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I'M STAYING VOWS MAC; Bumper new deal ties up City target Steve until 2001; Southend 1 Swindon 3.

Swindon player-manager Steve McMahon last night put loyalty before naked ambition - and pledged his future to the Wiltshire club until the year 2001.

McMahon said he will sign a new five-year contract at the County Ground tomorrow to end speculation that he was about to return to Manchester City as their new manager.

The former Liverpool and Maine Road favourite said: "I wanted to quash all the rumours. It's unfair for the supporters for everything to be ifs and buts. I wanted them to know I was prepared to stay.

"The fact is the club came to me with an offer. It's a five-year deal and I'm signing it because I believe in loyalty.

"I'm delighted. The club have shown a lot of faith in me. I think they realise the right things are happening.

"Swindon is a big enough club for me at the moment and being happy is really important.

"Perhaps I wouldn't be ready for Manchester City at the moment. The grass is not always greener."

McMahon had been repeatedly linked with the Maine Road vacancy since the job was turned down by George Graham.

And ironically Graham was in the Roots Hall crowd to see McMahon's coaching talents at first hand.

Swindon were a credit to their boss - competitive, organised and able to score three cracking goals.

All that meant Southend were never likely to record their first win of the season.

McMahon and Southend manager Ronnie Whelan shared the 80s glory years at Liverpool as team-mates.

But on this showing, their respective sides will finish this season at opposite ends of Division One. After the phoney war of the opening quarter of an hour, Swindon drew first blood with a classic - a fine team move finished with a spot of individual flair.

Seagraves' flighted pass into the penalty area was nodded down by Thorne. Cowe dummied, and Watson - making his second appearance following a free transfer from Spurs - crashed home a half-volley from 25 yards.

Lightning almost struck twice when another attempted long-range rocket from Watson flew just past the Southend post.

The home team saw a lot of the ball, but were unable to create a clear- cut opening in the first 20 minutes against a Swindon defence well-organised by Culverhouse.

But Southend squandered a golden opportunity to draw level.

Full-back Harris was the culprit. After beating two defenders he shot over the bar from eight yards with only the goalkeeper to beat.

Southend pressed forward with greater urgency as half-time approached and on one occasion Rammell was booked for a challenge on the goalkeeper.

But in the end, Town had to wait until the second half to make their superiority count.

Southend hinted briefly at a revival with Swindon keeper Talia forced into a brave double-save from Harris and former West Ham striker Borer.

But Swindon held firm and sealed the points when Cowe skilfully curled a low left-footer past Samsone from 18 yards.

The closing stages threatened to get nasty with several eyeball confrontations between the rival sets of players.

McMahon leapt out of the dugout in disgust after a late challenge by Dublin left Darras limping for the remainder of the match.

However, the nastiness was blown away by two goals in the final four minutes.

Williams and Boere teed up Byrne to smash home a goal for Southend - and give Whelan's men hope of salvaging a point.

However, Swindon regained their two-goal advantage in style right on the final whistle.

Man-of-the-match Horlock teased a beautiful cross from the right - and sub Finney connected with a diving header.
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Title Annotation:Sport
Author:Bernstein, Joe
Publication:The People (London, England)
Date:Sep 1, 1996
Words:597
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