Football: Campbell double puts Forest clear

Nottingham Forest 3 Sheffield United 0
Click to follow
The Independent Online
NOTTINGHAM Forest extended their First Division lead to four points last night as the FA Cup semi-finalists endured an unsatisfactory preparation for Sunday's match against Newcastle at Old Trafford. It was the heaviest defeat of United's season and a setback to their hopes of combining cup heroics with promotion.

Stung by losing at Charlton last Saturday, Forest established a two- goal lead by the 27th minute. The second of those came from the head of Kevin Campbell, who struck again nine minutes from the end to raise his tally in the most productive season of his career to 21.

For once, Campbell's performance overshadowed leading scorer Pierre van Hooijdonk, who could not add to his 31, although only a fine save by Simon Tracey, standing in for injured goalkeeper Alan Kelly, stopped the Dutchman's curling free-kick in the 20th minute. And it was after his header had been blocked on the line that Campbell forced home the third.

The lead was provided by Geoff Thomas, cleverly turning the ball home at the near post after a neat exchange between Alan Rogers and Chris Bart- Williams on the left flank. Thomas was forced out through injury after 35 minutes. By then, however, Campbell had doubled the advantage. Again Bart-Williams supplied a near-post cross, this time from the right.

The Yorkshire side's response was disjointed, even though they managed to hit the woodwork twice through Chris Wilder and Graham Stuart. Better in the second half, they were able to threaten the home side's superiority, although Forest goalkeeper Dave Beasant's involvement was minimal.

Bart-Williams squandered the chance to put the issue beyond doubt 13 minutes into the second half when he failed to control Steve Stone's inviting pass; but Campbell rendered the miss unimportant.

Steve Thompson, the United manager, saw good and bad in the night's events: "It was good preparation for the semi-final to play against Premiership quality opposition, but if we do not defend better against corners and set-pieces then Newcastle will punish us as Forest did,'' he said.

Nottingham Forest (4-4-2): Beasant; Bonalair, Cooper, Chettle, Rogers (Armstrong, 67); Stone, Gemmill, Thomas (Johnson, 35), Bart-Williams (Woan, 89); Van Hooijdonk, Campbell.

Sheffield United (5-3-2): Tracey; Wilder, Dellas, Marker (Devlin, 53), Sandford, Quinn; Derry, Stuart, Hamilton; Saunders (Ford, 77), Marcelo (Taylor, 66).

Referee: G Cain (Bootle).