Prolific Aldridge

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The Independent Online
THEY have been, it seems, in the thick of the promotion fight at the top of the Endsleigh First Division for at least five years and they are there again. We are, of course, talking Tranmere Rovers, who humbled Derby County 5-1 at Prenton Park to go fourth.

Rovers went ahead in the 13th minute when Pat Nevin followed up after Ged Brannan's shot had been blocked. They never lost control thereafter. John Aldridge scored twice - the first from Ian Moore's cross, the second three minutes from time - to take his season's tally to 11.

There were also considerable scoring exploits at Stoke City and Sheffield United, and you don't get many of those a season. The Potters beat lowly Luton 5-0, substitute Simon Sturridge scoring twice. Carl Veart also scored two as the Blades thumped troubled Portsmouth 4-1 after Pompey had led.

Barnsley moved up to fifth with a 1-0 win over Wolves and, after last week's win at Leicester, Crystal Palace came crashing down to earth when Reading won 2-0 at Selhurst Park. It was Reading's first away win of the season. Palace have not won at home since the first day of the season.

Despite being held to a 1-1 home draw by Blackpool, Swindon still have a six point lead at the top of the Second Division. They head cultured Crewe, who drew at Rotherham, and Notts County, who won a seven goal thriller at Burnley, Paul Devlin scoring twice in their 4-3 win.

It has been coming for some weeks. After another drawn game, Gillingham were finally toppled from the top of the Third Division. Preston, the new leaders, crushed Leyton Orient, not good travellers, 4-0 at Deepdale. Second-placed Chester's good run continued. They won 4-1 against Torquay, who at least had the consolation of halving last week's goals against.

In Scotland, Rangers returned to the bliss of domestic dominance after their Champions' League humiliation by Juventus and beat the substantially less formidable Falkirk 2-0 at Ibrox. Ally McCoist scored both; his season's total is eight. "It was important to get a win after what happened in midweek," Walter Smith, the Rangers manager, said combining cliche and understatement in the same breath.

Raith, clearly exhausted after being the only British team to score a goal in European competition all week, lost 5-1 at mighty Kilmarnock.