Wigan Athletic 2 Nottingham Forest 1 match report: Billy Davies seething as Forest come up short


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The Independent Football

The visitors' dressing-room backs onto the press toilets at the DW Stadium. Usual insights are reliably restricted to dubious musical tastes, but at half-time of this match, only the rasping voice of Billy Davies was audible. When put politely, the Nottingham Forest manager was not happy with his team's performance. It was industrial strength stuff. Given what he'd seen, it was also understandable.

Although Forest improved in the second period, it was not enough to secure a point. Wigan sat deep, encouraged pressure, defended well and deserved their victory.

The focus, though remains on Davies. At the final whistle, he strode on to the pitch and prodded his finger in the direction of referee Craig Pawson. Davies was adamant that he would speak about flashpoints afterwards, responding "no comment," to several simple questions.

It remained clear why Davies was unhappy. He was unhappy with Shaun Maloney being allowed to feint a shot before striking his penalty kick for the equaliser; he was unhappy when his own team were denied their own opportunity from the spot by Pawson, who was not convinced by Chris Cohen's fall under a challenge by Leon Barnett. "It wasn't us in those first 45 minutes," Davies just about conceded.

The first half, indeed, summed up the Championship: unpredictable, full-blooded, sometimes scruffy, and laden with goals. The first one, by Forest's Andy Reid, was a spectacular left-footed free-kick, which hit the highest point of Scott Carson's left post and flew in.

That, though, was as good as it got for the visitors, who seemed a little too eager to justify their status at the start of the day as the Championship's best team. Their play was rushed, their passing was often misplaced and, in the opening half hour alone, two players were booked for late tackles.

This approach was not entirely aggressive but rather clumsy and from one such misjudgement, Wigan were afforded a penalty when Marc-Antoine Fortuné was chopped down by Jack Hobbs; Maloney scored from the spot.

Forest may have had their grievances with that one, but they could do little to stop Fortune's contribution to the goal that proved to be the match-winner. From 35-yards out, the French striker thumped a ferocious shot. It deserved more but Karl Darlow was equal to it, pushing the ball on to the crossbar. From the rebound, though, Jordi Gomez reacted first to secure a half-time lead.

Now, Wigan's boss Owen Coyle hopes to keep James McCarthy at the club, after a bid from Everton was rejected last week. "If an offer comes in, it will at least have to reflect his value," he insisted.

Wigan (4-4-2): Cierzniak; Watson, Gunning, Dillon, Robertson; Mackay-Steven, Paton, Rankin, Armstrong; Goodwillie (Gauld, 71), Ciftci. Substitutes not used McCallum, Butcher, Wilson, Souttar, Erskene, Graham.

Nottingham Forest (4-4-2): Forster; Matthews, Ambrose, van Dijk, Izaguirre; Boerrigter (Rogic, 83), Brown, Ledley, Lustig (Balde, 58); Stokes, Commons. Substitutes not used Zaluska, Mouyokolo, Herron, Atajic, McGeouch.

Referee C Pawson.