Football: Forest settle for points without plaudits

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The Independent Online
Nottingham Forest. . .2

Watford. . . . . . . .1

Forest maintained their pursuit of Crystal Palace at the top of the Endsleigh League First Division with a victory at the City Ground last night that was more valuable than it was assured.

Forest had the most encouraging of starts, going ahead within five minutes. Jason Lee's penetrative run from midfield released Kingsley Black down the left and his long cross found Steve Stone cutting in from the opposite wing to score with a stooping header.

It was a sign of how vulnerable the five stretched across the back for Watford would be to anything resembling an incisive move, but Forest were slow to take the hint.

Their impetus degenerated into some woeful long-range shooting - always a temptation with heavy artillery of the calibre of Stuart Pearce and David Phillips in the side - and a series of crosses hit with more force than precision by Stone.

Watford, in just as much need of points at the bottom of the table as Forest at the top, warned that they could not be taken for granted when Paul Furlong, who was later booked for careless use of the elbow on Pearce, had a shot saved by Mark Crossley's legs.

As soon as Forest trusted to their superior touch, they scored again, however, Stan Collymore's delicately prodded through ball giving Neil Webb an age to beat Perry Digweed.

Only an acrobatic save from an absolute screamer by Pearce stopped it becoming three early in the second half, but Watford continued to have the occasional threatening moment.

The visitors' substitute, Denis Bailey, also headed wide of an open goal with 10 minutes left as Forest began to play as though they felt they had done enough. Four minutes from time Porter punished them with a rasping 20-yard shot past Crossley's right hand.

Nottingham Forest (4-4-2): Crossley; Haaland, Cooper, Chettle, Pearce; Stone, Webb, Phillips, Black; Lee, Collymore. Substitutes not used: Warner, Rosario, Wright (gk).

Watford (5-3-2): Digweed; Lavin, Millen, Dublin, Holdsworth, Drysdale; Hessenthaler, Ramage, Porter; Mooney (Bailey, 66), Furlong. Substsitutes not used: Johnson, Suckling (gk).

Referee: R Poulain (Huddersfield).