Forster fearsome as Reading roar on

Nationwide Review
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The Independent Football

Reading are beginning to take a firm grip on the race for the Second Division title. Their 3-0 home win over Colchester United has opened up a nine-point gap at the top.

Reading are beginning to take a firm grip on the race for the Second Division title. Their 3-0 home win over Colchester United has opened up a nine-point gap at the top.

Alan Pardew's side went ahead after 38 minutes when Nicky Forster tucked away a penalty – that's six consecutive games in which he has scored – and, three minutes into the second period, Andy Hughes made it 2-0. Forster's second goal of the game, and 14th of the season, wrapped up the three points.

Stoke City missed the chance to make up ground on their rivals when they were held to a 2-2 draw by Wigan Athletic at the Britannia Stadium. Wigan were twice ahead, goals by Scott Green and Tony Dinning separated by Marc Goodfellow's first equaliser for The Potters. A Rikhardur Dadason penalty earnt Stoke's point, but they stay fourth.

Huddersfield Town and Queen's Park Rangers, both relegated last season, are on the fringes of the play-offs with the tantalising promise of a quick return to the First Division. When they met at the McAlpine Stadium, it took an Andy Booth goal to separate them. Huddersfield's 1-0 win took them up to sixth.

At the top of the Third Division, Plymouth Argyle increased their lead to seven points thanks to a 4-2 win over Oxford United at Home Park, and second-placed Luton Town's defeat at Darlington.

Goals by Graham Coughlan and Lee Hodges in a four-minute burst put Argyle 2-0 up after 24 minutes, but Oxford rallied and as David Morley and Paul Powell netted it seemed that the Bulls would reach the interval level. Ian Stonebridge's goal in first-half injury time gave Argyle the lead again. A minute into the second half, the former Spurs youth player added his second and Argyle's fourth.

Luton led twice at Darlington but when they went 2-1 up the stage was set for Mark Sheeran, who struck twice in the last nine minutes to give the Quakers a 3-2 win.

There was sweet revenge for John Hollins at Spotland. Sacked by Swansea City earlier in the season and hired by Rochdale when Steve Parkin moved to Barnsley, the former Chelsea manager saw his side beat the Swans 2-0 and move up to fourth. Also in the play-off places, Hull City had a comfortable 3-0 win over – and moved above – visitors Shrewsbury Town.

Halifax Town lost 4-0 at Scunthorpe United to stay rooted at the bottom, but Torquay United picked up a point when Eifion Williams' late equaliser gave them a 1-1 draw at Southend United.

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