Harewood makes Palace pay

Nottingham Forest 4 Crystal Palace 2
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Nottinghm Forest surrendered an early two-goal lead before their striker Marlon Harewood put them back on the way to their first victory of the season midway through the second half with a fine curling shot from the edge of the penalty area to celebrate his 22nd birthday.

His partner Stern John underlined it shortly afterwards following a determined challenge on the Palace goalkeeper, Alexander Kolinko. But, until then, it had looked as if one of Forest's former strikers would turn the game round. Dougie Freedman may have made a number of stops on the circular tour which has taken him back to Selhurst Park for a second time, but he has not forgotten his way around the City Ground, where he spent three seasons.

He scored either side of the interval but in the end it was not enough to maintain the 100 per-cent record of both Palace and their new manager Steve Bruce.

"We just have to defend better,'' Bruce said. "We can't keep giving teams two-goal starts. This is the fourth time we've been behind and we can't keep doing that.''

But it was a vindication of Forest manager Paul Hart's faith in his youthful line-up. "It's a new side and a new way of playing and it takes a bit of time to get it all right,'' he observed. "If we are going to play this way it's going to be a bit of a roller-coaster. But they don't feel under any pressure. They just want to pass the ball about and they can only get better.''

They did, as the match wore on but only after Freedman had threatened to haunt his former club in the opening minute. He burst into the penalty area with alarming ease before the ball was scrambled away.

Forest then set about proving Hart right in his view that they were better than their early results have suggested, and Harewood and John both went close before they capitalised on their growing share of possession in the 18th minute.

Harewood crossed from the right to find David Prutton coming in to head home at the far post, and they doubled their advantage five minutes later in similar fashion. This time it was the influential captain Chris Bart-Williams who crossed from a free-kick and John finished with his head at the same far post.

But a two-goal lead always seems more comfortable than it is, and Palace were back in it before the half-hour when they took a leaf out of Forest's book. Tommy Black crossed from the left and it was Freedman's turn to run in at the far post and score.

Palace were unlucky not to restore parity when Steve Thompson's powerful drive from the edge of the box beat the Forest keeper Darren Ward only to cannon back from a post to safety.

Gregg Berhalter's free-kick drifted just wide with Ward again beaten, and after the goalkeeper had parried an angled drive from Black, Julian Gray drove the loose ball over the crossbar.

But five minutes after the break Palace were on terms, Freedman making himself at home again by latching onto a through-ball from Aki Riihilahti and slotting it calmly beneath the advancing Ward. Forest then allowed Riihilahti to burst through and Ward made a vital block before Clinton Morrison scuffed the follow-up wide.

However, Palace's defending was little better and they had to ride their luck when Bart-Williams set up Prutton, who pulled a shot across the face of goal. Jermaine Jenas then contrived to scoop the ball over from three yards and Kolinko saved at the near post from Jim Brennan before Harewood struck and the balance of power finally came to rest with Forest.