Commons has the touch to stop Forest falling over edge

Plight of a once great club
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Given that it was a man with the common touch who steered Nottingham Forest to their greatest glories, it was perhaps fitting that 25 years after the second of Forest's European Cup victories it should be a man called Commons who scored the goal that earned them a 1-0 victory over Burnley at the City Ground and saved them from the indignity of descent to the third tier of the England game for the first time since 1951.

Given that it was a man with the common touch who steered Nottingham Forest to their greatest glories, it was perhaps fitting that 25 years after the second of Forest's European Cup victories it should be a man called Commons who scored the goal that earned them a 1-0 victory over Burnley at the City Ground and saved them from the indignity of descent to the third tier of the England game for the first time since 1951.

Sadly for those who hold the club dear and have lasting respect for Brian Clough, the man who guided Forest to those two unlikely European triumphs, this may be only a stay of execution. Despite Kris Commons' 70th-minute winner from close range, League One still beckons.

News of Crewe's defeat at home to Stoke further raised the spirits of the City Ground faithful, but Gary Megson, Forest's manager, fully appreciates how tough the task of avoiding relegation remains with two games to play - away to Queen's Park Rangers and at home to Gillingham.

"We have to go to QPR and give it our best shot and hope we get the result we need," he said. "Then we have to keep our fingers crossed with regard to how other teams fare."

Clough, as the master manipulator of player potential and as the strict disciplinarian, would have been saddened by the current state of the club that he left when it dropped out of the Premier League in 1993. Although they bounced back, another descent began with relegation again in 1999.

Since then things have begun to look desperate and Forest's preparations for the vital encounter had last week been hampered by reports of up to 12 players abusing bar staff and smashing glasses during a drinking session.

However, they almost made the perfect start when Paul Evans saw his goalbound 35-yard free-kick blocked, but Burnley gained a foothold by counter-attacking. Ade Akinbiyi and James O'Connor should have put them ahead in the first 30 minutes before Forest stepped up a gear.

Scott Dobie headed over from Evans' cross before Commons fired over, and the lively Evans then tested Burnley goalkeeper Danny Coyne from distance.

Burnley remained a threat, but Akinbiyi could not find a way past Colin Doyle in the Forest goal and finally Gareth Taylor, Forest's former Clarets striker, began to make more of an impact in attack alongside Dobie. With 20 minutes remaining, they helped to create Commons' winner. Taylor found John Curtis on the right flank, and he sent over a wicked cross which Dobie met with a firm header back across the face of goal. As the ball ran loose, Commons raced in to fire the ball home into the far corner for his seventh goal of the season.

It may be 25 years since Forest were at their best, but they still produce good players, which financial imperatives have obliged them to sell. Commons can look the star of the show, but only since the departure of Andy Reid, who now plies his trade in the Premiership on the left of Tottenham's midfield. With him at Spurs is Michael Dawson, who made an impact in his first two outings at centre-back since overcoming a shin injury.

There are more like that pair in the pipeline, but they may well have to learn their trade at a lower level.

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