Football: Mills' treble is such a boon

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The Independent Online
LEE MILLS scored a hat-trick in 55 minutes as Bradford City beat Crewe Alexandra 4-1 to go second in the Nationwide First Division. The striker, signed for pounds 1m from Port Vale in the summer, grabbed his first, a header from Wayne Jacobs' left-wing cross, after 24 minutes.

His second, four minutes from half-time, came as he shrugged off Mark Foran's challenge and fired in from 25 yards. Mills completed his hat- trick 10 minutes into the second half to take his season's total to 19 goals and increase Bradford's unbeaten run to seven games, six of them wins.

"I was delighted for Lee," Paul Jewell, the Bradford manager and last man to score a hat-trick for the club, in 1994, said. "He shows great work-rate and determination and works hard in both penalty areas."

Bradford leapfrogged Birmingham City, who were held to a goalless draw at Barnsley, and Ipswich Town, who play at the leaders, Sunderland, this afternoon. Bolton Wanderers followed hard on Bradford's heels into third place with a 2-1 win at Sheffield United, who missed their fifth consecutive penalty, Wayne Quinn the latest culprit.

Wanderers trailed the Blades after 33 minutes when Andy Campbell, on- loan from Middlesbrough, scored his first ever league goal. But Dean Holdsworth, brother of the Blades' captain David, equalised for Wanderers at the back post in the last minute of the first half and wrapped up the win with his second goal, and seventh of the season, in the 72nd minute. Bolton are unbeaten in 11 league games.

"People say we don't have any resilience or resolve but we've really shown it today," Colin Todd, the Bolton manager, enthused. Steve Bruce, the Blades' manager, was "appalled" by several of the "crazy" refereeing decisions. "We could have won it," he felt.

Grimsby Town consolidated their sixth place with a 1-0 win over lowly Oxford United. "Not one of our most fluent performances," Alan Buckley, the Mariners' manager, said. Paul Groves got the game's only goal, his 13th of the season, just past the half-hour.

Down among the strugglers, Port Vale lost at home to Swindon Town, George Ndah scoring the only goal of the game. "We worked hard enough but we have got to do more than that," the Vale manager, John Rudge, said. "We have to fight for our lives. We need leaders on the pitch who will make things happen. At the moment we have too many players waiting for things to happen. "

In the Second Division, Bristol Rovers caught the Premiership goal-spree bug and won 6-0 at Reading. Remarkably, all the goals came in the second half, Jamie Cureton scoring four.

The Third Division leaders, Cardiff City, lost 2-1 at Peterborough United, Giuliano Grazioli scoring a last-minute winner for Barry Fry's side.

Finally, Mansfield Town's Tony Ford made his 825th league appearance breaking Terry Paine's previous record. His day was marked with the presentation of a magnum of champagne and a commemorative letter by Chris Hull of the Football League and by a 3-0 defeat from party poopers Plymouth Argyle at Home Park.