Football / Round-Up: Early baths for two on loan

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THE LONELINESS OF the Loan Distance Player clearly plays havoc with that delicate flower, the footballer's temperament, especially when he is called in to aid a promotion push. Both Bjorn Kristensen, on loan from Newcastle United to Portsmouth, and Bernie Slaven, ditto from Middlesbrough to Port Vale, were sent off on their loan debuts yesterday. But neither spoiled the party. Guy Whittingham's 11th- minute diving header had put Pompey in charge of the First Division clash against Charlton Athletic at Fratton Park.

Then a second bookable offence, for pulling down the striker Gary Nelson, cost the Danish international Kristensen any further part in the match, leaving Portsmouth to play 21 minutes as 10 men. Second Division Port Vale had to do without Slaven for 38 minutes at Brisbane Road when he was dismissed for violent conduct in the promotion scrap with Leyton Orient. Ray Walker's 67th-minute goal gave Vale the points.

NEWCASTLE UNITED, West Ham United, and Leicester City all had good wins at the top of the First Division yesterday. At St James' Park, the battle of the Magpies was somewhat one-sided, as goals by David Kelly (twice), Robert Lee and Andrew Cole, on his home debut, brushed Notts County aside. Leicester were equally dismissive of Grimsby Town scoring three in the first 26 minutes.

West Ham needed two penalties from Julian Dicks to beat Tranmere Rovers. The Hammers' on-loan debutant, David Speedie, was not sent off.

BRENTFORD's preposterous run of defeats at Griffin Park is beginning to make Derby County's home form look faultless. Yesterday's 2-0 reverse, the Bees' 10th home loss this season, also lifted Birmingham City out of the relegation zone. In John Ward's first match as Bristol Rovers manager, the Pirates scored twice at Kenilworth Road. One strike was an own goal and they shared a point a piece with improved Luton Town.

BRUCE GROBBELAAR, Stoke City's on-loan and Very Famous Zimbabwean international goalkeeper, kept a clean sheet on his Victoria Ground debut. The Potters' on-bail striker, Mark Stein, scored the only goal of the game to maintain their lead at the top of the Second Division. West Bromwich Albion snatched a point at Hartlepool United - yes, 'Pool have suddenly remembered how to score, or at least Andy Saville has - through Paul Raven's late equaliser but Stockport County's 3-2 win at Preston North End lifted them into third place.

CARDIFF CITY were the only side in the Third Division automatic promotion places to win, beating Chesterfield 2-1. Second- placed Barnet lost at Walsall. Brendan Batson, deputy chief executive of the PFA who lives in Walsall, popped into the Bees dressing room to commiserate and advise: not on their performance but on the lack of wages experienced by several of their players. 'We are hoping that very shortly all matters concerning the players' contracts will be fully resolved to everybody's satisfaction - the club, the Football League and the players,' Batson said.

A DRAMATIC relegation tussle in the Scottish Premier at Fir Park, where Partick Thistle overcame Motherwell's 2-0 first-half lead with three goals in 14 minutes. In the First Division, the leaders, Raith Rovers, beat second-placed Dunfermline to go nine points clear.