Football: Basham presses on

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STEVE BASHAM scored twice as Preston North End maintained their dogged pursuit of Kevin Keegan's Fulham at the top of the Second Division yesterday.

Basham and Jonathan Macken earned Preston a 3-0 victory over Northampton at Deepdale but they are 12 points adrift of the Londoners. Perhaps more significantly the three points maintained their advantage over Bournemouth and Manchester City, who won their matches earlier in the day.

Richard Hughes produced a goal of the season contender to set up Bournemouth's 2-1 victory over Colchester United. Hughes, who rejoined the Bournemouth squad after the Scottish Under-21 game with Bosnia was postponed, scored what proved to be the winner with a 25-yard shot five minutes before the interval following a neat set-piece.

The spectacular strike completed a fightback after David Greene had headed Colchester into a surprise lead after 20 minutes from Warren Aspinall's corner. Bournemouth equalised in the 35th minute thanks to another well- struck shot from Christer Warren.

Gillingham's promotion push lost ground at Luton where Sean Dyche scored the only goal three minutes before the break to bring some joy to a club in the hands of the receivers.

Stoke came from two goals down to end Wigan's eight-match winning streak and put their own play-off plans on track. Andy Liddell and Stuart Barlow had put Oldham in front but Peter Thorne and Graham Kavanagh hit back before Greg Strong, signed on loan from Bolton, scored Stoke's winner.

In the Third Division, goals by Kevin Nugent and Jason Bowen allowed Cardiff to move back to the top with a 2-1 victory over Carlisle and plunged the Cumbrians into relegation danger. A debut hat-trick for Eifion Williams, a deadline day signing from Barry Town, gave Torquay and 3-0 win over struggling Hartlepool, who stayed off the bottom only on goals scored.