Evans adds value

Nottingham Forest 1 Pearce pen 88 Southampton 3 Magilton 8, Ev ans 87, 89 Attendance: 25,134
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The Independent Online
The jeers and boos that followed Forest's players down the tunnel at the finish can't have drowned the distant rumble of the tumbrils that would seem to be taking them out of the Premiership and into a season of Nationwide football. New regime or no, the City Ground is not a happy place.

Southampton were well worth the three points which lifted them off the bottom of the table, as their commitment and determination to impose their will on Forest showed with every tackle. The visitors had something of a dream start when Jim Magilton suddenly discovered hitherto hidden shooting power to drive a 35-yard shot into an unsighted Mark Crossley's net after seven minutes.

Forest's response was a Colin Cooper shot Mark Taylor pushed for a corner, which saw Stuart Pearce head narrowly wide. The defender's assistance up front was badly needed as both Pierre Van Hooijdonk and Dean Saunders were finding Jason Dodd and his cohorts a tough obstacle. It was only when Bryan Roy replaced Ian Woan, an ineffectual, wan figure wide on the left for an hour, that Forest showed any evidence of knowing the way to goal.

Van Hooijdonk did find the net in the second half with an even more spectacular effort than Magilton's but the referee had already blown for a foul.

Forest's anxiety was increasingly laced with panic as the minutes ticked away and another blow was delivered when Mickey Evans, who had replaced Matt Le Tissier in the 72nd minute, was gifted a scoring chance he couldn't ignore by a careless headed back pass by Pearce in the 87th minute.

A minute later, another Southampton substitute, Alan Neilson, pulled the legs from under Van Hooijdonk and the Forest player-manager made some sort of amends by thumping the penalty beyond Taylor. Forest did not need salt poured into their wounds but Evans did just that on the final whistle when he carried Eyal Berkovic's defence-splitting pass into the penalty area to force the third past Crossley.

The ease with which Scot Gemmill and David Phillips were brushed aside in the midfield scuffling that is commonplace when sides struggling for survival meet put Forest on the back foot for most of the game. Even with Le Tissier in far from sparkling mood, Robbie Slater, Matthew Oakley and especially the incisive Berkovic were allowed far too much scope.