Robinson puts Charlton in touch

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JUST when it seemed as though Derby County were about to romp away from the Endsleigh First Division pack, Port Vale hauled them back by the collar which enabled Charlton, thumping 4-1 winners over West Brom at the Valley, to close the gap at the top to five points with a game in hand.

Charlton were ahead after four minutes when Stuart Naylor could only parry Kim Grant's powerful shot and John Robinson was first to the loose ball. Twelve minutes later, Grant missed Shaun Newton's cross but Robinson, at the far post, didn't. He should have had a hat-trick with a 37th-minute penalty. Naylor saved it but was beaten again before half-time by Jamie Stuart's close range strike.

Andy Hunt pulled one back - he made his spot-kick count - but the Robin's fifth successive win was sealed by another penalty; Paul Mortimer made no mistake.

Previous managers of Derby have spent cash as freely as a duchess but the present incumbent, Jim Smith, is getting value for money. The Rams had to scrap for a point at a gusty Vale Park and took the lead a minute before the break. Darryl Powell nodded down Gary Rowett's corner and Dean Sturridge, four yards out, toed in the ball.

Sturridge, always a menace to Vale, had a goal disallowed which gave the home side heart, and they equalised when Ian Bogie's quickly taken free-kick caught the Rams snoozing. Jon McCarthy crossed for Tony Naylor to head home.

Southend moved up to fourth with a 2-1 win over Portsmouth. Mark McNally, whose mistake had gifted Pompey a Paul Hall goal, scrambled in a left- wing corner for the equaliser. There were six minutes left when Steve Tilson took off to head in Chris Powell's centre from the left. But other contenders faltered.

Third-placed Huddersfield were held to a goalless draw at home by Oldham, and Stoke, fifth, lost 1-0 at Reading whosejoint player-manager Mick Gooding scored a fine individual goal.

Millwall at last got back to winning ways, Alex Rae scoring twice as the Lions roared back into form with a 2-1 win at Grimsby, only the second home defeat for the Mariners.

The "Chase out" chorus was back on song after last week's day-off occasioned by Norwich's win at Sunderland. Yesterday, the Canaries lost 1-0 at home to Luton. Boncho Genchev's true penalty was the Hatters' first shot on target and they spent most of the remaining 57 minutes defending the lead - desperately, all of their back four were booked. Norwich have not won at home for eight games. Mick Wadsworth, the Carlisle director of coaching, will join the Norfolk club as assistant manager in the week. "He's a good coach and I am sure we will benefit from his experience," Gary Megson, the Norwich manager, said.

Luton's win lifted them off the bottom. Sheffield United, unbeaten since Howard Kendall took over, replace them after Watford forced a 1-1 draw at Bramall Lane. And, old gold glory be, Wolves finally won a League match under Mark McGhee. They beat Tranmere, fast fading like the evening light, 2-1.