Football: Wimbledon 1 Nottingham Forest 3 - Forest's dream surv ives

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The Independent Online
THE MIRACLE required by Ron Atkinson is slightly smaller after a spirited Nottingham Forest inflicted Wimbledon's second home defeat in seven days. Goals from Alan Rogers, Dougie Freedman and Neil Shipperley and a string of saves by Mark Crossley earned the Midlanders a rare away win and kept their faint hopes of Premiership survival flickering.

Rogers believes the sale of Steve Stone galvanised the spirit in the Forest dressing-room. Rogers, whose cross drifted into the net to set Forest on course for a win, said none of the players had even discussed relegation.

He said the players would fight to the last to preserve their Premiership status, and the sale of Stone had made them even more determined.

"Sometimes things like that can give you a spur and possibly that's what happened at Wimbledon," said Rogers. "We had to go for the game out there. We had a new formation and we've got to take it on against Middlesbrough on Saturday and make sure we don't flop again."

The former Tranmere wing-back, who cost Forest pounds 2m in the summer of 1997, wished former team-mate Stone well in his new career, which started with a 1-0 defeat at Tottenham.

"Steve Stone is a good player and the club got good money for him. He was always destined to go and good luck to him," said Rogers.

Forest answered the doom-mongers at Wimbledon, where the former Crystal Palace duo Dougie Freedman and Neil Shipperley both scored on their return to Selhurst Park to seal the 3-1 win. The three points gave the strugglers a glimmer of Premiership survival, although Blackburn, Charlton and Coventry all picked up points at the bottom.

Rogers said: "The win has been coming for quite a long time now and if we keep picking up points like that I think we can do it. No one in our changing room is thinking of relegation at all."

The Forest manager, Ron Atkinson, shouted himself hoarse on the touchline in the excitement of the team's fourth win of the season. But Big Ron still has a mountain to climb if he wants to repeat his now-famous Premiership escape act.

Even if he fails, the players at Forest would love to see him stay at the City Ground and try to rebuild the side.

Rogers said: "He's a good manager and we'd like to see Ron stay, but we are just taking every game as it comes. We must finish in as high a position as possible and that's our only aim at the moment."

Goals: Rogers (21) 0-1; Freedman (59) 0-2; Gayle (79) 1-2; Shipperley (84) 1-3.

Wimbledon: Sullivan; Cunningham, Kimble, Perry (Ekoku, 59), Thatcher, Earle, Roberts (Euell, 72), Gayle, Ardley, Kennedy (M Hughes, 72), Hartson. Substitute not used: Heald.

Nottingham Forest: Crossley; Louis-Jean, Rogers, Chettle, Shipperley, Johnson (Bart-Williams, 46), Freedman, Palmer, Edwards, Mattsson, Van Hooijdonk. Subtitutes not used: Beasant, Stensaas, Bonalair, Darcheville.

Referee: K Burge (Tonypandy).

Man of the match: Alan Rogers.

Attendance: 12,149.

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