Forest find way out of the woods

Manchester City 1 Nottingham Forest 1
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The Independent Online

Manchester City 1 Nottingham Forest 1

Kevin Campbell's long-awaited second installment in paying off his pounds 2.5 million transfer to Forest from Arsenal was scant consolation for the Forest manager, Frank Clark. For all Campbell's delight at a 69th-minute equaliser, his first goal since he incurred a worrying back problem, it was little reward for the Premiership's draw specialists. Ten level scorelines in 17 starts is the stuff of mid-table mediocrity.

Campbell eased his way into his comeback game, adding to his one previous strike at Arsenal, while watching partners in attack fritter away a handful of opportunities. City's record of never scoring twice in a league game this season continued and guaranteed that Clark's men were punished more for their profligacy.

With their captain Keith Curle in an uncustomary and uncomfortable role in midfield, and Alan Kernaghan returning from the wilderness to start his first game of the season at centre-half, it was one of those nights when the Maine Road faithful were in for a roller-coaster ride.

City's rise up the Premier League has been based on three successive home victories, but their shortage of squad depth leaves a lingering doubt about their long-term prospects. However, those who have excelled of late were once more in inspired mood.

Georgi Kinkladze has been a revelation in midfield, and his skill lit up a performance that was careless at the back but workmanlike in attack.

Uwe Rosler has toiled hard without success and his four-month drought in the top flight prompted him to shoot at every opportunity. He hit one 25-yarder over after a fine pass from the admirable Niall Quinn, while a couple more optimistic drives were blocked.

Forest were slow to get going and their mental state was summed up by Campbell, restored to the side in body, if not in mind. When Eike Immel dropped the ball at his feet he was too slow to capitalise.

Grateful City took advantage with a slick goal. Fed by Quinn, Steve Lomas put in a tempting cross that was turned in on the run by Rosler to end his 15-game goalless run in the Premiership.

However, Forest should have soon drawn level through Jason Lee, who intercepted a wayward Immel clearance but gave the ball straight back to the goalkeeper. He then rose unchallenged to head an excellent David Phillips cross wide from point-blank range.

Forest's superiority in all departments bar finishing made the second- half siege a gripping spectacle. Stuart Pearce went forward on the charge and struck the post from the far edge of the box with Scot Gemmill wastefully sending the rebound over. Lee produced a better effort that Immel just tipped over.

High farce arrived midway through the second half when the referee, Keith Burge, had to stop the play as over a dozen bodies lay on top of the ball in the six-yard box as Forest tried to get it over the line in the style of Manchester's answer to the Eton wall game.

It was inevitable that Forest would break through and they did so just moments later when Gemmill's corner was headed down by Lee for Campbell to scramble the ball over the line and spark rare celebrations.

Pearce blotted a driving performance, so typical of his spirit, by collecting a yellow card for a needless foul on Nicky Summerbee.

Manchester City (4-4-2): Immel; Brightwell, Symons, Kernaghan (Brown, 75), Ingram; Summerbee, Kinkladze, Curle, Lomas; Quinn, Rosler. Substitutes not used: Creaney, Coton (gk).

Nottingham Forest (4-4-2): Crossley; Phillips, Cooper, Chettle, Pearce; Stone, Gemmill, Bart-Williams, Woan; Lee, Campbell (Silenzi, 82). Substitutes not used: Haland, Howe.

Referee: K Burge (Tonypandy)