Football / Coca-Cola Cup: Keane's strike a spur for Forest

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Nottingham Forest. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .2

Tottenham Hotspur. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .0

TOTTENHAM enjoy a reputation as a Cup side, but Forest, too, raise their game when all eyes are on the Wembley prize, and last night they shook off the torpor which has them anchored to the foot of the Premier League to claim a place in the quarter-finals of the competition which has done more than anything to prolong Brian Clough's managerial career.

Beaten just twice in four seasons in what has come to be known as the Coca-Cola Cup, they were again in progressive form, deservedly overcoming Spurs with Ian Woan's first goal of the current campaign and a typically emphatic strike from Roy Keane.

If the old League Cup represented Spurs' best hope of winning something in a transitional season, sans Gascoigne, Lineker and Stewart, Forest's need was even more acute, and they responded with a relish which made a nonsense of their dismal league form.

Could it be a turning point? Clough kept his thoughts to himself, and the rest of us were left to hope so. This attractive, close- passing Forest team are much too good to be lost to what is becoming the Long Ball Premier League.

Two sides who are always easy on the eye were done no favours by the conditions. After torrential rain, it needed a chilling gale to dry the pitch sufficiently for play to be deemed possible. A debatable decision, that, on a sodden surface.

Strong, gusting winds militate against the composed football for which Forest and Spurs are renowned, but both teams played well in trying circumstances.

The mire was such that Tottenham deployed a central defender, Jason Cundy, in midfield to dig the ball out of the bog, and their cause was hardly helped when another scuffler, Paul Allen, limped off after eight minutes, to be replaced by the inexperienced Kevin Watson.

The Forest of 1992 vintage are not the team who pushed and ran their way to the final last season, but they should have taken the lead midway through the first half, when Woan's through-pass enabled Stuart Pearce to scurry to the byline on the left before delivering a low cross which found Kingsley Black slow to react in front of goal.

No matter. After 26 minutes they were ahead, Nigel Clough freeing Woan, who rounded Eric Thorstvedt before shooting into the unguarded net.

Early in the second half, Gordon Durie should have brought the tie back to equality when Nayim's clever chip from the left demanded a better finish than the Scot's feeble header at the far post.

Samways and Justin Edinburgh also wasted good positions with inaccurate final passes, and, with Spurs in crisis, Terry Venables quit his seat in the director's box for the touchline to haul off the ineffective Durie in favour of Nick Barmby.

No sooner had Spurs' manager- cum-managing-director regained his seat than he was clapping his hands to his head in dismay. Forest had gone 2-0 up after 65 minutes, and that was that, Keane shooting powerfully into the roof of the net after Clough had laid off Scott Gemmill's lofted through ball.

Forest were through, with sweet revenge for the 1991 FA Cup final. Cloughie has that beady eye on Wembley again.

Nottingham Forest: Crossley; Laws, Pearce, Chettle, Tiler, Keane, Black, Gemmill, Clough, Glover, Woan (Bannister, 85). Substitute not used: Stone.

Tottenham Hotspur: Thorstvedt; Edinburgh, Austin, Samways, Mabbutt, Ruddock, Cundy, Durie (Barmby, 63), Nayim, Sheringham, Allen. Substitute not used: Watson.

Referee: P Wright (Northwich, Cheshire).

(Photograph omitted)