Forest on fire as McGugan blasts Bluebirds off perch

Cardiff City 0 Nottingham Forest 2
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The Independent Football

Cardiff City surrendered top place in the Championship as Jay Bothroyd endured a miserable afternoon. After making his debut for England in midweek, the striker left his goal-scoring form behind, fluffing two straightforward chances.

A cruel – dare one say Welsh – joke may have it that Bothroyd suddenly looked like an England centre-forward, although humour was in short supply here yesterday. The Cardiff City Stadium had just seen the second home defeat in as many games – allowing Swansea, in third, to close the gap on their neighbours to three points – as Nottingham Forest grabbed the chance to stride ever further into the play-off picture.

Afterwards Billy Davies, the Forest manager, reiterated the need to strengthen his squad, for all that the chairman Nigel Doughty has already put in £60 million over the last 11 years, according to last week's accounts. "People should listen to me and my staff as we know what it takes to get out of this division," said Davies pointedly. "It takes quality and quantity over a long season. Look at the bench, look at the numbers. I am hoping we can make additions."

Whether he can is debatable. What isn't is the potential of Lewis McGugan. The 21-year-old scored one and set up the other to add to his burgeoning reputation. That is nine goals this season from central midfield and once again his effort was a long-range spectacular. "It was another great goal, another great strike," said Davies. "That's what he does."

As, before yesterday, did Bothroyd. "He'll be disappointed as they were really good chances," said Terry Burton, Cardiff's assistant manager. His first howler came in the 19th minute when he was put in by a fine Craig Bellamy through-ball. He rounded the goalkeeper, Lee Camp, and with the open net glaring, fired the wrong side of the near post.

Forest were soon to capitalise. Four minutes later, McGugan's right-footer from 25 yards left Tom Heaton, the Manchester United loanee, grasping at air. Bothroyd should have levelled after Bellamy steamed down the right and sent in an inch-perfect cross: from three yards out, Bothroyd could only strike Camp.

After that Cardiff laboured as their passing game broke down. Six minutes from time McGugan did his own Bellamy impression down the left flank before picking out Dexter Blackstock for a clinical conversion, sealing City's second defeat in 11 games.