Jones off as Forest catch fire

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The Independent Online

Nottingham Forest 4 Wimbledon 1

Joe Kinnear, back on the touchline for the first time after his six- month banishment to the stands, stepped straight into fresh controversy after Forest inflicted a seventh straight defeat on his Wimbledon side at the City Ground last night.

Forest's victory was overshadowed by the sending-off of Vinnie Jones, the 10th dismissal of his career, an incident which prompted Kinnear to describe referee Paul Alcock's handling of the match as "disgraceful".

Jones was ordered from the field after being shown the yellow card twice in the space of 12 minutes at the end of the first half. There seemed nothing contentious about his second misdemeanour, a blatant obstruction of Bryan Roy in full flight, but it was the first that provoked his manager's wrath.

Jones was cautioned for dissent, complaining that Ian Woan should have been ruled offside in a goal attempt. Television seemed to prove the Wimbledon captain's point and, to make matters worse, Alcock chose to punish the offence with a free-kick, in an advantageous position for Forest just outside the penalty area, from which Stuart Pearce gave them a 2- 1 lead.

"I thought the referee was just dreadful," Kinnear said. "He was very, very poor and I just hope the Referees' Association are looking in and do something about it. These things seem to be happening to us week in, week out.

His opposite number, Frank Clark, celebrating his 100th league match in charge at the City Ground, acknowledged that Jones' dismissal took the gloss off the result. "The game was interestingly poised at the time and it takes away some of the satisfaction of winning."

Forest were not measurably the superior side, irrespective of the controversy. Although Roy's brilliant opening goal, flicked past Simon Tracey with the inside of his right heel, was cancelled out within three minutes when Jones volleyed home Gary Elkins' corner, one sensed Forest had something in hand.

After Pearce had driven them ahead, aided by a deflection off a defender, Jason Lee prodded home his third goal in as many league games and Scot Gemmill celebrated his call into the Scotland squad by heading in Steve Stone's cross two minutes from time, the fourth goal displacing Arsenal in third place.

The statistics make good reading for Forest, unbeaten in 25 Premiership matches. Less so for Wimbledon, who have had a player sent off in three consecutive league games.

Nottingham Forest (4-4-2): Crossley; Lyttle, Cooper, Chettle, Pearce; Stone, Gemmill, Bart-Williams, Woan; Lee (Silenzi, 80), Roy. Substitutes not used: Haland, McGregor.

Wimbledon (4-5-1): Tracey; Cunningham, Thorn, Perry, Elkins; Euell, Earle, Jones, Leonhardsen, Gayle (Clarke, 82); Holdsworth (Harford, 82). Substitute not used: Fitzgerald.

Referee: P Alcock (Redhill).

Football news, last night's results, page 27