Football: Liverpool lack lustre

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The Independent Online
Liverpool. . . . . .0

Nottingham Forest. .0

RECENT results and unflinching faith in fine traditions lured 40,000 to Anfield in reasonable expectation of great things. They departed scarcely believing they could have been so far out with their calculations.

Nottingham Forest will be more content with the draw, even though Gary Bannister hoisted the ball over the bar with the match at his mercy three minutes from the end. Victory was frankly more than either side deserved from the shapeless encounter.

Forest's familiar triangles never quite joined up, while Liverpool, in their anxiety to pacify increasingly restless natives, resorted to too many crude, hopeful humps into the area.

The fresh mood of optimism said to be coursing through these two camps was hardly reflected in the quality of the football. Liverpool, unchanged for the first time in 13 months, demonstrated that familiarity can indeed breed contempt. There was little by way of cohesion or tempo to unsettle Forest's defence. John Barnes was presented with a rare opportunity, only to head tamely straight at the goalkeeper, Mark Crossley. Steve McManaman was similarly wasteful just before the break.

Forest had their share of the possession and Ian Woan, after combining with Bannister on the left, rode his luck to arrive in the penalty area and bring David James to a leaping save.

McManaman, roaming new territory in the second half, cut in from the left and drilled his low shot just outside the near post. Mike Marsh had a clearer sight of goal but failed to make a clean contact and dragged the ball well wide.

Forest absorbed Liverpool's best endeavours to exert pressure and almost stole the points. Nigel Clough cut the ball back from the right but Bannister's strike was in keeping with this wayward contest.

Liverpool: D James; M Marsh (M Walters, 81 min), R Jones, S Nicol, M Wright, S I Bjornebye, S McManaman, J Redknapp, I Rush, J Barnes, P Stewart. Subs not used: D Hutchison, M Hooper (gk). Manager: G Souness.

Nottingham Forest: M Crossley; B Laws, B Williams, S Chettle, C Tiler, R Keane, G Bannister, S Gemmill, N Clough, T Orlygsson, I Woan. Subs not used: G Crosby, G Charles, A Marriott (gk). Manager: B Clough.

Referee: K Barrett (Coventry).