Shearer away day

Football round-up
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The Independent Online
ALAN SHEARER'S 77th-minute goal at Loftus Road gave the champions Blackburn Rovers their first Premiership away win of the season. For Queen's Park Rangers, the fourth consecutive defeat plunged them even deeper into the swiftly coagulating relegation mire. Ray Wilkins, the Rangers' player-manager, had only himself to blame. He missed their best chance when a mix-up in the Rovers defence presented him with a clear sight of goal but he lobbed over from 15 yards.

The hate-hate relationship which prevails between Wimbledon and referees continued at Burnden Park yesterday in their basement battle with Bolton.

The Dons had dominated for much of the first half, although Wanderers' centre-back Alan Stubbs had subdued Dean Holdsworth, the Londoners' in- form, 12-goal striker. But a minute before the break, as Bolton forced the pace, a Sasa Curcic centre hit Robbie Earle on the arm and the referee Mike Reed awarded a penalty which John McGinlay calmly converted. It won the match.

To make matters worse, Earle, the Wimbledon captain, had not enjoyed the decision and discussed it further with Mr Reed, who sent him off for dissent on the stroke of half time.

With only one defeat in nine games and FA Cup victory over Newcastle stolen in the dying seconds last weekend, Chelsea travelled to Goodison Park in expectation rather than hope of a good result, particularly with Ruud Gullit fit to resume his prompting from midfield.

But it was their striker John Spencer who was at the heart of their best and worst early moments against Everton. In the first minute, his mistake left Anders Limpar with a clear shot which whistled straight into Kevin Hitchcock's arms. But Spencer did better 19 minutes later, giving Chelsea the lead.

Since losing at home to Newcastle on 1 October, however, Everton have proved as hard to beat on their own turf as any side and they were level within 16 minutes. Dan Petrescu fouled Limpar, was booked for protesting too loudly and then watched David Unsworth tuck away the penalty. And 1-1 it finished, even though Chelsea had Mark Hughes sent off for dangerous play with 28 minutes remaining.

It was 1-1 at Hillsborough, too, where Sheffield Wednesday took the lead against Liverpool after just seven minutes. Ian Nolan charged down the right wing, beat Phil Babb and crossed for the Yugoslav striker Darko Kovacevic to fire in a low shot, his third goal for Wednesday.

The hosts, their defence bolstered by the return of Steve Nicol, who had played 350 games for Liverpool before arriving at Hillsborough via Notts County, held out until three minutes from the end. Ian Rush, the FA Cup's leading scorer, came off the bench to equalise. A very nice substitute to have.

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