Football: Reid earns his reward

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Notts County . . . . . . . . .2

McSwegan 55, Palmer 86

Nottingham Forest. . . . . . .1

Phillips 84

Attendance: 18,655

THE BATTLE of the River Trent came at the wrong moment for Forest, just as they were starting to believe that Frank Clark can walk on water just like they always said his predecessor could.

County, organised and inspired by the irrepressible Peter Reid, gained their first scalp in this particular derby since 1982, and deservedly. The winner came four minutes from the end, a minute after Forest had equalised.

Reid appeared to relish every second of it. County are paying him week by week as he waits for another management opportunity to come along, but he looked as committed to the cause as any of the impassioned young men around him. At 37, his legs may be registering a protest now but his enthusiasm is undimmed.

Until County went ahead, it had not been much of a game. Forest, having survived a second-minute scare, largely controlled the first half, although they did not look likely to turn their possession into goals.

But 10 minutes into the second period, Gary McSwegan, the former Rangers striker, broke the deadlock with a splendid goal, sweeping in from the left to leave both Forest centre-backs in his wake, before shooting in at the near post. The Scot had gone close twice in the preceeding minutes and now he changed the nature of the contest.

Forest were compelled to abandon the idea of containment and give Steve Cherry more than the odd cross to deal with. But with Reid chasing Forest's 24-year-old Norwegian, Lars Bohinen, from one side of the field to the other, County seemed able to hold back the tide.

Until, that is, fortune appeared to have deserted them cruelly when Stuart Pearce's weak, deflected shot ran kindly to David Phillips five yards from goal.

But the squabble was intense enough by now to require settlement and County had the last word - Charlie Palmer, the full-back, rising at the far post to thunder home Mark Draper's free-kick.

County still think they can make a play-off place, which looks a bit of a fantasy. They must now think carefully about whether they can afford to spend pounds 200,000 to keep Colin Foster, the defender whose loan from West Ham expired last night.