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KEVIN CAMPBELL blasted a 15 minute first-half hat-trick to send Forest into pole position at the top of the First Division.

Forest's magnificent first- half display confirmed Dave Bassett's men as favourites for automatic promotion to the Premiership.

But Bassett refused to get carried away, saying: "We got off to a good start but in the second half we were a bit sloppy."

But he was pleased with the way Chris Bart-Williams moved into an unaccustomed centre forward position alongside Campbell.

"I felt we needed a bit of strength up front and it worked today. I've always felt Bart could play up front.

"And I'm pleased for Kevin too. He normally only gets one goal in 11 games and gets a bit of stick. But people overlook the fact that he's usually involved in everything we create.

"But to get a hat-trick means he'll receive all the plaudits and awards and I'm pleased."

Bassett would not get drawn into Premiership talk but did concede: "If you'd asked me at the start of the season how I'd feel if we had 71 points three-quarters of the way through the season I would have told you I'd be delighted. But ask me about the Premiership only if we get there."

Forest's first-half display revolved around Campbell and Bart-Williams.

Bart-Williams struck first when, with only 10 minutes gone, he turned Lee Unsworth and hit a left-foot shot which went in off the post.

But before the first goal it was Crewe who were in control. Fran Tierney, Marcus Bignot and Colin Little all made good runs down the flanks.

But the difference was Forest's incisiveness. Several times Ian Woan hit exquisite crossfield passes to Steve Stone, and French international right back Theirry Bonalair - in for the suspended Des Lyttle - looked composed going forward.

Little came close to putting Crewe level when Jason Kearton's kick bounced into the box, but Little spurned the chance.

Forest immediately went 2-0 up when Stone's through ball down the right found Bonalair, who sent in a great cross and Campbell bundled it past Kearton.

Crewe battled on and came close when a mis-timed Dave Beasant clearance fell to Kenny Lunt, only for Jon Olav Hjelde to clear.

Crewe were left shellshocked when Forest quickly scored their third.

Bart-Williams turned provider as he put Campbell clear in the box and he easily lifted the ball over Kearton.

Three minutes later Campbell nearly set up number four when he laid the ball off to Stone.

Crewe pulled one back when Little met a Gareth Whalley cross to head past Beasant.

But straight from the restart Forest got their fourth and Campbell his third when he latched on to a long ball to blast past Kearton.

The second half was much more pedestrian with Forest happy to take their foot off the pedal.

Their best chance fell to Woan, whose 25-yard free kick rattled the crossbar.
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Title Annotation:Sport
Author:Cook, Garry
Publication:Sunday Mirror (London, England)
Date:Mar 8, 1998
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