Forest in good heart for Bavarian assignment

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The Independent Online
Sheffield Wednesday 1 Nottingham Forest 3

A week ago, Forest's appointment in Bayern Munich's Olympic Stadium tomorrow loomed as something to dread rather than to relish. After their defeat at Everton, when they were as poor as they can have been under Frank Clark, it seemed to be coming round at just the wrong time.

The prospect of facing Klinsmann and company almost demanded a plea for clemency. Seven days on, they can scarcely remember how worried they were.

To say that most teams these days derive palliative benefits from playing Sheffield Wednesday would undoubtedly be true, but it would also undervalue the worth of this victory, which enabled Forest to board this morning's outward flight convinced a Uefa Cup semi-final place is within their scope, after all.

"Psychologically it was very important," Clark, their manager, confirmed. "We had lost five away games in a row and we needed to bring that run to an end. It was an excellent team performance in which everyone worked very hard and they got the result they deserved."

No one could argue with that, even taking into account the injury to Chris Woods that left Wednesday reliant on Steve Nicol to keep goal. The only trouble is that this was a team born of emergency, rather than design. Ian Woan, saviour of Forest's FA Cup ambitions against Tottenham last week, pulled out with a sore knee, Steve Stone with a virus, which also ruled out Andrea Silenzi. Missing, too, was Colin Cooper as well as Stuart Pearce, captain and inspiration, now regarded as "doubtful" for tomorrow's test.

Hence the inclusion of 21-year-old Paul McGregor and 22-year-old Stephen Howe, two young men driven, in Clark's words, by "the enthusiasm and naivety of youth" to score a spectacular goal each and set up Forest's first away win in the Premiership since 14 October.

Howe, in particular, caught the eye, displaying sharp passing skills as well as a hungriness for goal. But, if the absentees return, neither will start in Munich.

A week ago, there would have been no place, either, for Bryan Roy. But the pounds 2.5m Dutchman has emerged from his mid-season slump to give a timely charge to Forest's confidence. His goal here, set up skilfully by the on-loan Oxford winger, Chris Allen, merely added lustre to his sharpest display in weeks.

Goals: Howe (10) 0-1; McGregor (46) 0-2; Kovacevic (50) 1-2; Roy (80) 1-3.

Sheffield Wednesday (3-5-2): Woods (Pembridge, h-t); Atherton, Watts, Walker; Stefanovic (Humphreys, 70), Hyde (Waddle, h-t), Degryse, Nicol, Nolan; Whittingham, Kovacevic.

Nottingham Forest (4-1-2-3): Crossley; Lyttle, Haaland, Chettle, Phillips; Bart-Williams; Gemmill, Howe (Black, 67); McGregor (Allen, 73), Campbell, Roy. Substitute not used: Armstrong.

Referee: G Poll (Tring).

Booked: Forest: Roy, Haaland.

Man of the match: Howe Attendance: 21,930.