Football: Gordon completes felling of Forest

Click to follow
The Independent Online
Crystal Palace. . . 2

Nottingham Forest. .0

ACCORDING to Alan Smith, the Crystal Palace manager who has succeeded Steve Coppell, there are no outstanding sides in the First Division to which Palace and their opponents last night had been assigned. So, he says, hard work should prevail. Beating the expensively rebuilt Forest at Selhurst Park suggested he had a point.

What Forest know they have to do is add metal to the smoothness of last season. Their purchase of Stan Collymore from Southend for the extraordinary fee of pounds 2.2m was made for that purpose, though Palace fans remembered him as one of their reserves of less than a year ago.

He returned apparently full of grudges for not having received better recognition and perhaps took it personally when Palace forced five early corners, the last of which, from Bobby Bowry, was beaten out before he returned it for Eric Young to crash in a resounding header.

Some fine service from Neil Webb could have been better used by Collymore but his aggression tended to be mis-spent. Indeed, he was fortunate that in one clash it was Young who had his name taken rather than his own. He drew a stunning diving save from Nigel Martyn before Collymore, who had been suffering from tonsillitis, called it a day at half-time.

Palace's industry and persistence in midfield seemed likely to frustrate Forest's attempts to build carefully from the back, but when, after 20 minutes, Andy Thorn collapsed with a pulled hamstring, Chris Coleman had to move into the centre of defence and Dean Gordon went to left-back.

The reorganisation briefly cost Palace some of their drive but by early in the second half they had notched up a dozen corners and Forest were beginning to look to Stuart Pearce to plough forward. He was willing and promisingly able, though perhaps not sufficiently so for Graham Taylor's England needs.

Palace's hunger was always the greater, which was an ominous sign for Forest's future. The promise of their opening games evaporated when a free kick outside the penalty area was tapped square by Gareth Southgate for Gordon to thud the ball home.

Crystal Palace (4-4-2): Martyn; Humphrey, Thorn, Young (Gordon, 20), Coleman; Bowry, Shaw, Southgate, Rodger; Williams, Armstrong. Substitutes not used: Whyte, Woodman (gk).

Nottingham Forest (4-4-2): Crossley; Lyttle, Chettle, Cooper, Pearce; Black, Stone (Phillips, 72), Webb, Woan; Collymore (Glover, h-t), Rosario. Substitute not used: Marriott (gk).

Referee: R Wiseman (Boreham Wood).