Roberts uses his head

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The Independent Online
ON a weekend when many of the teams fancied for promotion from the Endsleigh First Division met each other, the results and, more pertinently, the performances suggested that this is not a splendid vintage.

The leaders Leicester had a difficult match, which had more to do with recent history than tricky players, when Reading, the club manager Mark McGhee precipitously quit last season in a forlorn attempt to save Leicester from Premiership relegation, visited Filbert Street.

Simon Sheppard, in Reading's goal only because they could not get a work permit for the Bulgarian international Boris Mikhailov in time, made a string of fine saves before watching player-manager Mick Gooding split the Leicester defence with a precise diagonal pass. Full-back Andy Bernal met it to score with a rasping right-foot shot. Iwan Roberts finally broke Sheppard's resolve with a close-range header for his fifth goal of the season.

After a lively start, the match at Carrow Road between second-placed Millwall and hosts Norwich, who are fourth, petered out into a tedious goalless draw but fifth-placed Huddersfield will be pleased with the 0- 0 stalemate at Crystal Palace. It was their first away point of the season.

By far the biggest winners were third-placed Ipswich. Neil Gregory scored his first two senior goals in the 4-2 defeat of Watford, the Suffolk side's fourth consecutive home win. Once-fancied Wolves lost 2-1 at struggling Southend. And, yes, a few travelling fans struck up the familiar refrain, "Taylor Out".

In the Second Division, the top two, Swindon and Crewe, both scored four away from home. Kevin Horlock scored a hat-trick as the leaders Swindon won at Bristol Rovers while the Railwaymen beat Bournemouth, who were reduced to nine men when Adrian Pennock and Neil Young were sent off.

Two sides relegated to the Third show every sign of making it a brief visit. Top-of-the-table Chester, managed by Kevin Ratcliffe, beat Lincoln 5-1 and fast risers Leyton Orient, flushed by their first away win in 43 attempts in midweek, beat Hartlepool 4-1 to go third. But Ray Clemence's Barnet are bottom of the pile after their 2-1 home defeat by improving Plymouth.

Finally, let's hear from Glasgow's "other" Premier side, Partick, who beat Hearts 2-0 to go fourth. "There is a confidence at this club," manager Murdo MacLeod said, "and instead of people talking about Partick in the relegation area we are now in the quarter-finals of the League Cup and unbeaten in the League."