Football: Bassett calls for action replay

Leicester City 3 Nottingham Forest 1
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The Independent Online
ENGLAND BATSMAN Mike Atherton may no longer be so keen after his dubious dismissal by the third umpire in Adelaide, but allowing officials to consult television evidence before making key decisions did not lose credibility with everyone this weekend.

The Forest manager, Dave Bassett, advocated extending the idea to the football Premiership after the incident that effectively changed the course of this match and extended Forest's sequence of games without a victory to 14.

"I don't say we should do it for every decision, because that would slow the game down too much, but, when it leads to a goal, it is important that the official gets it right. A single wrong decision can ruin all the effort you put in," he said.

The decision in question came early in the second half when Chris Bart- William's attempted clearance struck the hand of his colleague Andy Johnson and the referee, Mike Riley, pointed to the penalty spot. Others might have regarded it as accidental, but Leicester's Matt Elliott was equally unforgiving, thumping the kick into the roof of the net to give his side a lead they scarcely deserved.

"That was the turning point", said Bassett. "Until then we had done everything right and were playing with confidence. It was accidental handball but it gave the initiative to them".

His opposite number, Martin O'Neill, had some sympathy with his view. "If the penalty had been awarded against us I would have felt it was harsh," he said. Even so, Forest could have put the incident behind them and set about pulling back on level terms. But instead of getting even, they got mad.

Johnson earned himself an instant booking for a foul on Neil Lennon before Pierre van Hooijdonk went several steps further with a challenge on Steve Walsh that produced the red card. When he went, so did any chance Forest had of rescuing something from the game.

It was Van Hooijdonk who had given Forest an early lead, coolly converting after Marlon Harewood had dispossessed Walsh. And, but for a fine save by Kasey Keller from Harewood, they might have been well on the way to that elusive win before a tentative Leicester showed any sign of justifying their relatively exalted Premiership placing.

Not until two minutes before half-time did Steve Guppy's growing influence make itself felt, his precise cross from the left being side-footed home by Emile Heskey for Leicester's equaliser.

"It was hard work for us but Guppy was outstanding", said O'Neill.

By the time the Leicester winger scored the best goal of the afternoon, shimmying across the face of the penalty area and sending a couple of defenders the wrong way before gliding a low shot into the far corner of Dave Beasant's goal, the controversial penalty had been awarded and this East Midlands derby was already beyond recall for Forest.

Goals: Van Hooijdonk (14) 0-1; Heskey (43) 1-1; Elliott (pen 55) 2-1; Guppy (75) 3-1.

Leicester City (3-1-4-2): Keller; Walsh (Fenton, 75), Ullathorne, Kaamark; Lennon; Impey, Zagorakis (Savage, 68), Izzet, Guppy; Elliott, Heskey (Parker, 86), Substitutes not used: Arphexad (gk), Taggart.

Nottingham Forest (3-5-2): Beasant; Mattssen, Chettle, Hjelde (Freedman, 74); Stone, Johnson, Gemmill, Bart-Williams, Rogers; Harewood (Shipperley, 81), Van Hooijdonk. Substitutes not used: Crossley, Armstrong, Gray.

Referee: M Riley (Leeds).

Sending-off: Van Hooijdonk. Bookings: Forest Harewood, Johnson, Mattssen.

Man of the match: Guppy.

Attendance: 20,891.