Rangers recovered from an early Martin Foyle goal to lead Vale 2-1, thanks to Danny Maddix and a Stuart Talbot own-goal, only for the former Ranger, Simon Barker, to equalise for Vale 12 minutes from the end. Then came Sheron's strike. Francis was not overly impressed with his team. "Port Vale made it very hard for us, playing only one up and packing the midfield. I had to get [the substitute] Rob Steiner on and go with three up as Vale weren't going to try and attack us. In the end we deserved to win but we made hard work of it."
Looking out of sorts on a poor pitch which did not impress Peter Reid, the Sunderland manager, the Nationwide First Division leaders none the less got the better of Stockport County, once, at the Stadium of Light. Carlo Nash in the County goal could not hold Michael Bridges 30th-minute drive, leaving Nicky Summerbee with a simple tap-in. It ended 1-0.
Third-placed Watford drew 0-0 with Barnsley at Vicarage Road, while Wolves and Bolton Wanderers also shared the spoils at Molineux. Bob Taylor gave the visitors the lead but Neil Emblen equalised 18 minutes from time.
Benny Lennartsson was able to celebrate a first win as the manager of Bristol City after a 2-0 win over Sheffield United at Ashton Gate, and Bury's quick midweek trip to St Lucia paid dividends when they beat West Brom 2-0.
Perhaps Tranmere should consider a visit to sunny climes. They lost 2- 1 at home to Grimsby. "I am speechless really," John Aldridge, their manager, said. "It's demoralising and must be the same for the fans."
Marcus Stewart scored a hat-trick as Huddersfield Town maintained the only unbeaten home record in the First Division with a 4-0 thrashing of Crystal Palace.
In Scotland, the plight of the Aberdeen manager, Alex Miller, worsened after the Dons were beaten 4-0 at Kilmarnock, who are now headily level on points with Rangers at the top of the Premiership. "I don't think it was a lack of fight from us," Miller said, "but there is no confidence in the team."