goals by Mark Burchill, on loan from Celtic, and Dele Adebola stifled the Londoners.

Preston North End moved up to fifth when they beat Tranmere 1-0 and West Bromwich Albion lost 3-2 at home to Norwich City. Burnley beat Stockport County 2-1 to stay in touch and Sheffield United beat Crewe 1-0 thanks to George Santos' 89th-minute strike.

At Oakwell, Barnsley's 100 per cent record was sent spinning by Nottingham Forest who led 3-0 and won 4-3. The Forest manager, David Platt, is in the frame for England job. At the bottom, Huddersfield Town lost 1-0 at Grimsby Town.

In the Second Division, the leaders Walsall were held to a 0-0 draw by Bristol City but there were important wins for Reading, who beat Wycombe 2-0, and Millwall, 4-0 winners over Bury.

And they've gone Caracas in Swansea where the newly arrived Venezuelan international striker, Giovanni Savarese, scored both goals in the 2-1 win over Stoke. Savarese was brought in from the San Jose Earthquakes having scored 51 goals in four MLS seasons.

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