Forest find their own 'new Yorke'

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Stern John, Nottingham Forest's Caribbean recruit from the American game, left Alan Ball stern faced after a dazzling First Division debut last night. John scored one goal and created another in the opening minutes of his English career, ending a run of four defeats for David Platt's side while condemning Ball's Portsmouth to a ninth loss in 12 games.

Stern John, Nottingham Forest's Caribbean recruit from the American game, left Alan Ball stern faced after a dazzling First Division debut last night. John scored one goal and created another in the opening minutes of his English career, ending a run of four defeats for David Platt's side while condemning Ball's Portsmouth to a ninth loss in 12 games.

Perhaps understandably after Forest's wretched form, which had left them in their lowest position since Brian Clough arrived in 1975, the £1.5m signing of John from the American club Columbus Crew did not spark an upsurge of interest. Only 13,841 spectators - nearly 3,000 below the City Ground average - braved the wet and windy conditions, although the Trinidadian's international striking partner, Dwight Yorke, was among them.

The Forest faithful could have been excused for wondering whether, in fact, Platt had somehow persuaded Sir Alex Ferguson to let him have Yorke, his former Aston Villa team-mate, for the night. Wearing a red shirt emblazoned with the same number, 19, that the Manchester United man wears, John's stature and body language were uncannily similar.

Pleasingly for all concerned - apart from those in the Pompey camp - John wasted little time in proving that he shares Yorke's predatory instinct. Only five minutes had elapsed when the newcomer ghosted in to convert Jim Brennan's low cross from the left at the near post with only his second touch in English football.

John had barely doubled his touch tally when he played a major part in Forest's second goal five minutes later. He showed clever control and awareness as he laid off Chris Bart-Williams' pass from the right to Mikkel Beck. The Dane duly stroked the first goal of his loan spell from Derby.

Portsmouth were relieved to see another weapon in John's armoury, the full-blooded drive from outside the box, well saved by Aaron Flahavan midway through the first half. Their response was largely restricted to long range until the 53rd minute, when Lee Bradbury's angled effort cannoned to safety off Riccardo Scimeca.

Two minutes later, Bradbury found himself clear on the Portsmouth left following woeful positional play by Forest's veteran Italian right-back Moreno Mannini. Steve Claridge materialised on the penalty spot to meet the ensuing pass, only to miss his kick completely.

John, while not enjoying the service his compatriot receives from Messrs Beckham and Giggs, might have had a hat-trick. But, as introductions go, it was highly satisfactory.

Nottingham Forest (4-4-2): Crossley; Mannini (Doig, 62), Scimeca, Hjelde, Brennan; Prutton, Johnson, Bart-Williams, Rogers (Quashie, 83); John (Freedman, 87), Beck. Substitutes not used: Gray, Beasant (gk).

Portsmouth (4-4-2): Flahavan; Crowe, Whitbread, Moore (Pamarot, 62), Awford; Panopoulos (Igoe, 58), Brown, McLoughlin, Robinson; Claridge, Bradbury. Substitutes not used: Phillips, Whittingham, Petterson (gk).

Referee: E Wolstenholme (Blackburn).

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