NOTTINGHAM FOREST reclaimed pole position in the chase for promotion to the Premiership with their seventh win in nine Nationwide League matches at the City Ground last night. It was a victory made possible chiefly by two goals from Pierre van Hooijdonk, who cemented his position as the First Division's top scorer by increasing his tally to 27.
The scoreline in the end looked comfortable although until the last 20 minutes Huddersfield's growing reputation as a difficult side to overcome seemed justified.
Although 19th in the First Division going into last night's contest, their position is misleading given the revival brought about by the manager Peter Jackson since he was appointed to work alongside Terry Yorath in October.
Although beaten at Ipswich on Saturday, the 5-1 defeat was Huddersfield's first away from home since last November.
Nonetheless, there were warning signs before Van Hooijdonk claimed the advantage for the home side. Space opened up for Thierry Bonalair and Des Lyttle within the space of 30 seconds and although their efforts each soared into the seats, Steve Harper had to react quickly to foil Kevin Campbell after a neat through ball from Scot Gemmill.
Even so, Van Hooijdonk's goal came out of nothing, the former Celtic striker receiving the ball wide on the left and unleashing a powerful curling right foot from 30 yards into the top left hand corner of the goal.
Huddersfield's response was to mount a period of sustained pressure in the second half, during which they were unlucky not to draw level when Colin Cooper cleared Wayne Allison's header off the line and Barry Horne saw a well-struck shot beaten out by Dave Beasant.
Their hopes of reward were dashed, however, when the former Forest man, David Phillips, saw his attempted clearance cannon off his own arm and into the path of Bonalair, who accepted an easy goal
Van Hooijdonk then claimed his second goal of the night nine minutes from time, chipping the ball over the advancing Harper.
Nottingham Forest: (4-4-2) Beasant; Lyttle, Cooper, Chettle, Rogers (Armstong, 85); D Johnson, A Johnson (Thomas, 81), Gemmill, Bonalair; Campbell, Van Hooijdonk (Moore, 84).
Huddersfield Town: (3-5-2) Harper; Watts, Phillips, Gray; Jenkins, Horne, G Johnson, Smith, Edwards; Stewart (Dalton, 62), Allison. Substitutes not used: Barnes, Dyer.
Referee: T Heilbron (Co Durham).