Football: Platt is left feeling flat by Holland

Nottingham Forest 0 Ipswich Town 1
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The Independent Online
DAVID PLATT'S troubled managerial apprenticeship ran into more difficulties as Forest slumped to their sixth defeat in seven, creating the prospect of a relegation struggle in the former England captain's first season in charge.

The wonder was that Ipswich, who move up one place to fourth in the First Division, did not win by a much more handsome margin - the Forest goal was persistently subjected to a pounding by the visiting attack, for whom David Johnson was outstanding.

Ipswich, denied by a linesman's flag when Johnson headed past Dave Beasant in the first half, so dominated woeful Forest that their tally of goal chances was already into doubles figures before Matt Holland at last made one count 11 minutes from time.

Holland, still suffering from a virus that had laid him low before the match, was the unlucky player when Forest enjoyed their most noteworthy escape. Lobbing towards an open goal after Beasant had deserted his line, Holland saw his shot stopped by the defender Chris Doig, who pulled off a miraculous saving header.

Only Stern John, Platt's pounds 1.5m Trinidadian striker, offered any threat to George Burley's promotion hopefuls but after a couple of bright early moments he became an increasingly peripheral figure. To cap a miserable afternoon, John was booked in the closing seconds when his attempt to win a penalty against the Ipswich goalkeeper, Richard Wright, was interpreted as a dive.

Platt's managerial record now reads five wins from 21 matches at Forest in addition to his fruitless six-game stint as Sampdoria's coach, hardly the ideal start for someone with ambitions to coach England. As a half- empty City Ground greeted the final whistle with booing, Platt turned for the dressing room without offering a handshake to his opposite number.

By contrast with Ipswich, Forest looked individually inept and collectively disorganised, their confidence surely not helped as Platt twice changed their formation as play unfolded. Ipswich, on the other hand, played disciplined, incisive football and it seemed only a matter of time before Forest buckled. Holland and Jamie Scowcroft each fluffed free headers and Johnson, after missing the target with a couple of shots, saw another pushed over the bar by Beasant, recalled by Platt in place of Mark Crossley.

"I wondered if the goal would ever come," a relieved Burley said. "But we have belief in ourselves and we kept doing what we do and we deservedly got the three points."

John saw one lob drop on to the top of the net and another shot strike the foot of an upright as Forest were at their brightest but support for the former Columbus Crew man was inconsistent and left Platt a frustrated figure, admitting that his dream of promotion in his first year now looks forlorn.

"We are where we are, there's no getting away from that," he said. "We must now concentrate all our efforts on getting away from the bottom."

Goal: Holland (79) 0-1.

Nottingham Forest (4-4-2): Beasant; Bart-Williams, Hjelde, Doig, Brennan; Merino (Gray, h-t), Quashie, Scimeca, Prutton; John, Beck (Freedman, 77). Substitutes not used: Crossley (gk), Mannini, Williams.

Ipswich Town (3-5-2): R Wright; McGreal, Mowbray, Brown; Croft, Stockwell, Magilton, Holland, Clapham; Johnson, Stockwell (J Wright, 68). Substitutes not used: Wilnis, Salmon (gk), Axeldal, Venus.

Referee: R Styles (Waterlooville).

Bookings: Nottingham Forest: John.

Man of the match: Johnson.

Attendance: 15,724.