Howard sends Hatters top
By Peter O`Rourke. Last Updated: January 1, 1970 1:00am
LUTON moved to the top of Divison Three on goal difference with a thumping 4-0 win over Hull City at Boothferry Park as Plymouth were held to a goalless draw at home to Southend.
A Steven Howard hat-trick inspired Joe Kinnear's men to the three points and made sure Jan Molby's first game in charge of The Tigers ended in disappointment.
Howard netted his first after 23 minutes and Dean Crowe doubled the lead 15 minutes later.
The Hatters made sure of the win with the third from Howard after 79 minutes and he completed his hat-trick a minute from time.
Plymouth missed the chance to stay ahead after a goalless draw with Southend, but Paul Sturrock's men still have a game in hand over Luton in the race for the title.
Cheltenham's promotion hopes suffered a blow after a narrow 1-0 defeat at Macclesfield.
Matthew Tipton hit the winning goal for the home side six minutes from time.
Mansfield boosted their promotion hopes with a comfortable 2-0 win over Bristol Rovers.
On-loan midfielder Adam Murray opened the scoring after 57 minutes and Andy White made sure of the win in the 79th minute with the second goal.
Rochdale moved into fifth spot with a convincing 3-1 win over Darlington.
Barry Conlon fired the visitors in front after just four minutes, but Clive Platt drew the sides level just three minutes later.
Lee McEvilly gave the home side the lead in the 27th minute and Paul Simpson wrapped up the victory with the third eight minutes later.
Rushden & Diamonds fall to sixth after a 1-1 draw at fellow promotion hopefuls Scunthorpe.
The home side went in front on the stroke of half time with an unfortunate own goal from Paul Underwood.
Onandi Lowe earned the visitors a point 11 minutes from time.
Shrewsbury kept in touch with the play-off chase with a hard-fought 1-0 win over Carlisle.
The visitors were faced with a mountain to climb when Peter Murphy was sent-off after just 22 minutes.
Ryan Lowe hit the winner for the home side after 38 minutes to lift them to seventh spot.
Hartlepool maintained their slim hopes of making the play-offs with a 2-0 win at already relegated Halifax.
Gordon Watson opened the scoring after just nine minutes and Graeme Lee doubled the lead in the 63rd minute.
Kidderminster's play-off hopes suffered a major blow after a 1-1 draw with Lincoln.
Drewe Broughton opened the scoring after 48 minutes, but David Cameron earned the visitors a priceless point in the last-minute.
York climbed further away from trouble with a 1-0 win at Swansea with Scott Jones hitting the winner 12 minutes from time.
Oxford remain in the bottom four after a 1-1 draw with Leyton Orient.
David McGhee had given the O's the lead after 58 minutes, but Andrew Scott grabbed the home side a valuable draw 11 minutes from time.
Halifax v Hartlepool
Hull v Luton
Kidderminster v Lincoln
Macclesfield v Cheltenham
Mansfield v Bristol Rovers
Oxford v Leyton Orient
Plymouth v Southend
Rochdale v Darlington
Scunthorpe v Rushden
Shrewsbury v Carlisle
Swansea v York
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