It does not take long for confidence to be replaced with consternation in the Championship. Just ask Nottingham Forest. The club is not falling apart at the seams, nor is Billy Davies' head about to be served on a platter to appease a bloodthirsty crowd, but this was their third consecutive away defeat and Forest fans must now look back to the previous 19-match unbeaten run with dismay.
An element of self-doubt has entered Forest's play and, as has been seen so often before, self-doubt is the rock upon which promotion campaigns can founder, not that Davies would admit as much afterwards.
"It wasn't our day – we are having a little blip at the moment, but I've been saying for weeks that these things will happen," the manager said.
"Why should I be down? We are still in the top three. We have to fight through good times and bad times. Little things are going against us and there is nothing you can do about that."
Forest were comfortably second- best long before Garath McCleary's straight red card late on for a tackle on John Oster, as Sean O'Driscoll's men turned round their own recent slump with a hard-working victory in a niggly and tense encounter thanks to Billy Sharp's well taken first- half goal.
The early passages were fluent enough with possession equally shared but chances were few as the sides cancelled each other out. Mark Wilson had an attempt easily parried by the Forest goalkeeper, Lee Camp, and although Chris Gunter thought he was due a penalty after Neil Sullivan impeded him at the other end, his appeals went unheard.
Davies had dropped Dexter Blackstock to the bench for a rest and although Dele Adebola works hard when played up front on his own, it was clear that Forest missed Blackstock's energy – and the story was the same out on the wing where Nathan Tyson had replaced Paul Anderson.
Rovers, without a League win in four games, seized their chance when Sharp scored with a clever header after 31 minutes. James Chambers crossed from the left wing and Sharp, noticing that Camp had come too far off his line, caught the goalkeeper on the wrong foot and steered the ball brilliantly past him.
Forest should have replied at once when Tyson hared through on Sullivan's goal but the goalkeeper blocked well and Radoslaw Majewski slashed the rebound over the crossbar.
The second half was much livelier and the referee, Andy Penn, had a job maintaining control as tempers flared. But real chances stayed thin on the ground with the middle of the park consistently busier than either end as neither side pressed with any style.
"Any point in this division is great for us especially against a side as good as Forest so I'm delighted," O'Driscoll said. "I thought the performance merited the win." Of his on-loan match-winner he added: "Billy Sharp is not my player, he's Sheffield United's player, so I can't say what I'd like to do with him in the summer. Of course I would like to keep him, but someone needs to give me a million quid."Reuse content