Football:Charlton pay for 'jolly' folly

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Pierre Van Hooijdonk scored a hat-trick at the City Ground as Nottingham Forest's 5-2 win over Charlton Athletic lifted them three points clear at the top of the First Division. Van Hooijdonk claimed Forest's first three goals - shots from 18 and 25 yards and a tap-in - to take his season's total to 17.

"It's nice to score five goals but the most important thing was that we collected three points," the Forest manager, Dave Bassett, said. "Now we face another tough examination at [second-placed] Middlesbrough on Wednesday."

At the end of the Pierre show, Bradley Allen pulled one back for Charlton and then Forest's Ian Woan scored twice, once for each side, to make it 4-2 before setting up Kevin Campbell's header three minutes from time.

Alan Curbishley, the Charlton manager, was disgusted. "This was a big match but we treated it like an end-of-season jolly-up. Dave Bassett told me he thought the scoreline was a little bit flattering in favour of his Forest side but I wouldn't agree. We really lost the plot today. In the final 15 minutes of the first half we lost our way and let Forest take command."

Some good news for Manchester City fans: the Sky Blues won. Tony Vaughan's 93rd-minute header looped into the net for the only goal of the home game against Bradford City.

"You never give up until the final whistle but when it's that late you begin to think it is never going to go in," the relieved City manager Frank Clark said. "That was the best performance we have put on at home all season and for a change we had a little break at the end."

City had 12 shots on target, and forced 20 corners; Bradford had two of each. And Forest were denied a penalty. "Only three people in the ground did not see it," Clark said. "I spoke to the referee. He said he and his linesmen didn't see it."

Oxford United, whose entire squad is up for sale as debts soar, lost 2-1 at Norwich City and will not have interested too many buyers in a drab match but the Queen's Park Rangers caretaker manager, John Hollins, again nudged the club-owner Chris Wright as Rangers beat Huddersfield 2-1, Nigel Quashie scoring both. "He was superb," Hollins enthused. "He's elegant, ruthless and sees things so well." As to his own prospects: "Winning helps Rangers' cause rather than mine. Unfortunately, you have to prove yourself every week."

To illustrate his last remark, Reading followed up their midweek Coca- Cola Cup win over Leeds at Elland Road with a 4-0 home defeat by fellow quarter-finalists Ipswich Town.

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