McGugan lowers Keane sights

Nottingham Forest 2 Ipswich Town 0
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The Independent Football

Roy Keane's brutally honest assessment that Ipswich can write off the prospect of automatic promotion may not endear him to owner Marcus Evans but appears entirely accurate. The pressure is building on the Irishman after a damning indictment of his current squad was followed by another defeat, leaving Ipswich with one victory from their last six games.

David McGoldrick's first goal in 10 months and Lewis McGugan's spectacular, outrageous free-kick from 35 yards condemned Keane to another miserable return to the City Ground. Forest are certainly more capable of sustaining a challenge for promotion. This win extended their unbeaten home record in the Championship to 26 games.

Keane's future will again be under the microscope after his candid verdict on his aspirations for the season, which he claims have been severely damaged by a lack of summer spending. "We're not happy with three defeats in a row," he said. "I'm not writing anything off but we know where we're at. We're asking young players to do man's jobs. We're short at the moment and we need to respond against Northampton on Tuesday night."

The early tedium was skewered in the 13th minute after a sublime attacking move ended in McGoldrick's first goal of the campaign. Radoslaw Majewski cleverly set Chris Cohen free on the left with a cute flick and the Forest midfielder's excellent cross was bundled in at the near post by McGoldrick.

Ipswich could have been level shortly after but missed two opportunities in five seconds, with Luke Chambers heading Jack Colback's shot off the goalline before Lee Camp denied David Norris from the rebound. Midfield sparring rendered the remainder of the half a non-event until McGugan's piece of magic just before half-time. McGugan conducted a lengthy run-up to take the free-kick and arrowed an unstoppable effort into the top right corner. "A goal of the season contender," said his manager Billy Davies.

The second half yielded no dramatic improvement from the visitors, despite the introduction of Connor Wickham, the young forward who was watched yesterday by representatives from Manchester City, Spurs and Everton. Camp denied Wickham twice as time ebbed away but quite what Evans has made of recent events should be interesting.