Football: Van Hooijdonk steals thunder

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The Independent Online
Nottingham Forest went back to the top of the First Division after two thunderous free-kicks by Pierre Van Hooij-donk broke Crewe Alexandra's resistance at the City Ground and set up a 3-1 win.

Kevin Campbell had given Forest a 10th-minute lead when he raced on to Van Hooijdonk's flick to beat Jason Kearton. Five minutes later, Steve Anthrobus fired across Forest's goal and Colin Little equalised at the far post. Thereafter, Kearton kept Forest at bay until Van Hooijdonk stepped up to convert those second-half free-kicks, taking his season's tally to 14.

The division's top scorers, Charlton, moved up to third place after a 3-0 win over Ipswich at The Valley. Clive Mendonca's 10th goal of the season set Athletic on their way in the 10th minute. Carl Leaburn headed into Mendonca's path and he rounded goalkeeper Richard Wright to side- foot in. Defender Phil Chapple's diving header tucked away Mark Kinsella's corner and Leaburn, who has been out of contract for 15 months, added the third in the final minute.

Fourth-placed Sheffield United gave their fans a fright before beating Tranmere 2-1 at Bramall Lane. With seven minutes remaining, they trailed to a David Kelly goal but the Blades found their cutting edge through late strikes from Carl Tiler and substitute Gareth Taylor, who grabbed the winner from Brian Deane's pass.

On a day when draws dominated the division - there were six in 10 games - bottom of the table Huddersfield Town sent the crowd in the McAlpine Stadium home happy at last when they won their first league game of the season, beating Stoke City 3-1.

John Spencer, the Queen's Park Rangers striker, was stretchered off during the 1-1 draw with Birmingham City at Loftus Road. "He landed badly on his ankle and inverted it," his manager Stewart Houston said. "We will just have to assess it from day to day."

Steve Mautone, the Reading goalkeeper, was injured during the warm-up before the game at Port Vale. Reserve keeper Nicky Hammond kept a clean sheet in the 0-0 draw. "It looks as though [Mautone] will need a cartilage operation," the Reading manager Terry Bullivant said, "but Nicky Hammond has a chance to impress. That's nine without defeat. I'm confident we can turn more of our draws into victories."

Even at this early stage of the season, Watford are beginning to run away with the Second Division. The Hornets beat Blackpool 4-1, Jason Lee scoring twice, to open up an eight-point lead.