Football: Scowcroft sinks Crewe

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The Independent Online
A HAT-TRICK by James Scowcroft gave Ipswich Town the 3-0 win over Crewe Alexandra at Gresty Road that lifted them back into second place in the Nationwide First Division, while worsening the plight of the bottom club, who are now five points adrift.

Scowcroft gave Ipswich the lead after 37 minutes when David Johnson fed Bobby Petta and the winger crossed from the by-line to leave the England under-21 international a simple tap-in from four yards. The game was put beyond doubt by Scowcroft's fine shot 12 minutes into the second half and a 74th-minute penalty.

"It was an excellent three goals," Scowcroft's manager, George Burley, said. "It was nice to win with a clean sheet. Crewe were lively but in the end it was easy."

Elsewhere, the old one-two was much in evidence. At St Andrew's, Nicky Forster rated only 75 per cent fit on Friday, scored twice to seal Birmingham City's 4-2 defeat of Bristol City. "We had a different type of attack today with two small ones up front and the approach had to be different," Trevor Francis, the Blues' manager explained. "They both are very very quick. Instead 4-4-2 we played 4-2-4, it was a very good attacking performance."

There were two two-goal strikers at the Reebok Stadium, Michael Johansen and Arnar Gunnlaugsson bagged two apiece as Bolton Wanderers thrashed Bury 4-0 to go fifth. The Shakers' boss, Neil Warnock, was blunt. "We were beaten by a better team with better players on better wages. We were very bright early in the second half when there was only one goal in it. After their second though it was very much a damage limitation exercise."

Queen's Park Rangers made it four wins in their last five games with an impressive 3-0 defeat of Bradford City at Valley Parade. Gavin Peacock, Kevin Gallen and Mike Sheron scored to move Rangers out of the relegation places. "We had Bradford watched and knew their game plan and worked on that during the week with our reserve team," Gerry Francis, the Rangers manager, revealed. "I thought we were outstanding throughout the game, but we have been outstanding throughout November."

Last week Portsmouth became the latest club to require a Professional Footballers Association loan to pay the players' wages. At least the PFA will not be required to stump up a win bonus after Pompey went down 2- 0 at Stockport County.

Last season's Gillingham versus Fulham match saw the death of a Fulham supporter and a wreath was laid before yesterday's game, won by the Gills thanks to Robert Taylor's last-minute goal.

Few Nationwide clubs are still in contention for three major trophies but Lennie Lawrence's Second Division Luton Town are. A 1-1 home draw with Manchester City kept them in the hunt for promotion. On Tuesday they visit Sunderland for a place in the Worthington Cup semi-finals and next Saturday entertain Hull for place in the third round of the FA Cup.

In Scotland, Ian Durrant scored twice as Kilmarnock's 3-0 win at Dunfermline took them to within two points of the Premier leaders, Rangers. Aberdeen also lost 3-0 at home, to Dundee United. A large gathering of Dons supporters congregated at the Pittodrie gates chanting for the dismissal of the manager, Alex Miller.