Football: Webb's late wonders sink unsettled City: Forest thrive on composure and creativity

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The Independent Online
Manchester City. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .1

Nottingham Forest. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .2

NOTTINGHAM FOREST imposed their First Division quality on an embattled Manchester City side at Maine Road last night, deservedly winning this Coca-Cola Cup fourth- round replay with two late goals.

Forest's more composed, creative football justly earned them an equaliser through the substitute, Neil Webb, and two minutes from the end, the former Manchester United midfield player prised open the home defence to lay on the winner for Colin Cooper.

City had restored to their side Richard Edghill, Steve McMahon and Alan Kernaghan, who rose to the challenge as an emergency striker, making good use of his aerial strength and testing Mark Crossley with a long, raking shot after barely two minutes.

Forest replied in kind. David Phillips sent a 40-yarder wide and shots from Steve Chettle and Stuart Pearce were fortuitously blocked by defenders. Stan Collymore, more the thoroughbred striker than Kernaghan and operating as Forest's sole out-and-out front man, gave City an early sample of his confidence, running at the opposition and striking a firm low shot which was denied by a crucial deflection.

Having escaped an uncomfortable spell, City accepted their chance to take the lead in the 17th minute. Garry Flitcroft delivered the free-kick, Kernaghan's run sucked out the cover and Michael Vonk climbed unchallenged to head in.

Forest attempted to play themselves back into contention, the enforced withdrawal of Scot Gemmill and his replacement by Webb having no detrimental effect on their smooth, flowing style. For all their intricacies, however, Phillips again resorted to shooting from distance.

Where there is Collymore, however, there is hope. He almost equalised out of nothing in the 43rd minute, turning on the edge of the area and unleashing a thunderous shot which beat Tony Coton and came back off the bar. Cooper was unable to turn in the rebound.

Even out wide, Collymore exudes class and spells danger. Early in the second half, he bent a ball in from the left which almost provided Steve Stone with an opening. City, meanwhile, toiled to get out of their own territory, such was Forest's persistence and possession. McMahon, combative as ever, made his presence felt yet too often City's counter-attacks were too hurried.

Forest finally had their deserved equaliser in the 74th minute when Webb neatly took Phillips's cross and beat Coton with his deflected shot. And, in the dramatic closing minutes, it was Webb, in the thick of it again, who set up Cooper to score the winner.

Manchester City (4-4-2): Coton; Edghill, Vonk, Curle, Phelan; White, Flitcroft, McMahon, Lomas; Sheron, Kernaghan. Substitutes not used: Kerr, D Brightwell, Dibble (gk).

Nottingham Forest (4-1-4-1): Crossley; Little, Cooper, Chettle, Pearce; Phillips; Stone, Bohinen, Gemmill (Webb, 30), Black; Collymore. Substitutes not used: Bull, Wright (gk).

Referee: J Worrall (Warrington).