Football round-up: Glory boys fall to earth

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A SPITEFUL game this football, allowing the victorious scarcely any time to savour their moments of glory. Three of the four Endsleigh First Division sides who dumped their supposed Premiership betters out of the FA Cup in last week's fourth-round replays received rude reminders that after the party there is always a bill to pay, a hangover to nurse.

Only one of the famous four, Charlton Athletic, Blackburn's conquerors, managed to win. They went to and thrashed another of the quartet, Oxford United, humblers of Leeds. Carl Leaburn had troubled Rovers' defence in both of their meetings and Oxford found him no less of a handful.

The lanky striker scored a hat-trick in Charlton's 4-0 win, which helped them cut Crystal Palace's lead at the top to three points. Palace were held to a 1-1 draw by Grimsby when, with two minutes to go, Clive Mendonca's 15th goal of the season equalised Gareth Southgate's first-half strike.

Worse news for Oxford came from Peterborough. Ken Charlery's fifth goal since returning to London Road last December was good enough to beat Middlesbrough as Posh swapped places with Oxford at the bottom of the division.

David Pleat took his Luton side, Newcastle's Cup nemesis, to one of his former clubs, Leicester, and lost 2-1. It ended a five-match unbeaten away run. Bolton, who have beaten Everton and Arsenal this year, lost at Derby. Millwall regained third place - they had lost it to Tranmere on Friday evening - when a goal from Etienne Verveer either side of half-time beat Barry Fry's struggling Birmingham 2-1 at the New Den.

'It's a terrible, terrible, terrible position to be in,' Fry said. 'With the players I've got becoming available, I feel confident we can win enough games to stay in this division. We've been to hell and back and it's been an awful run.' And an awful decision, too, by some half- dozen Brum fans to infiltrate the main Millwall stand. Fighting broke out, there were five arrests and one away fan dislocated a shoulder.

There were two remarkable 4-1 away wins at the top of the Second Division. The leaders, Reading, went a goal behind at Hartlepool but recovered to score four in the last 33 minutes. Oddly, Jimmy Quinn only scored one of them.

More surprising was Brentford's win at Bristol Rovers. Joe Allon claimed a hat-trick in the space of 36 minutes either side of half-time as the Bees joined Rovers, Plymouth and Burnley on 50 points. Argyle drew 0-0 at Barnet, a result befitting two sides managed by the former England goalkeepers Peter Shilton and Ray Clemence. Plymouth had their current goalkeeper, Alan Nicholls, sent off 16 minutes from time.

None of the top six in the Third Division won, which enabled Torquay to move into fifth place after their 2-1 defeat of Doncaster. Scunthorpe gave the leaders, Crewe, a mighty fright at Gresty Road, the sides swapping goals like heavyweights trading punches in the final round as they drew 3-3. Second-placed Wycombe failed badly at Mansfield, losing 3-0.

Aberdeen and Motherwell kept alive the chase at the top of the Scottish Premier. The Dons beat Raith 4-0, three of the goals coming in a four- minute burst, but Well had to rely on two own-goals from their uncommonly generous hosts, Dundee United. It was their first win there since 1976.

And the miserable half of Glasgow at last has a reason to smile - Celtic finally won a game in 1994 as Charlie Nicholas scored twice without reply at Hearts.

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