Cambridge lead the way but newly wealthy Blackburn give chase
7 December ~ Dion Dublin and John Taylor scored the goals in the 2-2 draw that kept Cambridge United top. Playing a widely criticised but productive long-ball game, John Beck’s side lost in the play-offs to Leicester after finishing fifth, their highest ever league position. Had they gone up to the Premier League it would have been a record-breaking third successive promotion. Beck was last in the national news in 2008 as the chief coach of Histon when they beat Leeds in the FA Cup.
Kenny Dalglish’s Blackburn, newly bankrolled by wealthy owner Jack Walker, went top after their 3-0 defeat of Bristol Rovers the following week and stayed put until March. A run of six successive defeats then pushed them down to seventh. After squeaking into the play-offs they beat Leicester at Wembley thanks to a Mike Newell penalty. David Speedie, whom Dalglish brought with him from Liverpool, was the division’s top scorer with 23 goals.
Two goals behind Speedie was Brett Angell who scored Southend’s first goal in their win over Brighton. Playing their first season at this level, they climbed to second but fell away to 12th – still their best League finish – after manager David Webb resigned in March.
After their defeat at Plymouth, Ipswich won nine of their next 11 matches, a run that lifted them into the top two; they went on to win the title by four points. Chris Kiwomya and midfielder Jason Dozzell were their leading scorers. Middlesbrough, for whom Bernie Slaven and Paul Wilkinson formed an effective strike partnership, clinched the second automatic promotion spot with a 2-0 win at Wolves on the final day. Slaven’s goal after 17 seconds against Sunderland in September was one of the fastest in the club’s history.
Port Vale’s 2-2 draw at Newcastle began a sequence of 17 games without a win which, unsurprisingly, cemented a relegation place. But with manager John Rudge in the middle of a 15-year spell in charge, the team were promoted again two years later.
Newcastle were third from bottom when Kevin Keegan replaced Ossie Ardiles as manager in February 1992, but they avoided the drop on the final day with a 2-1 win at Leicester. Relegated instead were Brighton and Plymouth, who had 42-year old-manager Peter Shilton in goal for their final seven matches.