Football: Collymore so footsure

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The Independent Online
Sunderland . . . . . . . . . . . . . .2

Gray 11, Smith 54

Nottingham Forest. . . . . . . . . . .3

Gemmill 17, Collymore 37, 79

Attendance: 16,968

SOMEBODY suggested, using the modern vernacular for all things remotely attractive, that this match was sexy. It proved to be more alluring than winceyette pyjamas, though there was still, despite five goals, plenty left to the imagination. Nottingham Forest deservedly won because they possessed the greater confidence and skill.

Sunderland, after six successive defeats, were eventually dismantled by a Nottingham Forest side who themselves have recovered from a moderate start to the season. This was their third away win in their past four matches and if their man of the moment, Stan Collymore (16 goals in 15 appearances), was the main and most spectacular contributor, Forest deserved their victory because of the fashion in whichthey played. Steve Stone was especially impressive.

The legend may have gone but his successor, Frank Clark, is being faithful to his legacy. Forest can still sweep up the field with the best of them and their progress is frequently rapid and accompanied by equally swift, accurate passing.

This could not prevent their falling behind and Phil Gray gave the home side the lead after a pleasant move on the left between Richard Ord and Martin Smith. The new dawn did not last long. Forest drew level six minutes later. Another delicate move down the right, an accurate cross, and Scott Gemmill rose easily above a slack central defence to head in. Something similar might have given them the lead before Collymore obliged with a rasping left-foot shot, a mark of his present cockiness.

Sunderland were once the Bank of England club - though scant success it brought them - and while they are hardly reduced to Bank of Toytown status, it has been suggested that Noddy and Big Ears might have put in more spirited performances than some of their players recently.

There was some of the old Roker passion about them yesterday and they demonstrated enough steel to equalise. Don Goodman's shot was parried by Mark Crossley, on the field for Tommy Wright who departed concussed in the 15th minute after an earlier collision. Martin Smith slipped in the rebound.

This was what was wanted but it could not last and it did not. Forest surged forward again and Collymore characteristically finished it off, again with his left foot. Frank Clark missed most of this from the touchline because he had been removed after an altercation with the referee late in the first half (he later apologised). Maybe he is borrowing some of his predecessor's volatility. It begins to look as though he could follow Sinatra at Vegas and find it a doddle.

As for Mick Buxton, the new Sunderland manager, he was encouraged by his side despite their seventh defeat in a row. He wants to see Sunderland back where they belong - though they have not been at the top for decades now and he is by no means the first manager to have said something similar.