Martyn clings on to Palace's points

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Crystal Palace maintained their recent improvement when they resisted Portsmouth's late challenge to secure a 3-2 victory in an enthralling match at Fratton Park yesterday.

Palace have made a habit of throwing away sizeable leads this season and despite going 3-0 ahead early in the second half they needed a string of fine saves by Nigel Martyn in the final minutes to secure victory.

David Hopkin, who scored twice, and Dougie Freedman, who netted after a solo run which took him past three defenders, had put Palace 3-0 up within 49 minutes, but Guy Butters and Fitzroy Simpson restored Portsmouth's hopes and only a stunning diving save by Martyn in injury-time denied John Durnin.

Port Vale had the better of the first hour at Ipswich, but ran out 5- 1 losers on a treacherous surface at Portman Road. Two goals in a minute started Vale's downfall, Simon Milton and Steve Sedgley both scoring after good work by Alex Mathie, who went on to score twice in the last seven minutes. Ian Marshall was Ipswich's other scorer, while Tony Naylor scored a consolation goal for Vale.

Southend extended their unbeaten league run to nine matches with a goalless draw at home to Barnsley, while Tranmere lost for the sixth time in seven matches, Trevor Morley scoring the only goal of the game for Reading 11 minutes from time.

Huddersfield drew 1-1 at Grimsby thanks to a controversial penalty 14 minutes from time by Ronnie Jepson, who scored on the rebound after Paul Crichton blocked his first shot. Grimsby players had beseiged the referee, Terry Heilbron, after he had awarded the spot-kick following a challenge by Mark Lever on Jepson. Steve Livingstone scored Grimsby's goal after 32 minutes.

Blackpool maintained their challenge for promotion from the Second Division when David Linighan scored their winner in a 2-1 victory at Carlisle only 30 seconds from time.

A 22nd-minute header by Leo Fortune-West gave Gillingham victory at Leyton Orient and put the visitors back on top of the Third Division. The biggest crowd of the season so far in the Third Division, 12,427, saw Ian Baird salvage a point for Plymouth Argyle with two second-half goals in the local derby at home to Exeter, while Andy Saville took his tally for the season to 18 with two goals in Preston's 5-0 win at home to Cardiff.

Bury conceded their first goal in 729 minutes when Keith Houchen gave Hartlepool the lead and worse was to follow. Stephen Halliday and Ian McGuckin completed a 3-0 win, Hartlepool's first at Gigg Lane and Bury's first defeat in nine matches.

Torquay have now gone 14 matches without a win after Simon Betts gave Colchester a 3-2 win at Plainmoor with an injury-time goal. Mark Kinsella had scored the fastest goal of the day after just 15 seconds to put Colchester in front.