Football: Collymore on the mark

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The Independent Online
Nottingham Forest 1

Collymore 38

Leicester City 0

Attendance: 21,601

SOME extravagant claims have been made for Stan Collymore, the Nottingham Forest striker. And on the evidence of what he produced yesterday, they may not be so far wide of the mark. Another cracking goal, his second of the season, maintained Forest's impressive start and raised his own stock even higher.

A 1-0 thrashing might be the best way to describe this match, in which Forest, after a stodgy beginning, should have had much more to show for their efforts. But for Leicester City things are already looking ominous, with three defeats in their first three games.

Although Collymore was involved in almost everything of note that Forest did, there were enough strong performances around him to suggest that stopping Stan will not be the only challenge facing their opponents this season. Bryan Roy had an outstanding game as Collymore's foil, Steve Stone provided consistent support on the right wing and the Forest defence remained largely untroubled.

If they had a weakness it was in midfield, where Leicester, particularly in the first half, showed plenty of durability if not much inspiration. But the loss of Mark Draper with an ankle injury after only a quarter of an hour was a severe blow; a team of such modest talents could ill afford that.

Forest had the talent, but it was a while before they worked out how to put it to best use. Stone was an occasional threat, Roy showed glimpses of class, but the game was beginning to drift when, in the 39th minute, Collymore brought it to life in emphatic style.

The great thing about Collymore is that he keeps things simple. He gets the ball, he runs with it, and he sticks it in the net. That was pretty much what happened to Leicester, whose defence did not look particularly vulnerable when Collymore collected the ball some 10 yards outside the area. But he found a gap that had not appeared to be there, accelerating powerfully through it, and a left-foot shot into the bottom corner did the rest.

The game began to open out a bit. Collymore sent a header just wide, and in the first five minutes of the second half both he and Roy got behind Leicester's back five, but neither was able to get himself into a good enough position to make his shot count. Roy, whom Forest use as a central attacker rather than on the wing, was none the less tending to move out to the left in search of unattended space, and a productive ploy it proved to be.

Soon the nimble Roy was in his element, his poise, balance and all-round awareness setting him apart from almost everyone else on the pitch. But not Collymore, who in the 60th minute strode on to Roy's short pass to crash a ferocious shot against the bar. The watching Don Howe - the eyes of Terry Venables - will have taken note.

For all Forest's domination, their advantage remained a slender one. Against a better team they might have paid for that. But Leicester did themselves no favours by having Nicky Mohan dismissed for a second bookable offence, and Forest could afford to be profligate.

Never more so than when Roy released Collymore down the right and the big man showed how well he can create chances as well as take them. His cross left Ian Woan with nothing to do but shoot into an empty net; he found the crowd instead. One thing Collymore has not mastered is how to get on the end of your own crosses.

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