Forest keep home fires burning

Nottingham Forest 2 Crystal Palace 0
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The Independent Football

The current Nottingham Forest team have a long way to go before they can be compared with some of the great sides in City Ground history, but Billy Davies's promotion hopefuls equalled a 30-year-old club record last night when they recorded their 12th consecutive home league victory. The last time Forest enjoyed such a run was in 1980, during Brian Clough's glory years, when four home wins at the start of the season followed the eight recorded at the end of the previous campaign.

Forest have conceded only four goals during their remarkable run at the City Ground, which began at the end of November. Crystal Palace rarely looked capable of denting that record, particularly after being reduced to 10 men early in the second half, and this result leaves Paul Hart's team even deeper in relegation trouble.

While Forest often lacked fluency in attack, this win keeps alive their hopes of catching West Bromwich Albion, who are in the second automatic promotion place. "If we keep winning we will put the pressure on," Davies said after the match. "Things can change very quickly."

Davies is hoping to bring in "one or two new faces" before this week's deadline for loan signings and said he would continue to be "a pain" as he argued with his board for funds to strengthen his team.

Hart was one of Davies's predecessors as manager at the City Ground and was given a warm reception by the home fans. For 43 minutes it looked as though his team might keep Forest at bay, but an insipid first half ended with a glorious goal from an unlikely source. When Paul Anderson rolled the ball across the edge of the Palace penalty area Wes Morgan was given time and space to size up his target and thunder a full-blooded strike into the far corner of the net from 25 yards.

Five minutes into the second half Palace's task was made even harder when Matt Lawrence, misjudging the bounce of a through ball to Robert Earnshaw, stopped it with his hand. Andy Hall, the referee, brought out a red card. Hart complained that Lawrence would not have been in trouble had Hall punished Dexter Blackstock moments earlier for a foul on Clint Hill.

Palace had already been forced to reorganise their defence once when Danny Butterfield limped off with a hamstring injury after only five minutes and Forest soon started opening up gaps. Never the less they did not seal the points until nine minutes from time, when Nathan Tyson, running on to Anderson's pass, beat Julian Speroni from close range.

Until that point Palace had still been in contention, although they created few chances from open play. The closest they came to scoring was with Darren Ambrose's free-kicks, but Alan Lee and Stern John, the two strikers, rarely troubled a well-organised Forest back line.

Nottingham Forest (4-4-2): Camp; Chambers, Wilson, Morgan, Gunter; Cohen, Moussi, Anderson (McGoldrick, 90), Majewski (McCleary, 74); Blackstock, Earnshaw (Tyson, 80). Substitutes not used: Smith (gk), McGugan, Adebola, Boyd.

Crystal Palace (4-4-2): Speroni; Butterfield (Scannell, 5), Lawrence, Hill, Hills (Djilali, 85); Ertl, Derry, Danns, Ambrose; John (Andrew, 80), Lee. Substitutes not used: Mann (gk), Scannell, N'Diaye, Comley, Cadogan.

Referee: A R Hall (West Midlands).

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