The day the Nelson touch sank Portsmouth
Wednesday 27 December 1995
Secure in the knowledge that they could not be overtaken - barring an improbable score at Bramall Lane - after their nearest rivals Sunderland and Leicester were frozen out of the day's action, the First Division leaders Derby County continued their extraordinary run of success since Jim Smith's appointment with a 1-0 victory at Huddersfield.
Derby have now taken 25 points out of 27. It was only Huddersfield's second defeat in 12 games and with 13 minutes remaining even this setback looked unlikely. Chances had been evenly spread when Steve Francis could only parry a header from Daryll Powell and the Dutch striker, Ron Willems, nipped in to score.
At The Valley it was a case of the Nelson touch sinking Portsmouth - a novel change. Whichever foot it was that Garry Nelson used to score the 89th minute winner it was the right foot as far as Charlton were concerned. The 2-1 victory earned by the author of "Left Foot Forward" hoisted the Valiants from sixth to second position. Pompey, who were on a run of four wins, had taken the lead early on through Paul Hall. It took Charlton 65 minutes to fathom the visitors' offside tactics before Shaun Newton equalised, setting up the Londoners for that grandstand finish.
The Norwich chairman, Robert Chase, was subjected to further abuse after the Canaries slumped to their fourth defeat in five matches at home to Southend. There were chants of "Chase out" and "Are you proud of what you've done?" throughout the game while fans voiced their support for Martin O'Neill, who walked out of Carrow Road after well-publicised disagreements with Chase.
The malevolent atmosphere made it a tricky return for their former player, Gary Megson, who in two spells in charge at Norwich now has a record of one draw and six defeats. This one came as something of a surprise since they dominated the match, Gary Jones's 55th minute goal for the Blues apart.
John Aldridge put himself clear at the top of the goalscoring charts with 16 in the First Division thanks to a four-minute double against Oldham, as Tranmere scored their first win in six games.
The Third Division leaders, Crewe, failed to score at home for the first time this season when they drew with Wrexham but the point was enough to keep them ahead of Swindon who could not take advantage in a goalless draw against Wycombe. A Dean Wilkins goal three minutes before half-time was enough for Brighton to defeat Brentford and end a run of seven consecutive away defeats.
Gillingham jumped over Preston and Chester to become Third Division leaders again with a late penalty by Steve Butler following handball by Plymouth's Gary Clayton, for which the midfielder was dismissed.
Diving in at the deep end is no excuse for shirking the style stakes
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