Hibs have Celtic in sight

Click to follow
The Independent Online

Hibernian moved to within two points of the Scottish Premier Division leaders Celtic when Thomas McManus's second-half goal was enough to seal victory at the bottom side, Dundee United. Celtic can re-establish a five-point cushion if they win at Motherwell this afternoon. Hibs are 10 points ahead of fourth-placed Rangers... and 30 in front of Dundee United.

Hibernian moved to within two points of the Scottish Premier Division leaders Celtic when Thomas McManus's second-half goal was enough to seal victory at the bottom side, Dundee United. Celtic can re-establish a five-point cushion if they win at Motherwell this afternoon. Hibs are 10 points ahead of fourth-placed Rangers... and 30 in front of Dundee United.

In the Nationwide First Division, the motivational techniques of Alan Smith, the Crystal Palace manager who has been extremely critical of his players' attitude, worked a treat. They had the better of the 90 minutes against promotion hopefuls Bolton Wanderers at the Reebok Stadium but must have believed fortune had forsaken the brave when they trailed 3-1 with 15 minutes remaining, goals by Gudni Bergsson, Michael Ricketts and Per Frandsen putting the home side in charge.

But Dougie Freedman's second goal of the game and a last minute equaliser from Clinton Morrison, one of three players Smith transfer-listed for poor attitude, made it 3-3 to earn Palace a deserved point. But they stay one off the bottom.

A poor attitude is a charge no one would ever level at Steve Claridge, the Portsmouth player-manager. A hard-fought 1-1 draw with third-placed Birmingham City at Fratton Park made it two wins and two draws since he took the helm after the sacking of Tony Pulis.

Pompey went in front towards the end of the first half when Lee Bradbury rose to meet Ceri Hughes' corner and firmly head in. Brum equalised three minutes after the restart when Nicky Eaden's free-kick floated through a crowded penalty area and into the net.

Things get no better for Huddersfield Town. The bottom side lost 1-0 at home to Blackburn Rovers, when they had no reply to Egil Ostenstad's 73rd minute strike.

Nottingham Forest, who mauled Burnley 5-0 in midweek, proved Tuesday night's events were no fluke when they beat Stockport County 2-1 at Edgeley Park. County, who had two first-half goals disallowed and hit the crossbar, took the lead soon after the restart but two goals by Jack Lester gave Forest the win.

At Selhurst Park, Wimbledon's poor home form was matched by the wretched away results of visitors Sheffield United's and the game duly progressed to a goalless draw as The Blades' disciplined defence blunted The Dons' best efforts.

Elsewhere, Gillingham had the better of the first half against Crewe Alexandra at the Priestfield Stadium but a Colin Little goal seven minutes into the second half gave Crewe their second 1-0 win of the week. A stooping header at the far post by Jason Koumas gave Tranmere Rovers the lead over struggling Queen's Park Rangers at Prenton Park. But Karl Connolly earned a draw for Gerry Francis's side with a goal seven minutes from the whistle.

There are new leaders in the Second Division. Walsall were held 2-2 at Brentford which allowed Reading, 4-3 winners in a rollercoaster match against the hapless bottom club, Oxford United, to go top.

There was a remarkable comeback at Kenilworth Road where struggling Luton Town cruised into a 3-0 lead. But four goals in the last 35 minutes gave Wrexham an unlikely 4-3 win, Darren Ferguson, the Manchester United manager's son, scoring the winner.

Bristol Rovers still await their first home win of the season. Yesterday Oldham Athletic were the latest recipients of the Memorial Ground hospitality, Mark Allott and Lee Duxbury scoring.

Chesterfield's lead at the top of the Third Division was cut to five points after they were held to a 2-2 home draw by Cardiff City, who had led 2-0. Second-placed Brighton won 2-1 at Darlington and are level on points with Rochdale, 1-0 winners at Exeter.

There was a rousing comeback in this section, too. Barnet, 3-0 down at Underhill to Lincoln City after 25 minutes turned the match around and won 4-3.

Comments