Edwards inspires Huddersfield

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Rob Edwards, who cost only pounds 150,000 from Crewe at the beginning of last month, scored two splendid goals last night to push Huddersfield back into the play-off places as the race for promotion from the Endsleigh League First Division closed up into an even tighter tussle as his hot streak in a Huddersfield shirt continued at the expense of struggling Reading.

Edwards scored in the 51st and 68th minutes as Huddersfield beat Reading 3-1 at the McAlpine Stadium, their first victory since 9 March. Reading, in trouble at the bottom of the division, took the lead after 32 minutes when a Darren Caskey corner was firmly headed home by Adrian Williams.

Huddersfield showed more urgency in the second half and were rewarded within six minutes of the restart as Edwards scored via a post after a long throw by Tom Cowan.

Huddersfield took the lead after a half-cleared free-kick was nodded back into the box by Ronnie Jepson and Edwards lobbed the ball home. Victory was sealed six minutes from time when Andy Booth headed home Mark Ward's curling centre.

Southend United's hopes of being in the post-season shake-up faded further when they were Beaten 3-0 at Sheffield United, where Andy Walker, a pounds 500,000 buy from Celtic, scored twice in a 10-minute spell to help pull his side further from the relegation zone. David White had opened the scoring from 25 yards in the 19th minute after a build-up involving Roger Nilsen and Walker.

Portsmouth's advance from the bottom ran aground at Birmingham, who halted their own drift from a place among the promotion candidates with a 2-0 victory at St Andrew's.

Paul Barnes, Birmingham's recent capture from York, grabbed his third goal in six games when he opened the scoring after 18 minutes, and Paul Devlin, another new Barry Fry signing, converted a 78th-minute penalty.

Luton and Oldham won to put pressure on Reading at the bottom. Luton's 2-0 victory at West Bromwich opened up the relegation scrap, with Boncho Genchev, a substitute for Bulgaria against England at Wembley last week, and Kim Grant scoring the goals.

Albion, whose own revival had seen them lose only once in their previous 11 games, fell behind in the 22nd minute, when he headed home a cross from Tony Thorpe. Then, in the 84th minute, Grant scored his second goal in two games for Luton after his pounds 250,000 deadline-day move from Charlton.

A 58th-minute goal by Stuart Barlow proved enough to give Oldham only their third win in 16 games. A deep cross from their teenage full-back Scott McNiven was headed back by Gerry Creaney and Barlow headed home from close range.

The Third Division leaders, Blackpool, suffered a setback to their promotion challenge when they were beaten 1-0 at Chesterfield, who thereby strengthened their hold on the final play-off place. A stunning volleyed goal by Paul Holland in the 55th minute lit up an otherwise dull game in front of a crowd of more than 7,000, the biggest of the season for Chesterfield.