Forest faced with bleak outlook

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The Independent Online
Aston Villa 2 Nottingham Forest 0

Frank Clark needed no reminding that Forest were in deep trouble. What he had not quite taken into consideration was that his ailing team has still to face most of the healthiest ones in the land. Until that point was made he was surprisingly, bafflingly, up-beat about some "good things" he, and only he, saw in his team's lame performance against a none too sprightly Villa.

When it came to the reminder that losing to a fair to moderate side suggested that come the time to face better quality opponents things could only get worse, suddenly the forced optimism withered on his face. "I hadn't thought of that". Forest's deterioration since those days last season when they were the Premiership's most successful team in Europe was summed up in another of those initially attractive but ultimately jumbled displays that cried out for fresh support for the ever-willing Dean Saunders.

Any infusion of new players could be a long time coming. Indeed, Clark admitted that by the time the financial people sift through the 14 applicants to carry out a takeover, danger could have become crisis and the money, if it comes, could be spent by his successor.

A manager anticipating the worst is unlikely to get the best out of what he has, but Clark says he can work it out on the practice pitch. Perhaps so but, if practice brings strength and skill, it rarely does wonders for spirit and determination, the things that Andy Townsend and Ian Taylor had in such copious supply for Villa that it blanketed a multitude of their team's own failings.

Villa themselves needed the confidence-lifting win but should never have had the opportunity since Forest misplaced a clutch of early chances, mainly at the feet and head of Jason Lee, and kept possession fairly well. Then the gift of luck that eludes sides in Forest's position swung towards Villa when a free-kick by Dwight Yorke deflected kindly for Carl Tiler to score and start discovering that his former team no longer has the commitment for a fight-back.

Once Fernando Nelson had stopped a frail header from Lee on the goalline it hardly needed Mark Crossley to confirm his current lack of confidence with a weak attempt to beat Ugo Ehiogu in the air to condemn Forest into watching Yorke overhead-kick a second goal.

Understandably a few of their potential investors have made it clear that cash offers depend on the club remaining in the Premiership. No promissory notes from the club on this score.

Goals: Tiler (20) 1-0; Yorke (65) 2-0.

Aston Villa (3-5-2): Oakes; Ehiogu, Southgate, Tiler; Nelson, Townsend, Curcic, Taylor, Wright; Yorke, Johnson. Substitutes not used: Draper, Joachim, Farrelly, Scimeca, Rachel (gk).

Nottingham Forest (4-4-2): Crossley; Lyttle, Cooper, Chettle, Pearce; Gemmill, Haland, Phillips (Roy, 78), Woan; Lee, Saunders. Substitutes not used: Jerkan, Allen, Howe, Fettis (gk).

Bookings: Nottingham Forest: Woan, Haland.

Referee: L Dilkes (Mossley).

Man of the match: Townsend. Attendance: 35,310.

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