Football: Lucketti on Forest's side

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The Independent Online
GOOD luck and the ability to take advantage of it is a vital ingredient in winning anything in sport and Nottingham Forest showed they were made of the right stuff when, after struggling to make headway against a stubborn Bury side at the City Ground, they were gifted a fortunate own goal and made it the platform for a comfortable 3-0 win which took them back to the top of the Nationwide First Division.

The crucial first goal, after 63 minutes, came from a Chris Bart-Williams cross. Chris Lucketti, belying his name, headed into his own goal to unleash a series of dangerous Forest raids. Five minutes later Bart-Williams charged into the area, crossed to the far post and Pierre Van Hooijdonk volleyed his 29th goal of the season. Six minutes from time, the full back Alan Rogers scored his first Forest goal.

In the battle for the play-off places, sixth-placed Sheffield United thrashed sinking Reading 4-0 at Bramall Lane while Ipswich Town, fifth, won 1-0 at fellow hopefuls Stockport County, the prolific ex-Bury striker David Johnson scoring his 25th of the season.

At the bottom, Stoke City's wretched run got worse - no win in 11 games since Chris Kamara took over as manager - with a 5-1 defeat at Oxford United. The Potters' neighbours, Port Vale, leapt out of the relegation places by beating imperilled Manchester City 2-1 at Vale Park.

And Swindon Town's purchase last week of the Gillingham striker Iffy Onoura paid immediate dividends at Queen's Park Rangers when he scored the winner four minutes into first-half injury time. But the plaudits should go to Alan McDonald, the Robins' former QPR centre-back, who went into goal when Fraser Digby was sent off in the 20th minute, with the score 1-1, for handling outside the area. McDonald kept a clean sheet. "I think he must have written his script last night on what would be the best way to come back to Loftus Road," Steve McMahon, the Swindon manager, said.

New leaders in the Second Division, too, as Watford could only draw at home, 1-1, with the bottom club, Southend United, while Bristol City won their local derby against Rovers, 2-0, to go top on goals scored.

In Scotland, Willie Falconer, the Motherwell striker, scored three minutes from time as Well beat the champions, Rangers, 2-1. If Celtic beat Dundee United today they will lead the Premier by seven points and make Walter Smith's pursuit of Rangers' tenth successive title look harder. "We are hoping to keep it going and keep up the pressure," Smith said, "but we need to do a bit more than we did today."

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