Football: Forest rise above relegation zone

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The Independent Online
Nottingham Forest . . . . .1

Queen's Park Rangers. . . .0

A GOAL by Gary Crosby, his first since March last year, lifted Nottingham Forest out of the Premier League's bottom three at the City Ground last night for the first time since late August, while simultaneously preventing a depleted Queen's Park Rangers from moving into the top four.

Crosby's winner, which came in the 70th minute, was a curious affair. The winger received the ball from Ian Woan on the right of the six-yard area and began manoeuvring to his left. Rufus Brevett and Danny Maddix seemed certain to dispossess him in turn, but Crosby somehow squeezed a left-footed shot between Tony Roberts and his near post.

Forest, who have now won five and drawn one of their seven League matches this year, deserved their good fortune, if Rangers' largesse can be so described. They have a further four home games in the next five fixtures in which to continue climbing, and could conceivably be virtually safe from relegation by mid-March.

Apart from the three points, there were ever-heartening signs for Brian Clough. Mark Crossley, whose errors cost Forest dear last autumn, gave an assured display in goal, capped by a fine diving catch from Andy Sinton's goal- bound effort in injury time.

Carl Tiler also enjoyed one of his better games, although it was the centre-back's late mistake that allowed Les Ferdinand a free volley which the England newcomer ballooned over. Throw in a confident home debut by midfielder Steve Stone, plus an above-average attendance, and it was no wonder Clough was satisfied afterwards.

Looking forward to the visits of Manchester City on Saturday and Crystal Palace next Wednesday, the Forest manager said: 'Let's try and put some of the pressure we've been feeling on the clubs who are now below us.'

Ferdinand, with two headers that flew narrowly too high, came close for Rangers either side of the interval. Forest enjoyed territorial ascendancy, but only Nigel Clough, with a sumptuous curling shot which Roberts twisted acrobatically to tip over in the 64th minute, really threatened a breakthrough.

Crosby's goal, which did nothing to stop Clough Snr's finger-wagging forays to the touchline, ensured a positive outcome to an evening which had not begun auspiciously. The minute's silence for Bobby Moore was marred by interruptions. Perhaps the loudmouths were unaware that their manager once tried to sign the great man for Derby; in all probability they did not care.

Nottingham Forest: Crossley; Charles, Chettle, Stone, Tiler, Keane, Crosby, Gemmill, Clough, Bannister, Woan. Substitutes not used: Black, Armstrong, Marriott (gk).

Queen's Park Rangers: Roberts; Bardsley, Brevett, Barker, Peacock, Maddix, Wilson, Impey, Ferdinand, Allen (Bailey, 72), Sinton. Substitutes not used: Ready, Stejskal (gk).

Referee: R Gifford (Mid-Glamorgan).