Football: Forest see glimmer of light

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Southampton. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .1

Nottingham Forest. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .2

FROM the freedom of Nottingham to the freedom of The Dell. Brian Clough's Forest found the open spaces on the South coast much to their liking last night as they loosened the manacles to climb two places off the foot of the Premier League.

On the final whistle, Clough rose from his seat to raise two thumbs towards his supporters, a gesture in contrast to the sign he flashed at the weekend which was of the two-finger variety and which could land him in trouble with the Football Association.

Even by his standards, it has been an amazing few days. On Tuesday, he accepted the highest honour Nottingham could bestow: the freedom of the city, awarded for achievements past. If he can find a survival route amidst the present predicament, he will be deserving of an even greater tribute.

Nevertheless, he will readily concede that Southampton helped them to their first win in six games by the generosity of a defence which granted them space aplenty. Indeed, there was room all over the pitch as both sides went hungrily in search of goals.

It took Forest only four minutes to go in front. Nigel Clough, detailed again to a defensive position, nevertheless had licence to push forward when the occasion demanded. He burst into familiar territory, evaded one challenge, pushed on into the area and calmly rounded Tim Flowers.

It set the agenda for an entertaining spectacle and it was appropriate to consider what the introduction of Stan Collymore - for whom Forest are willing to pay Southend a sum approaching pounds 2m - would have brought to their attack.

In the 28th minute, Carl Tiler held back Nicky Banger but Matthew Le Tissier squandered the opportunity, missing from the penalty spot for the first time in a competitive game.

He was made to pay when, in first- half injury time, the visitors broke at lightning speed, first through Ian Woan and then with Roy Keane, who made further ground to accept a return pass from Kingsley Black and double Forest's lead.

Le Tissier ensured a tense final quarter for Clough and his men with a brute of a volley, bringing him his 100th goal in 265 appearances. The celebrations, however, were exclusive to the Forest dressing-room.

Southampton: Flowers; Kenna, Dodd, Hurlock (Cockerill, h/t), Hall, Monkou, Le Tissier, Banger, Dowie, Maddison, Benali. Substitutes not used: Bound, Andrews (gk).

Nottingham Forest: Crossley; Charles, Laws (Crosby, 27), Stone, Tiler, Keane, Black, Bannister, Clough, Rosario, Woan. Substitutes not used: Orlygsson, Marriott (gk).

Referee: M Reed (Birmingham).