Football: Ripley razes Forest's hopes

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Nottingham Forest. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .1

Blackburn Rovers . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .3

NOTTINGHAM FOREST'S fight against relegation was dealt a huge blow by Blackburn Rovers last night and Gary Charles's late sending-off for violent conduct added to the gloom at the City Ground.

With Middlesbrough's win the previous day sending them to the bottom, Forest, who have taken only five points from their last eight games, were in more trouble when Rovers took the lead after seven minutes.

Kevin Gallacher, Rovers' transfer- deadline day signing from Coventry, was the provider. He swept past Nigel Clough on the right of Forest's area before crossing for Jason Wilcox to score with a downward header.

Forest's response lacked bite and a well-organised Blackburn defence had little difficulty containing the home forwards. In defence Clough was given some uncomfortable moments by Gallacher who was denied a goal when two close-range attempts in succession bounced off Forest legs.

A second Blackburn goal had been closer still when Stuart Ripley slid in to meet a Wilcox cross on the far post only for his volley to be blocked on the line. With the visitors finding their passes with increasing comfort as half-time approached, Forest left the field to boos.

The crowd's reaction had a positive effect and after 51 minutes Forest were level through a penalty. Gemmill sent Roy Keane clear of Rovers' back four and he was brought down by Bobby Mimms. Clough made no mistake from the spot.

However, Rovers soon regained the upper hand. A mistake by Charles allowed Wilcox to release Gallacher on the left and although the Scot's attempt was saved by Crossley, Ripley moved in swiftly to fire the loose ball into the roof of the net.

There was no way back for Forest when Ripley sent in a low cross from the right flank to give Mike Newell a simple tap-in in the 76th minute.

As the chorus of jeers grew Charles showed his frustration and was sent off four minutes from time following an altercation with Gallacher.

Kenny Dalglish, the Blackburn manager, sympathised with Charles and criticised Forest's fans. 'I still have the same high opinion for Brian Clough but the disappointing thing is the crowd reaction when a club is in this position. Charles must have been frustrated with the way the crowd were treating him,' he said.

Nottingham Forest: Crossley; Charles, Chettle, Stone, Tiler, Keane, Bannister, Gemmill, Clough, Rosario, Black. Substitutes not used: Orlygsson, Marriott (gk), Williams.

Blackburn Rovers: Mimms; May, Le Saux, Sherwood, Hendry, Moran, Ripley (Berg, 79), Marker (Atkins, 74), Gallacher, Newell, Wilcox. Substitutes not used: Talia (gk).

Referee: A Ward (London).