Blackstock lights Forest fires as Blues regain second spot

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The Independent Football

Dexter Blackstock's dramatic injury-time winner at the City Ground has given Nottingham Forest a fighting chance of avoiding an immediate return to League One, their 3-2 defeat of Bristol City lifting them out of the bottom three. Forest twice trailed, but goals by Robert Earnshaw and, after Bristol's Jamie McAllister was sent off, Joe Garner levelled to set up Blackstock's late intervention.

"A fantastic display of courage in the end," Forest's manager, Billy Davies, said, adding that Blackstock "led the line brilliantly. He was a big asset to us holding the ball up. His flick-ons were invaluable and he showed great technique for his goal."

The result dropped Norwich City, beaten 2-1 at Swansea City, Jason Scotland scoring twice to take his season's total to 23, into the relegation zone. Also still on the critical list are Barnsley, despite the point picked up from a 1-1 draw at resurgent Watford. But four first-half goals saw Plymouth Argyle thrash Coventry City 4-0 at Home Park to ease the Devon side's situation.

No change in the doomed outlook for bottom club Charlton Athletic despite them holding Birmingham City to a goalless draw. The point saw Alex McLeish's side regain the Championship's second automatic promotion place, which Sheffield United had briefly usurped on Friday.

"It's in our hands," the Blues manager, Alex McLeish, said. "Sheffield United have hard games left, the same as us. Nobody has an easy game but it comes down to temperament and how much the players want it, because there is nothing between the teams."

In the play-off places, Burnley and Cardiff City consolidated. Clark Carlisle scored in the Clarets' 1-0 home win over Queens Park Rangers, who not for the first time this season found themselves in the temporary charge of Gareth Ainsworth after a managerial sacking (Paulo Sousa's tenure lasted 26 matches and ended a week after Blackstock was loaned to Forest without, he said, his knowledge). Burnley are sixth, seven points clear of their nearest pursuers.

Meanwhile, Cardiff moved above waning Reading to fourth when Ross McCormack scored both goals in a 2-0 win after an ill-tempered match at Crystal Palace, which saw managers Dave Jones (Cardiff), incensed by Palace defender Claude Davis's clash with Roger Johnson, and Neil Warnock sent to the stands. "Claude didn't elbow him," Warnock insisted. "If anything, [Johnson] ran into his arm."

Elsewhere, Rob Hulse's header saw Derby County win 1-0 at Sheffield Wednesday, but Ipswich Town lost at home, 3-1 to Doncaster Rovers. Jim Magilton's side have won only once in their past 10 home games.

In League One, leaders Leicester City won 3-1 at Hereford United, while Brentford's lead at the top of League Two is two points after a 1-1 draw with Exeter City.

In Scotland, Jan Vennegoor of Hesselink's 12-yard volley after just 30 seconds gave Celtic an early lead at Hearts but Bruno Aguiar curled in a 30-yard free-kick for a share of the spoils, while Kris Boyd scored twice as Rangers beat Motherwell 3-1 at Ibrox to close the gap at the top of the Scottish Premier League to one point.