Round-up: Albion in hunt

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The Independent Online
THEY will be fretting at Fratton now it is clear that the Fates have formed up against Portsmouth. Certainly West Bromwich Albion had the better of things at the Hawthorns, but just when Pompey thought Alan Knight's saves had kept them in check, Andy Hunt produced a pinpoint header to bag the points for Albion.

When a side is not in its pomp it needs all the breaks it can get, but the only one Pompey enjoyed came just short of the hour-mark when Daryl Burgess fouled Paul Hall. Alan McLoughlin potted the penalty, but then things got away from Portsmouth. Five minutes later, Hunt crossed for Lee Ashcroft to side-foot the equaliser. Then eight minutes from time Portsmouth's captain, centre-back Guy Butters, was sent off for a second bookable offence, so he was a spectator when the winner went in.

While defeat left Portsmouth with only Luton below them, the 2-1 victory kept West Brom right on the tail of the Endsleigh League First Division leaders, Leicester City, who continued their superb away form with a 3- 1 victory at Sheffield United.

They scored twice in five second-half minutes to spoil one of Sheffield United's better performances. Although Iwan Roberts put Leicester ahead early on, the Blades got their game together after Jostein Flo's clumsy equaliser. Flo might have scored again and Glyn Hodges hit the woodwork before Leicester took control with goals from Scott Taylor and David Lowe.

Birmingham City took advantage of Grimsby Town's profligacy to move up to third place ahead of Millwall, who visit Crystal Palace today, with a 3-1 home victory. Grimsby could have scored twice before the energetic Steve Claridge bundled in his first goal seven minutes after the break to put Birmingham ahead. He added his second in the last minute to end a fightback by Grimsby, who were revived by a goal from Neil Woods after Ken Charlery had made it 2-0 from Gary Cooper's cross.

Phil Gray's glancing 83rd-minute header kept Sunderland's unbeaten run rolling to eight matches with a 1-1 draw at Huddersfield Town. That was also the result at the Valley, where the scorers could take a bow. Lee Bowyer's run and spectacular shot put Charlton ahead, but Norwich's possession was rewarded when Mark Bowen lashed in a loose ball to equalise.

Swindon edged the Second Division's top-of-the-table match against Crewe to go seven points clear. Steve Finney settled it 2-1 in Swindon's favour with a late penalty, his ninth goal of the season. Steve Nicol opened the scoring for Notts County, who moved up to second place ahead of Crewe, by winning 3-0 at Bristol Rovers.

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