Eastwood strike fatal for Forest

Coventry City 1 Nottingham Forest 0
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The Independent Football

Billy Davies rarely appears in philosophical mood and it would have been a surprise if he had been any different after his side's defeat last night. Freddy Eastwood sentenced Forest to their second defeat in three matches, thereby casting doubt on their ability to last the distance in the Championship promotion race after a January transfer window during which Davies was frustrated in his desire to add to his squad.

Perhaps he has been given the hard word at the City Ground to reign in his criticisms of club owner Nigel Doughty's refusal to strengthen last month. The blue touchpaper on the Scot has been fizzing for some weeks now, but there was no sign of explosion after Eastwood's seventh goal of the season supplied the only significant statistic to add to assistant referee Amy Fearn becoming the first woman to referee in the Football League.

Fearn had to replace Anthony Bates for the final 20 minutes, but it is the final 16 games of the season Davies prefers to concentrate on, rather than go spraying bullets. "Why should I explode?" he asked. "We are four points off the top of the table and have 16 games to go. We still have everything to aim for and we have to look forward in positive fashion."

Davies has been predicting for weeks that Forest would hit a rocky patch, hence his apparent ease with the situation, but deep down the lack of backing for the transformation he has performed over the last 12 month is hugely frustrating. He will remain "upbeat, passionate and enthusiastic"; whether he can persuade his players to do likewise is uncertain.

He can still count himself unfortunate to have suffered a rare set-back at the Ricoh Arena. Eastwood has hardly been a resounding success since his move to Coventry and the pressure on him to deliver goals has intensified since the departure of Leon Best on the last day of the transfer window. He responded with a scrambled effort from close range in the 25th minute, while manager Chris Coleman hit back at the critics who have questioned the commitment of owner Ray Ranson. "It sickens me a little to hear people complain about the chairman. Three years ago this club almost went out of business," he said.

Forest could still have salvaged something. Guy Moussi chested Chris Cohen's free-kick wide from close range and Chris Gunter struck a post, but Davies may have been resigned from early on that it was not going to be his night.

Coventry City (4-4-2): Westwood; Wright, McPake, Wood, Crainie; Bell (Baker, 81), Gunnarson (Deegan, 63), Clingan, McIndoe; Eastwood, Morrison. Substitutes not used: Konstantopoulos (gk), Hussey, Barnett, Grandison, Jeffers.

Nottingham Forest (4-4-1-1): Camp; Gunter, Morgan, Wilson, Cohen; Garner (Earnshaw, 68), Moussi (McGugan, 77), McKenna, Anderson (McGoldrick, 72); Majewski; Blackstock. Substitutes not used: Smith (gk), Perch, Chambers, Adebola.

Referee: T Bates (Staffordshire).

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