Football: Pearce's men struggle in the lower league

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The Independent Online
Southend United. . . .1

Nottingham Forest. . .1

THE CRY of 'Judas' went up in the main stand at Roots Hall yesterday but it was aimed not by Southend supporters at Stan Collymore, the player who had left them for Forest, but by Forest fans at Teddy Sheringham, their former favourite who had unwisely seated himself in their midst.

Sheringham took his leave, departing from the ground accompanied by a steward. Ironically, the police officer in charge had spoken to the players beforehand warning them against inciting the large crowd.

It was hard enough for the Forest fans to come to terms with their new environment without being reminded of one of the reasons why they found themselves there. They had expected to see the man who would provide the prolificacy which Sheringham had before his departure to Spurs, but the pounds 2.2m Collymore was absent with tonsilitis, leaving Forest without the marksmanship to win a game they controlled for long periods.

In the end it was more a case of collywobble than Collymore and had Derek Payne shown more accuracy after rounding Mark Crossley, the Forest goalkeeper, in the 79th minute, the promotion favourites would have kicked off the season with defeat against the relegation favourites.

Forest had not started too cleverly, falling behind to a goal after one minute and 13 seconds which could be traced directly to one madcap moment from Stuart Pearce. Nothing could excuse the England captain's crude elbow in the face of Keith Jones for which he was rightly booked. From the free-kick, the ball was whisked upfield to where Crossley hesitated over a centre and eventually collided heavily with Andy Sussex off whom the ball rebounded into the net.

His head bandaged, Crossley went on to atone, as did Pearce, who rammed home a 22nd-minute penalty for a foul by Pat Scully on Lee Glover. But, despite looking more classy - no one more so than their new signing, Colin Cooper - Forest repeatedly let themselves down in front of goal.

Southend United (4-4-2): Sansome; Edwards, Bressington, Scully (Hunt, 32), Powell; Ansah (G Jones, 67), Payne, K Jones, Otto; Angell, Sussex. Substitute not used: Royce (gk).

Nottingham Forest (4-3-3): Crossley; Lyttle, Cooper, Chettle, Pearce; Stone, Webb, Black; Glover (Laws, 83), Rosario, Woan (Harvey, 74). Substitute not used: Marriott (gk).

Referee: M C Bailey (Cambridge).