Football: Force of Kennedy arrests Forest

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The Independent Online
Manchester City 1 Nottingham Forest 0

MARK KENNEDY is wasting little time in becoming a bona fide City hero.

Having scored the winner at Bolton on Saturday, the Republic of Ireland winger, a pounds 1.5m signing from Wimbledon this summer, set up the winner yesterday and inspired Manchester City into second place in the First Division table during a spell when they threatened to overrun Nottingham Forest.

"I don't think he's the kind of player you have to worry about fitting in," his manager Joe Royle said. "All you have to do is give him the ball."

Decisive as his contribution was, Kennedy could still have finished on the losing side as David Platt's team twice hit the post in the second half.

There was little sign of that insecurity in City's bright beginning. Kennedy had already hinted at the problems he was to cause when he slid down the left touchline in the 12th minute and, instead of making for the dead-ball line, curled the ball early into Shaun Goater's path.

The gangling Bermudan still had plenty to do, but he is a striker who tends to look more comfortable with the difficult chance than the easy one. He did well to maintain control while holding off two challenges and fired the ball past the advancing Mark Crossley.

There looked to be more on the way when Goater volleyed wide after the hard-pressed Forest defence had failed to clear a Kennedy cross and then when Terry Cooke, on the less used right wing, put in a low ball with which Paul Dickov almost connected.

Goater had another effort saved before half-time and should have made the game safe for City soon after the break. He went round Crossley but carried on too far to leave himself a workable angle and had his shot cleared from the foot of the post by Salvatore Matrecano.

There were increasingly insistent signs that one goal might not be enough as the second half progressed, with Nicky Weaver having to smother a shot from Ian Wright, whose 17-year-old son Shaun Wright-Phillips might have been but - sadly for lovers of family reunions - was not in City's squad.

Wright later hooked a shot against the base of an upright and with 10 minutes to play Steve Chettle smashed a free- kick onto the woodwork.

Royle laughed off suggestions that his side were lucky: "We were slightly fortunate but we did defend well and you can't go forward for 90 minutes in any game. They were a Premiership side last season and it shows, they had a lot of experience out there.

"And in Ian Wright and Dougie Freedman they have a dangerous pair up front but I thought we kept them relatively quiet. Just as important to us was that we made it six clean sheets on the trot and the keeper Nicky Weaver has done unbelievably well, he really does fill the goal."

A commendably honest Platt said: "We were extremely fortunate to still be in the game at half-time after the way they dominated us. I'd have been sitting here saying we'd nicked a point."

Manchester City (4-4-2): Weaver; Edghill, Morrison, Jobson, Tiatto (Bishop, 74); Cook (Crooks, 74) Whitley, Horlock, Kennedy; Goater (Taylor, 83) Dickov. Substitutes not used: Allsopp, McKinney (gk).

Nottingham Forest (3-5-2): Crossley; Matrecano, Mannini (Hjelde, 15), Chettle; Louis-Jean, Petrachi (Harewood, 69), Scimeca, Melton, Rogers; Freedman, Wright. Substitutes not used: Beasant (gk), Burns.

Referee: G Frankland (Middlesbrough).