Earnshaw 'too casual' as Forest pay the penalty

Nottingham Forest 0 Birmingham City 0
Click to follow
The Independent Online

An absorbing stalemate saw Nottingham Forest and Birmingham City extend their unbeaten sequences to 17 and 12 games respectively, although the replay neither club wanted could have been avoided but for the latest spot-kick aberration by Forest's Robert Earnshaw.

With 63 minutes played, the Wales striker stepped up to try to beat Joe Hart from 12 yards. The Premier League's finest have found the task beyond them from closer range recently and the goalkeeper's burgeoning reputation may have played on Earnshaw's mind. He missed the target, just as he did at a critical stage in Forest's home defeat by West Bromwich Albion. Billy Davies, the Forest manager, revealed he had told Earnshaw that his run-up was "too casual", adding: "The penalty miss was a huge turning point, but there should have been only one winner." His fellow Glaswegian, Alex McLeish, stressed that Forest's Lee Camp had also excelled between the posts. "Maybe he should be No 2 to Hart in the England set-up," he said with tongue in cheek.

Davies and McLeish made it plain that their priorities lie in the league by making three and six changes respectively to the sides responsible for their elevated positions. Birmingham had to make more adjustments as first Stuart Parnaby and then captain Lee Carsley sustained first-half injuries.

Before the penalty Forest's best opportunity came a minute before half-time. Radoslaw Majewski delivered an inswinging corner which Luke Chambers met with a header, the ball hitting the underside of the bar before being cleared.

Earnshaw's chance to end the deadlock arrived after an injudicious challenge by Gregory Vignal on Paul Anderson. If Steve Bennett had no hesitation pointing to the spot the same could not be said of the attacker's approach. A faltering run-up betrayed his lack of conviction and the ball cleared the crossbar.

Hart had earlier shown why McLeish was keen to make his loan move permanent, and why Manchester City indicated they will want him back, with an agile save from Chris Cohen. The keeper further frustrated Earnshaw who looked set to find the far corner two minutes after his penalty blunder until Hart dived to divert the ball behind.

For Birmingham, Kevin Phillips bludgeoned a shot against the post from 30 yards with the keeper beaten, but Camp's late save from a Barry Ferguson header ensured that Forest will have a second chance at St Andrew's on Tuesday week.

Attendance: 20,975

Referee: Steve Bennett

Man of the match: McKenna

Match rating: 6/10

Comments