Boro dominated at Vale Park but fell to two breakaway goals by Lee Glover and Tony Naylor, signed for a combined cost of pounds 350,000. It was their first defeat of the season.
Promoted Reading moved up to third with their 1-0 win over relegated Sheffield United. Jimmy Quinn, the Northern Ireland international, was on target from Simon Osborn's cross. Millwall manager Mick McCarthy was warned by police at Tranmere for swearing from the dug-out during the Lions'
3-1 defeat. 'I was furious about not being awarded a penalty. It was blatant. Is it any wonder we swear?' he pondered.
Since parting company with former manager Joe Jordan, Stoke have not lost while scoring nine goals in three games. Their latest win, over Notts County, who last week sacked manager Mick Walker, came courtesy of Canadian international Paul Peschisolido's two goals.
There is no better way to start a trial than by scoring the winner and former Liverpool favourite Ronnie Whelan endeared himself by doing that on his home debut for Southend, who beat Bristol City 2-1.
The two pointless sides in the Endsleigh, Bournemouth and Chester of the Second Division, got off the mark at the eighth attempt when they drew 1-1 at Dean Court while at the happier end of that section leaders Oxford, with Paul Moody scoring his ninth of the season, and third-placed Bradford had to fight hard for a point at Brighton and York.
In the Third Division second-placed Bury's away form remains remarkable. All four games won without a goal conceded and 12 scored. Latest victims Rochdale lost 3-0, with John Paskin scoring twice.
Celtic entertained Kilmarnock yesterday, or would have had the visitors not refused boardroom hospitality. Kilmarnock are upset at accusations that their chairman acted in an undignified manner to try to persuade Tommy Burns to stay, while Celtic are still smarting at the pounds 100,000 fine they received from the Scottish League for luring him to be their manager. On the field, things ended all square, Pat McGinlay equalising Robert Williamson's strike for Kilmarnock.