Forest tune up for moment of truth

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The Independent Online
JOHN DOUGRAY

Middlesbrough 1 Nottingham Forest 1

It was put to Frank Clark that he must have been relieved to get the match with Middlesbrough out of the way, in view of Nottingham Forest's Uefa Cup quarter final second leg against Bayern Munich at the City Ground tomorrow night.

However, the Forest manager was having none of it. "I'm disappointed we didn't win it. To concede a goal from the restart, after we had taken the lead, was very unprofessional. If we had held them for another five or 10 minutes, we could have won the game."

Clark was oddly flattering about a contest that had few outstanding moments and many interruptions. These began after 14 minutes when the referee, Alan Wilkie, pulled a muscle and had to be carried off. He had only just booked Middlesbrough's Jamie Pollock for dissent before the senior linesman, Andy Butler, took over. He then cautioned another six players, mainly for tripping.

The Forest manager ignored the bookings - four against his side - in his after-match comments. Instead he praised both teams for playing "a lot of good football out there without the end product''.

That was not, strictly speaking, correct. Each side scored between the 56th and 57th minutes. Forest went ahead when a pass from Pollock to Branco was intercepted by Chris Bart-Williams. He moved swiftly into the Middlesbrough half before releasing Kevin Campbell, whose low cross from the left was mis-hit by Derek Whyte, leaving Chris Allen, on loan from Oxford United, an open invitation. Middlesbrough replied immediately. Neil Cox played a long ball down the middle where John Hendrie laid it off to Nick Barmby, who ran forward for the return and headed it down to Robbie Mustoe, whose mis-hit shot deceived Mark Crossley.

Despite both their Brazilians, Juninho and Branco, starting a game together for the first time, it was not until Middlesbrough had equalised that they finally found a fluency.

Forest were without Steve Stone and Ian Woan, but they are both expected to play tomorrow night. Bryan Roy, however, is still doubtful.

Goals: Allen (56) 0-1; Mustoe (57) 1-1.

Middlesbrough (4-3-2-1): Walsh; Cox, Pearson, Whyte, Fleming; Mustoe, Branco, Pollock; Barmby, Juninho; Hendrie. Substitutes not used: Fjortoft, Kavanagh, Hignett.

Nottingham Forest (4-3-3): Crossley; Lyttle, Cooper, Chettle, Pearce; Gemmill (Howe, 78), Phillips, Bart-Williams; McGregor, Campbell, Allen. Substitutes not used: Silenzi, Fettis (gk).

Referee: A Wilkie (Chester-le-Street) replaced by A Butler (Wigan) because of injury.

Bookings: Nottingham Forest Allen, Gemmill, Cooper, Howe. Middlesbrough Pollock, Branco, Whyte.

Man of the match: Mustoe. Attendance: 29,392.

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