Shadow over Warnock's joy


reports from Wembley

Huddersfield Town 2

Bristol Rovers 1

Huddersfield Town now possess a fitting stage to go with their spectacular new home, the First Division prize rapturously acclaimed yesterday thanks to a large helping hand from Andy Booth, their much-vaunted centre forward. Whether the name of Neil Warnock will remain fastened above the manager's door, however, is a conundrum not so easily solved.

Warnock is something of a play-off talisman. This was his third Wembley triumph and his achievements have not gone unnoticed among those clubs with a vacancy to fill. He says Huddersfield can only go forward now, but for him to stay in step depends on the outcome of today's meeting with the chairman, Terry Fisher.

The manager, who in successive years gave Notts County a promotion leg- up here, has been working without a contract and is disappointed at the reluctance so far to tie him down. "If it had been one of my players I would have locked him in the dressing room until he had signed," Warnock said. "Tonight I just want to enjoy the champagne, then I hope to hear certain things from the chairman. After that I will go away and think things over."

Warnock has had his differences, too, with an element of the Huddersfield support but as Chris Billy's winning goal 10 minutes from time brought an engrossing Second Division final to its climax, they were behind him all the way. At their fifth attempt Huddersfield had at last sampled Wembley success and the feeling was rather special.

It was Warnock who had played the decisive hand just as Bristol Rovers were wondering if their tidy, considered football was to meet its reward. Marcus Stewart, shooting from right to left, had just gone close. Earlier, Gareth Taylor had bungled a glorious opportunity when Stewart had seen a header come back to him off the bar, a moment that will haunt him for some time. Then Warnock sent on Iain Dunn and with his first touch the substitute crossed for Booth to set up Billy's winner. The aerial presence of the young England striker was something Rovers could not master all afternoon.

It was Booth who had given the Yorkshire side the lead in first-half injury time after another bout of penalty area head tennis following Ronnie Jepson's centre. His 30th goal of a productive campaign was cancelled out within 68 seconds as Stewart, on the turn, angled the ball deftly away from Steve Francis. Right at the death he struck the crossbar a second time from 25 yards. Unlike on Saturday, his name was not to prove so favoured.

Huddersfield Town (4-4-2): Francis; Trevitt (Dyson, 56), Scully, Sinnott, Cowan; Billy, Bullock, Duxbury, Crosby (Dunn, 80); Booth, Jepson. Substitute not used: Blackwell (gk).

Bristol Rovers (4-4-2): Parkin; Pritchard, Clark, Tillson, Gurney; Sterling, Miller, Skinner, Channing (Archer, 84); Taylor (Browning, 80), Stewart. Substitute not used: Collett (gk).

Referee: C Wilkes (Gloucester).