Grant gives little relief

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IT WAS National Family Day in the Endsleigh Football League - balloons, bunting, concessionary prices for kids and mums, that kind of thing - but domestic bliss in even the cosiest of homes can easily fall apart.

And it is looking fairly gloomy at Swindon. The cosy County Ground resembled Bleak House after a 1-0 defeat by an ordinary Charlton side which sank the Robins deeper into the relegation mire. Kim Grant scored the only goal, turning to shoot from 10 yards after Paul Mortimer's free-kick rebounded off their player-manager Steve McMahon. Without their leading scorer Jan Age Fjortoft, sold to Middlesbrough for £1.3m last week, Swindon used Peter Thorne as a lone striker and rarely looked like equalising.

The home fires burned brighter for Oldham after they ended Derby's seven- match unbeaten run. A goal by Richard Graham, his third of the season, won the match at Boundary Park to give Oldham only their second win in 13 matches.

The traditional "mixed reception" of boos and cheers greeted the West Brom manager Alan Buckley when he returned to Grimsby, the club he ran for seven years. He came away smiling after a 2-0 win.

In the Second Division, second-placed Brentford scored twice at Blackpool and although Phil Brown pulled one back - the first goal the Bees had conceded after five clean sheets - the Londoners also ran out 2-1 winners to keep up the pressure on leaders Stockport.

Third-placed Birmingham went ahead at Peterborough but an equaliser by Posh's reliable striker Ken Charlery cost them two points. Consolation came in the shape of 33,000 tickets sold in eight hours for next month's Auto Windscreens Shield final against Carlisle at Wembley. Carlisle, by the way, maintained their massive 14-point lead in the Third Division with a 2-1 win over Scunthorpe.

After the slip-ups of Bolton and Tranmere, Middlesbrough can strengthen their grip on pole position in the First Division by beating Port Vale at Ayresome Park this afternoon. They will have to do so without the services of the aforesaid Fjortoft who is on international duty with Norway.

"We've still got a strong squad and I'll need them all for the promotion run-in," the Boro player-manager, Bryan Robson, said. "We're on course again after giving ourselves a nice boost by winning at Sunderland in the week. Now we've got to build on it."