Cooper's coup

Click to follow
The Independent Online
Nottingham Forest 3

Roy 27, Lee 68, Cooper 90

Bolton Wanderers 2

Sneekes 22, De Freitas 78

Attendance: 25,426

THIS was a tale of two keepers, one moody and one magnificent. Fortunately for Forest, the careless mood of Mark Crossley was not matched by his colleagues in front of the Bolton goal.

Crossley had seemingly gifted the visitors their first away point of the season when he scuffed a nonchalant clearance into the path of substitute Fabian De Freitas, who gratefully skipped past the keeper to accept the vacant net. However, in the final minute, a more balanced scoreline was restored when Forest centre-back Colin Cooper outjumped a panicking Bolton defence to power a header down and out of the grasp of Bolton keeper Keith Branagan.

The fact that the visitors were still in the battle was largely thanks to Branagan. The constant Forest menace was denied repeatedly by Branagan's athleticism and alertness.

Both sides were happy to sacrifice blood and thunder for possession, though Bolton rarely converted patient passing moves into incisive attack. Too often the final ball was hopefully drilled to two predictable strikers, with Alan Thompson under-utilised on the left-flank.

The visitors took the lead, though, in the first half when Richard Sneekes broke that stereotyped approach to let fly from the right edge of the area. Crossley seemed deceived by a slight deflection and could only parry into his goal.

The Bolton advantage was short-lived, the ball falling kindly for Ian Woan whose sweet drive into the crowded area was turned instinctively into the goal by the reinstated Bryan Roy.

Forest's 22-game unbeaten Premiership run looked likely to be extended when Steve Stone robbed Mark Patterson, attempting to shield the ball out for a goal-kick, and pulled a cross back for a simple Jason Lee tap- in. The late cavalry charge for the winning strike following Crossley's blunder was, in the eyes of Forest manager Frank Clark, a product of his side's "best performance of the season in terms of character and commitment".

Bolton's Colin Todd placed the result into perspective: "They are an experienced side, but we have come a long way in a short time. I thought we frustrated the opposition into having a lot of possession inside their own half."