Football: Platt forced to lead the way

Brighton and Hove Albion 2 Hart 16, Freeman 64 Nottingham Forest 2 Scimeca 38, Platt 84 Half-time: 1-1 Attendance: 6,000
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The Independent Online
DAVID PLATT'S career-long reputation for being in the right place at the right time as far as scoring goals is concerned re-emerged yesterday when, in his new role as the player- manager of Nottingham Forest, he came on and spoiled Brighton's return to the town after ground-sharing with Gillingham by equalising. But nothing yesterday suggested that the right place for his voracious ambition is Forest.

On his appointment earlier this month, Platt described taking over as "the job of the summer". Whether he will be as content come the end of the winter is another matter. Self-confident and loquacious, no doubt, he is capable of talking a good game, but his managerial experience extends only to a brief time at Sampdoria. Forest, now without the tenacious Steve Stone, and the troublesome but talented Pierre van Hooijdonk, are not now one of those clubs you expect to rebound straight back into the Premiership, especially as behind-the-scenes struggles continue.

Brighton had been in rented accommodation in Kent for two years, and even their move to the attractive, tree- surrounded Withdean Stadium is temporary. A proper new ground at Falmer is the long-term hope, but yesterday was still an emotional occasion for those long-suffering 6,000 fans who had managed to get a ticket. And for them it was the occasion rather than the outcome that mattered, though taking the lead after 16 minutes when Gary Hart rose above the Forest defenders to head in Kerry Mayo's deep centre was highly appreciated.

The goal was hardly representative of the tide of the game which was predominantly towards the Brighton goal and based on a Forest policy of getting everyone bar Dougie Freedman behind the ball. When they did push forward their finishing was almost grotesque. A welcome expression of accuracy by Riccardo Scimeca, playing his first game for Forest, curling a low equalising shot beyond Ormerod barely counted as a sign of hope.

Platt himself did not appear until just after Brighton took the lead in the 64th minute, when the substitute Darren Freeman, with his first touch, slid the ball beyond Mark Crossley after Gary Hart had flicked on a long free-kick. Platt took up an organising midfield role and immediately brought more invention and some touches of superior class.

It was almost curmudgeonly of him to use that internationally honed superiority to deny Brighton victory when he moved to the far post as Christian Edwards' shot was driven into the goal-mouth. Platt stabbed the ball across the line.

Brighton & Hove Albion: M Ormerod; C Wilder, J Campbell, K McPherson, K Mayo, G Hobson, R Thomas, P Rogers, G Hart, C Oatway, A Newhouse.

Nottingham Forest: M Crossley; K Dawson, T Bonalair, R Scimeca, J Mattsson, C Edwards, A Gray, D Freedman, N Quashie, C Bart-Williams, A Rogers.

Referee: S G Tomlin (Lewis).

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