Football: Forest find their feet

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The Independent Online
Coventry City. . . . .0

Nottingham Forest. . .1

OBVIOUSLY 1993 agrees with Nottingham Forest. Having beaten Southampton in the FA Cup last weekend, they garnered three valuable League points at Highfield Road. The fact of the victory, however, was rather more satisfactory than the manner in which it was achieved. Much of the attractive one-touch football that this fixture promised was provided by Coventry.

The Sky Blues are developing a reputation for entertaining inconsistency. In their last home fixture they put five goals past Liverpool; in their last away match they conceded the same number against Manchester United. They seemed perhaps more likely to repeat the former of these feats as they set about a tentative Forest.

Even without the exciting Peter Ndlovu (on World Cup duty for Zimbabwe), a flexible forward line that combined the bludgeon of Mick Quinn and Robert Rosario with the speed of Kevin Gallacher and the blunderbuss unpredictability of John Williams always looked capable of creating chances. They did indeed create many near- opportunities, but passed them all up through a combination of haste, inaccuracy and misfortune.

Gallacher did put the ball in the net in the 17th minute when he successfully challenged the unconvincing Mark Crossley for Steve Chettle's accidental back-header. There is, however, an exclusion zone around all goalkeepers, and the referee promptly blew his whistle to enforce it.

Forest showed occasional flashes of their undoubted capability. One delightful move involving eight different players saw the ball shuttle the length of the pitch before Gary Bannister sent Scot Gemmill clear into the box and the young midfielder's angled shot was well held by Steve Ogrizovic. Too often, however, moves broke down without


Indeed, many of Coventry's best moments in the first half were forged - in traditional Forest style - on the break. Just after the half- hour Williams surged upfield, exchanged passes with Quinn and then raced to the byline; his low, hard cross only just evaded Rosario's outstretched boot and was deflected to safety by the retreating Roy Keane.

Although Neil Webb displayed occasional touches to suggest that he might re-forge a productive partnership with Nigel Clough, it was left to the indefatigable Keane to create most of Forest's play.

His powerful runs from deep positions, his willingness to take players on, his readiness to shoot, all contrived to unsettle the Coventry back four. He began the second half with a low shot on the turn that required a fine double save.

When it arrived, however, the Forest goal owed nothing to stylish play. The Coventry defence was unnecessarily panicked by a high ball from the left. Rosario managed to get his head to it (twice) but sent it only as far as Ian Woan, who drove it home through the melee.

After that fillip to their confidence, Forest sucked Coventry in, giving them no more than a series of increasingly desperate half- chances. Rosario and Quinn battered away, Williams and Gallacher hurtled forward, Ogrizovic even went upfield for a succession of injury-time corners. But there was no way through. 'Forest,' as Bobby Gould ruefully remarked, 'are back to their mean best.'

Coventry City: S Ogrizovic; B Borrows, P Babb, P Atherton, K Sansom (A Pearce, 80 min), J Williams, L McGrath, L Hurst, R Rosario, M Quinn, K Gallacher. Subs not used: M Gynn, J Gould (gk). Manager: B Gould.

Nottingham Forest: M Crossley; B Laws, S Pearce, S Chettle, C Tiler, R Keane, G Bannister, S Gemmill, N Clough, N Webb, I Woan. Subs not used: T Orlygsson, S Stone, A Marriot (gk). Manager: B Clough.

Referee: M Bodenham (Looe).

Goal: Woan (0-1, 65 min).