Giggs ready for action

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The Independent Online
The undoubted thrills of Premiership action may have been missing yesterday but aficionados none the less found their weekly dose of football glamour in the unlikely surrounds of the Pontins League. Ryan Giggs, for one, took his first tentative steps back to match fitness with an appearance for Manchester United Reserves while Stan Collymore finally put in an appearance for Liverpool Reserves.

Giggs inspired United's second string, sometimes known as their Coca- Cola Cup XI, to a 4-0 away win against Nottingham Forest's Reserves. Collymore, meanwhile, paid heed to the fine imposed by his club, as well as to the words of advice he received after failing to turn up for a similar match against Tranmere Rovers' second choice last week.

The contrite Collymore pulled on a Reds stiffs shirt for the first time and scored twice in the Pontins Premier Division win, also 4-0, over Sheffield Wednesday's second string. He opened his account with a magnificent strike in the 26th minute and added a second, and Liverpool's third, from the penalty spot after a foul on Michael Owen.

The Second Division pacemakers Millwall and Brentford both drew and Crewe lost, all of which made Bury the day's big gainers. They thumped York City 4-1 at Gigg Lane to go level with the Bees and to within two points of leaders Millwall, who were held 1-1 at Bristol City.

The Shakers went ahead after only eight minutes through Dean West and looked in complete control when he added a second 12 minutes later. But within a minute, Gary Himsworth pulled one back. Second-half goals by David Pugh and John O'Kane, on loan from Manchester United - well, from their reserves - confirmed the rise of a side chasing promotion for a second consecutive season.

Clambering up the section every bit as inexorably are Luton. Their 2- 0 home win over Notts County stretched the Hatters' unbeaten run to 13 matches and lifted them to fifth. Their goals - the first was Tony Thorpe's 11th of the season; the second a spectacular 40-yard free kick by Ceri Hughes - came in a two-minute spell midway through the first half.

The Third Division leaders Fulham have a better away record than home and they wasted no time at all in proving it at Cardiff where Mike Conroy put them ahead after only 55 seconds. The Londoners extended their lead 11 minutes before half time when Mark Blake tucked away a penalty.

There wasn't even time to press the panic button when Steve White reduced the Cottagers' lead a minute from time. But it stayed 2-1 and they maintain a four point lead over Cambridge United who also defeated Welsh opposition, Swansea City, 2-1 at the Abbey Stadium.