Football: Campbell's alarm

Nottingham Forest 1 Campbell 17 Birmingham City 0 Attendance: 19,610
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The Independent Online
AFTER St Andrew's, most of Trevor Francis's fondest memories are attached to the City Ground. At present the Birmingham manager is finding no stadium much to his liking.

Yesterday, despite a good share of possession, the decline of his team continued as Forest maintained their promotion challenge. Kevin Campbell's first-half goal took Dave Bassett's side back to the top and left Birmingham with only one win in 13 matches.

There was no faulting Birmingham's effort, which Bassettconceded as handshakes were exchanged at the end. "We deserved to draw," Francis said. "Dave was generous enough to say so. But there are times when you start to wonder whether you are missing something when you watch a side work as hard as we are doing but keep coming away empty-handed.''

Francis refused to discuss luck as a factor but fortune went against him. Birmingham claimed Campbell's goal was helped on by a divot and when Michael Johnson thought he had equalised in the last 10 minutes, his joy was cut short when referee Paul Danson spotted a push.

A manager knows things are not going well when his chairman offers his public support, as David Gold did last week. Gold has even defended Francis's right to be unpopular with the players, which should set alarm bells ringing after his fall at both QPR and Sheffield Wednesday. Francis was not popular with Steve Bruce, omitting him in favour of younger legs against the threat of Campbell, Steve Stone and Pierre van Hooijdonk.

On the whole, Francis was vindicated, except perhaps at the critical moment, when Campbell managed to latch on to Stone's pass despite the close marking of Darren Wassall, steering the ball wide of goalkeeper Ian Bennett.

Bennett saved another effort from Campbell and plucked a measured lob from Van Hooijdonk out of the air, although the Dutchman should have scored when Scot Gemmill's cross gave him an excellent chance at the start of the second half.

Johnson was unlucky but by then Paul Devlin should have equalised and substitute Tony Cottee - on loan from Leicester - missed an inviting cross near the end.

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