Football: Rosario gives Forest hope of new life

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The Independent Online
Nottingham Forest. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .2

Tottenham Hotspur. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .1

JUST as the final touches were being added to the obituary, Forest have begun to show signs of life.

The question of whether they are emerging from a long coma, or whether in fact they are suffering from a condition that is truly terminal, awaits final diagnosis. But for those who have been sitting anxiously by their deathbed, the first signs of what would be a miraculous recovery have at least offered renewed hope for their long-suffering fans.

Roared on by a passionate City Ground, Forest moved off the bottom of the table in a pulsating game in which they displayed all the fluency and confidence that has brought them so much success under Brian Clough's long tenure.

More importantly, however, they showed a determination, hitherto so conspicuously absent, to scrap for their survival.

After Nick Barmby, Nayim and Darren Anderton had all failed to make the most of good half-chances for Spurs in the opening minutes, Forest burst into life and a two-goal lead.

It was Kingsley Black who blasted his side into the lead after 25 minutes. Slaloming into the penalty area, he skipped over a final challenge and unleashed a volley of studied violence into the roof of the net.

Forest, and Black in particular, continued to press for the crucial second goal. But a combination of ill-fortune and some inspired keeping by Erik Thorstvedt, who was forced to retire with an injured hand at half- time, somehow kept out the increasingly rampant home side.

By 38 minutes, the goal which they richly deserved duly arrived. Latching on to Brett Williams's long clearance, Ian Woan spurned Spurs' offside trap and raced to the goal-line to cut the ball back for Robert Rosario, who scrambled his first, but what could prove to be his most important, goal for the club over the line.

Steve Sedgley's header from Anderton's corner on the stroke of half-time set up a tense second half in which the play continued to ricochet from one end to the other in a frenzy of desperate attacks. But Forest hung on.

Although the outcome of this game was largely irrelevant to Spurs, for whom the possibilities of relegation or a place in Europe barely existed, they battled to extend their own string of impressive results.

Luck has not always been on Forest's side this season, but when referee Alan Wilkie pointed to the corner flag rather than the penalty spot after Williams' hand had appeared to scoop the ball to safety, good fortune seemed to have returned.

Although Rosario and Woan both had good chances to kill off the suspense, Forest were forced to hang on to the end. Whether they will be there at the death, only God, and probably Brian Clough, know.

Nottingham Forest: Marriott; Laws, Williams, Stone, Tiler, Keane, Black, Bannister, Clough, Rosario (Orlygsson, 85), Woan. Substitutes not used: Armstrong, Crossley (gk).

Tottenham Hotspur: Thorstvedt (Dearden, h/t); Austin, Edinburgh, Barmby, Mabbutt, Ruddock, Sedgley, Nayim (Turner, 67). Anderton, Sheringham, Allen. Substitute not used: Bergsson.

Referee: A Wilkie (Co Durham).