Jermaine Jenas, a teenage product of Nottingham Forest's scholarship programme, scored his second goal of the season last night to lift his cash-strapped side into the top half of the First Division and deny Bradford a chance to move into second place.
The key to both sides' seasons will be how their managers cope with their uniquely pressing circumstances. Forest's Paul Hart is in charge at a club reportedly losing £105,000 per week and where everyone is for sale at the right price. His captain, Chris Bart-Williams, is likely to be first out the door, against the player's wishes, while there will be an increasing reliance on home-grown youngsters such as David Prutton, Jenas, Chris Doig and Gareth Williams, all of whom started last night.
Jim Jefferies also faces financial constraints, even with the parachute payments from the Premiership, and will spend a season – if he stays that long – weighing up the costs and benefits of employing players who believe they should be in the Premiership and are already on salaries that match their aspirations. Foremost among them is Benito Carbone, and his attitude and performances could be vital.
Much of what was creative or dangerous involved the Italian, from a header in the sixth minute to a deflected shot in the 12th to a neat piece of footwork soon after. The dribble ended with a lob that dropped just on the netted side of the crossbar. Carbone was well assisted throughout by Ashley Ward.
Forest's most industrious player in the first half was Prutton, who demonstrated some of flair that has earned him his England Under-21 caps but whose runs from midfield were often wasted by a front line lacking the final touch or the courage to use it. This was most clearly seen when Jack Lester hit a wasted cross instead of trying to score, and when Stern John turned his effort wide rather than in.
Early in the second half, Prutton tried a shot himself but his low drive was easy fodder for Gary Walsh in the Bradford goal. A better opportunity might have fallen to Lester three minutes later but having negotiated the last defender he was unable to control sufficiently to cross or shoot. Williams was more composed, after 62 minutes, to unleash a volley from distance but again Walsh saved.
Carbone and Ward continued to probe, assisted by Eoin Jess, but Forest's defence held firm to soak up pressure between counter-attacks. After 72 minutes the tactic paid off. A through ball reached Jenas, who skipped through a crowded Bradford box before poking past Walsh. Bradford's disappointment was compounded when Robert Molenaar was sent off in injury time.
Nottingham Forest (4-4-2): Ward; Scimeca, Hjelde, Doig, Brennan; Prutton, Jenas, Williams, Bart-Williams; Lester (Harewood, 76), John. Substitutes not used: Roche, Louis-Jean, Gray, Edwards.
Bradford City (4-4-2): Walsh; Halle (Blake, 80), Wetherall, Molenaar, Jacobs; Jess, Locke, McCall, Whalley (Makel, 86); Ward, Carbone. Substitutes not used: Myers, Lawrence, Davison, Makel.
Referee: M J Jones (Leeds).Reuse content