Naylor lifts Vale heads

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The Independent Online
The manifold problems of the great and good in the Premiership are undoubtedly dire but pale when compared to the severely cash-strapped mortals of the Nationwide League. Here, Port Vale and Brighton & Hove Albion hang above the abyss which has in the past claimed Aldershot, Accrington and the like, while vociferous disgruntlement is the prevailing tone elsewhere.

Vale's chairman, Bill Bell, who has threatened to close the club unless a new owner can be found this week, may have been surprised by the team's response. They beat Wolves 1-0 at Molineux thanks to Tony Naylor's 65th- minute header and advertised themselves as a neat, going concern on the pitch.

The manager, John Rudge, was jubilant. "It hasn't crossed my mind that I won't have a club to manage this time next week. The chairman certainly hasn't talked to me about what is going on. I just have to get on with my job." The former vice-chairman, David Bundy, is interested in buying the club, according to his son.

Wolves fans were less impressed and booed Mark McGhee's side off after a fourth consecutive home defeat.

Brighton, bottom of the entire League and snubbed by Portsmouth as prospective tenants at Fratton Park next season, lost 2-0 at Doncaster. The club is to have ground-share discussions with Gillingham.

Seagulls' fans staged a walk out during Tuesday night's match against Hereford and 300 supporters of Third Division Hull did likewise 20 minutes before the end of their 3-0 home defeat by leaders Fulham. They congregated in the main stand's car park, demanding that chairman Martin Fish and manager Terry Dolan quit.

On a lighter note, for First Division Sheffield United fans in particular, the Blades rampaged through Stoke City's unbeaten home record to win 4- 0. This week, expect the Potters to spend time on the training ground defending corners, the source of Sheffield's first three goals.

Bolton stay top of the First, coming back from 3-1 down at Charlton to draw 3-3. The turning point was Phil Chapple's 58th-minute sending off. Swindon's Mark Walters was also sent off, but the Robins held on to win 2-1 at Crystal Palace, which meant that Steve Davis's last-minute equaliser for Barnsley at Bradford moved them up to third. Chris Waddle scored for Bradford on his home debut.

Accepted wisdom has it that Irish League football matches are generally free from the more violent aspects of the sectarianism which infects Northern Ireland. Yesterday's abandonment of the match between Portadown and Cliftonville, the only club with a Catholic fan-base in the Northern Ireland league, because of crowd trouble brought the problem to the surface.