Forest's striking need for fresh hit man

Nottingham Forest 2 Tottenham Hotspur 1
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The Independent Online
Harping on about Stan Collymore attracts icy stares at the City Ground, not least from the manager. Without their maverick striker, however, Forest have been a diluted force, reaching last year's highs only occasionally and existing largely on survival skills in Europe, where their limitations were ultimately - inevitably - exposed. And yet their season might still end in cheers.

In denting Tottenham's hopes of qualifying for the Uefa Cup, they kept alive their own. Only six games remain, but a finish to match last year's, which gained 14 points from the corresponding sequence, might secure another chance on the broader stage. They have still to face Manchester United and Newcastle.

But can they do it without Collymore? Frank Clark may not care to be reminded but there is no getting away from the truth. Neither Kevin Campbell nor Andrea Silenzi, acquired for a combined pounds 4.3m, has looked likely to become the replacement Clark sought, managing only three Premiership goals between them. And Bryan Roy, joint leading scorer with a paltry seven, no longer looks value for the pounds 2m he cost two years ago.

The Dutchman disappeared at half-time, having tweaked a hamstring. He is doubtful for today's trip to Leeds, in common with Silenzi, who has an ankle injury. Campbell may return, although such news is unlikely to prompt dancing in the streets.

It is a problem to which Clark is seeking a European solution, scanning the Continent for post-Bosman free transfer candidates, reasoning that it would be better to pay high wages for known international talent than find pounds 2m or more for unproven domestic promise. Hence Jean-Pierre Papin, Roberto Mancini, even Gianluca Vialli, are being discussed as potential targets.

His chances of tempting such a name, however, probably depend on the lure of European competition, to which end Clark is banking on the perennial inspiration of Stuart Pearce and on his goal-makers turning goal-scorers, as happened on Saturday. It may be a forlorn hope. As Clark admitted, Forest won without fluency, punishing the visitors for failing to turn chances into goals, and for lapses in defence.

Defeat was a blow to Tottenham, although their manager, Gerry Francis, was inclined to laugh it off, wryly amused that Ian Woan, whose stunning free-kicks helped dash his FA Cup hopes last month, should inflict more spectacular damage with his weaker, right foot.

"It was another tale of Woan for us," he cracked. Then again, he has Teddy Sheringham (24 goals) and Chris Armstrong (19 with Saturday's consolation) leading his line - and four points more already banked.

Goals: Stone (41) 1-0; Woan (63) 2-0; Armstrong (81) 2-1.

Nottingham Forest (4-4-2): Crossley; Lyttle, Cooper, Chettle, Pearce; McGregor (Guinan, 88), Stone, Bart-Williams, Woan; Roy (Haaland, h-t), Lee. Substitute not used: Howe.

Tottenham Hotspur (4-4-2): Walker; Austin, Nethercott, Campbell, Wilson; Fox, Dozzell, Howells (Edinburgh, 76), Sinton (Rosenthal, 75); Armstrong, Sheringham. Substitute not used: Day (gk).

Referee: P Allcock (Redhill).

Bookings: Forest: Cooper, Pearce. Tottenham: Howells.

Man of the match: Pearce. Attendance: 27,053.

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