Clark deflated by loss of Stone

JON CULLEY
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The Independent Online
"In football, players get injured, you just have to accept that," Frank Clark said. There was the hint of a sardonic smile, a slight shrug of the shoulders. He was reflecting on the possibility that Steve Stone might not step on a football field again this season.

The gist of what the Forest manager was trying to say is that it is the same for everyone. He loses Stone; another club does without somebody else. Except that such equality no longer exists in today's Premiership where the uneven distribution of wealth means that some clubs are definitely more equal than others.

Even before the England winger's left knee fell apart on Saturday, the patella tendon ruptured, Clark was already being forced to use players he does not consider good enough. With Bryan Roy and Kevin Campbell nursing hamstring injuries, Clark had to recall his surplus Italian, Andrea Silenzi, and the ridiculed Jason Lee, both of whom would have been off-loaded in the summer had buyers been found.

As an illustration of hard times, it could not have been any clearer, although as it happened the poverty of Forest's performance in a low-key derby match had little to do with short- comings in front of goal.

The fact was that the home side surrendered midfield to their well-organised neighbours.They tended to give away possession as they won it, and rarely did Silenzi, in the hour that he played, or his replacement, Lee, have the opportunity to make their presence tell.

By contrast, the industry of Neil Lennon, combined with the vision and mobility of Scott Taylor and Muzzy Izzet, brought Steve Claridge and Emile Heskey into the game much more frequently. Indeed, had Leicester, who probably felt they would do well to draw, realised sooner that they were the better side, then Martin O'Neill, their manager, might have celebrated his return to the City Ground with a victory.

Nottingham Forest (4-4-2): Crossley; Cooper, Jerkan, Chettle, Pearce; Stone (Gemmill, 9), Bart-Williams, Haland, Woan; Silenzi (Lee, 60), Saunders. Substitutes not used: Phillips, Fettis (gk), Allen.

Leicester City (3-5-2): Keller; Prior, Watts, Walsh; Grayson, Lennon, Taylor (Parker, 72), Izzet, Whitlow; Heskey, Claridge (Marshall, 76). Substitutes not used: Poole (gk), Robins, Lawrence.

Referee: P Allcock (Redhill).

Bookings: Forest: Cooper, Jerkan; Leicester: Whitlow.

Man of the match: Lennon.

Attendance: 24,105.

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