Football Round-up: Gordon gives Palace a tonic

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A SUPERB 30-yard shot by Dean Gordon, the Crystal Palace full-back, dramatically grabbed a point for the Endsleigh League First Division front-runners a minute from time yesterday on a day when leadership proved too onerous a responsibility for a surprising number of teams.

Palace would have expected a tough match against fellow promotion contenders Derby County but, barring UFOs at this particular Palace and bearing in mind the Rams' away form, they would have expected to win. As it was, Gary Charles put Derby ahead until Gordon's strike. 'It was just a wonder goal that would grace any game,' the Derby manager, Roy McFarland, said. 'Even I said 'shoot' while I was sitting in the box watching him do it.'

'I just had a go,' the modest Gordon added. 'I stumbled as I shot and saw it go in from the corner of my eye.' How London's other high-fliers, Charlton, could have done with such invention. They could not reply to Clive Mendonca's 66th minute goal for Grimsby at The Valley. Joint-manager Steve Gritt acknowledged the need for new players: 'We need a fresh injection in the side to liven up our challenge.'

Matters were just as grim for Coca-Cola Cup semi-finalists Tranmere. They were doing quite nicely against Bristol City at Ashton Gate until the 72nd minute. Then goalkeeper Eric Nixon was sent off for bringing down Ian Brown. 'It looked a certain goalless draw until what seemed to me a very harsh decision,' a peeved Tranmere manager, John King, said. 'Bristol stopped us attacking but weren't looking like scoring.'

Nixon's replacement, Danny Coyne, scarcely had his gloves on before he was beaten by Brian Tinnion, Liverpool's nemesis. Wayne Allison put the match beyond Rovers.

Remember Barnsley's dramatic two-goals in the last two minutes at Bromsgrove to knock the non-leaguers out of the FA Cup? Southend didn't. Viv Anderson's side put on a repeat performance to grab three precious points at Roots Hall. With six minutes left it looked like a goalless draw but then Nicky Eaden (85 minutes) scored, United had Gary Poole sent off and Neil Redfearn (87) and Andy Rammell (90) added twice to the insult.

None of the top six teams in the Second Division could win. Leaders Reading were surprisingly beaten at home by Port Vale, who with games in hand are well-placed. Plymouth, lying fourth, also have games in hand - and sweaty palms too after yesterday's nervous and frantic 3-3 home draw against third-placed Bristol Rovers.

But the biggest upset was Fulham's 4-2 win at second-placed Stockport. When the Londoners, who in the week had defeated leaders Reading, fell behind to Kevin Francis's 20th goal of the season Edgeley Park sat back for a feast. They got one, from Fulham, as Jeff Eckhardt and Gary Brazil both scored twice.

And although the Third Division leaders, Crewe, won comfortably at Gillingham, other clubs found life at the top nerve-wracking. So we'll ignore them and bring tidings of bottom-of-the-League Northampton's first away win this season. Carlisle are the side experiencing maximum embarrassment; Phil Chard the Cobbler claiming credit for the 1-0 triumph.

Gordon Durie scored twice for Rangers in their 5-1 pummelling of Partick but Celtic's season got no better, as they drew 0-0 at Raith to make it four defeats and three draws since the New Year. Aberdeen, beaten at Hibs, lost ground, unlike Clyde of the First Division, who gained one when they moved into the new Broadwood Stadium in Cumbernauld. Ironically, one of their former landlords, Hamilton, provided their first opposition and, rather uncharitably, beat them.