Football: Improved City turn the dimmer switch on Forest's glimmer of hope

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Nottingham Forest. . .0

Manchester City. . . .2

FIVE wins in seven matches before this one had offered Forest a glimpse of survival but the image looks less sharp this morning. After escaping the bottom three last week, a seventh home defeat of the season yesterday leaves them as deeply in trouble as ever.

More so, in fact. Now they have an injury crisis, too. Neil Webb and Stuart Pearce, their long-term casualties, were joined by Scot Gemmill and the leading scorer Gary Bannister in failing to appear yesterday. On top of that the game was less than a quarter old when Steve Stone, who has been deputising with some distinction for Webb, limped off with a leg injury.

Brian Clough has never been one to moan about such matters, but the circumstances of this glut of problems is causing him more agitation than usual; enough, in fact, to take a potshot at the England manager, Graham Taylor, whom he blames for the continuing loss of Pearce.

In his programme notes, Clough accused Taylor of over-training the national squad before the World Cup match with San Marino. 'The last thing players need on a Monday and a Tuesday before a Wednesday game,' Clough wrote, 'is two two-hour training sessions with somersaults thrown in. Thanks to the somersaults I've lost my skipper for another four to six weeks.'

But Clough has more than Pearce's fitness to concern him now. Forest yesterday bore little resemblance to a side that is too good to go down and injuries could not be held responsible. Improved City, whose own confidence had been dented by two successive defeats, won comfortably in the end, lending weight to the alternative theory that Forest are where they deserve to be.

As has become usual, Forest suffered for their shortcomings in front of goal, failing to convert any of seven or eight chances. But in other areas, too, they were found wanting. Imprecise passes cost them space and time going forward, while defenders could be faulted in both City's goals.

The first, perhaps, involved some poor luck, too. When Fitzroy Simpson tackled Carl Tiler 10 yards outside the Forest penalty area the ball could have flown anywhere and it was to City's good fortune that it shot into the path of David White, who seized the chance to drill home his 17th goal of the season.

Coming against the run of play, the goal silenced most of the City Ground's largest crowd of the season, who had at least been encouraged by seeing Nigel Clough twice go close to converting early crosses. But rather than respond with more of the same, Forest became ditheringly ineffective for the remainder of the half.

The full-back Brian Laws delivered Forest's two best efforts in the second half but there was not much bite elsewhere and Garry Flitcroft wrapped things up neatly for City two minutes from the end.

Nottingham Forest: M Crossley; G Charles, S Chettle, S Stone (B Laws, 22 min), C Tiler, R Keane, G Crosby, K Black, N Clough, L Glover, I Woan. Subs not used: C Armstrong, A Marriott (gk). Manager: B Clough.

Manchester City: T Coton; R Ranson, T Phelan, F Simpson, A Hill, M Vonk, D White, M Sheron (M Quigley, 85 min), N Quinn, G Flitcroft, R Holden. Subs not used: A Mike, A Dibble (gk). Player/manager: P Reid.

Referee: A Buksh (Dollis Hill).

Goals: White (0-1, 19 min); Flitcroft (0-2, 88 min).