Tranmere shaken by tremors on day of shocks

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The Independent Online
Tranmere Rovers, poised to take over the lead in the First Division yesterday in the event of any slip-up by Middlesbrough, instead stepped on the banana skin themselves, landing on the seat of their pants with a resounding thud in a 5-0 defeat against Derby County at the Baseball Ground.

Injury was added to insult when John King's pretenders discovered that Bryan Robson's team had indeed done some backsliding of their own, dropping a couple of home points to Sheffield United. But it was nothing to the insults flying around at Ayresome Park where Jan ge Fjrtoft was described as a "cheat"and Uwe Fuchs' tackle on Kevin Gage - for which he was sent off - as "disgraceful"by United's manager, Dave Bassett.

Rovers' return to their early season away-day blues cost them even more dearly, since Bolton's 1-0 win against relegation-fearful Sunderland meant that the Coca-Cola Cup runners-up moved up into second place at Tranmere's expense; ample revenge for Friday's defeat at Prenton Park.

Even so, Bolton's comparative impotency must be worrying their manager, Bruce Rioch; they have failed to score more than a goal in any of their last 10 games and had to wait until the 87th minute before John McGinlay found the mark this time.

Apart from doing wonders for their confidence, Derby's high five also revived their own promotion hopes after taking just one point from nine. Their Welsh international midfielder, Mark Pembridge, led the way and his brace was supported by Lee Mills, Paul Williams and Marco Gabbiadini.

It was Reading, however, who infiltrated the top five, thanks to an own goal by the Luton striker John Taylor, which lifted the Royals above Barnsley, 1-0 losers at Grimsby.

Southampton's race to safety in the Premiership continued unabated at Selhurst Park where Wimbledon were again made to pay by Matthew Le Tissier, whose 10th goal in 12 games against them made it five wins out of six for the Saints. At this rate they might even qualify for the Inter-Toto Cup.

Liverpool's place in Europe next season is already assured following their Coca-Cola triumph but there was no easing up against Leicester. They won with goals from Robbie Fowler and Ian Rush, both scored after Leicester had Mike Whitlow sent off.

Not for the first time in their lives, Coventry could be getting that sinking feeling after Stan Collymore's 23rd goal ensured defeat at the City Ground and consolidated Nottingham Forest's third-place position.

It is all change again at the top of the Second after Brentford's 2-0 win at Leyton Orient hoisted them above above Birmingham, surprise 1-0 losers at struggling Cambridge United, and Huddersfield, held at home by Hull. Carlisle, hoping for confirmation of their championship triumph in the Third and with it promotion, in the end were granted neither, as they, too, came a cropper on the old Fyffes, losing at home - for the first time this season - to Hartlepool, of all teams.