Belle Vue may not have lived up to its name in the eyes of Nottingham Forest's new Eurocentric line-up, though Dave Bassett was hardly complaining as they amassed a club-record win in cup football at Doncaster's expense in the first leg of their first round Coca-Cola Cup tie last night.
Although they fell two goals short of equalling the League Cup's biggest- ever victory - 10-0 by West Ham against Bury in 1983 - Forest will not be tempting fate to assume that they may have done enough to make the return fixture a formality.
The three-times former holders, who had understood they would enter the competition in the second round until they heard the draw, were not remotely perturbed by the ramshackle surroundings, or indeed by a pitch which sloped dramatically from one touchline to the other.
As befits a side recently relegated from the Premiership and assembled at a cost approaching pounds 15m, they carried the game to Doncaster's collection of free transfer recruits. The game was up for Kerry Dixon's Third Division team within half an hour, by which time Forest led 3-0.
Geoff Thomas set the ball rolling in the 11th minute, the former England midfielder sweeping in a pass by Pierre Van Hooijdonk for his first goal since being released by Wolves.
Four minutes later, after Gary Ingham could only parry Van Hooijdonk's header from a cross by Alan Rogers, Dean Saunders lashed in the rebound. As the evening took on the air of a pre-season friendly, the Norwegian defender Jon-Olav Hjelde nodded the third following a corner by France's Thierry Bonalair.
Van Hooijdonk, the pounds 3.5m striker who had previously scored just once in 10 appearances, joined the spree two minutes after half-time. After a strong break by Bonalair, the Dutchman buried Saunders' pass with a first-time drive from 12 yards.
The rout continued in the 54th minute when Hjelde headed Forest's fifth and his second, again from a Donalair corner. David Phillips, the first of three Forest substitutes, promptly rattled a post as Doncaster heads dropped.
When Forest briefly relaxed, Adie Mike sent a header against Marco Pascolo's crossbar but Saunders, Van Hooijdonk and Chris Allen all helped themselves to embarrassingly simple goals in the final 12 minutes. Doncaster's supporters were left to aim insults at the directors' box, their team to await the second leg with mounting dread.
Doncaster Rovers (4-4-2): Ingham; Darren Esdaille, Brookes, Gore, Sanders; Ireland, McDonald, Warren, David Esdaille (Cunningham, 35); Mike, Moncrieffe. Substitutes not used: Middlemass, Conlon.
Nottingham Forest (4-4-2): Pascolo; Lyttle, Hjelde, Chettle, Rogers (Armstrong, 58); Bonalair (Moore, 58), Gemmill, Thomas (Phillips, 48), Allen; Saunders, Van Hooijdonk.
Referee: T Heilbron (Co Durham).Reuse content