Shearer fells Forest

Nottingham Forest 1 Woan 41 Blackburn Rovers 5 Shearer 27, Mc Kinlay 31, Wilcox 45, 68, Fenton 83 Attendance: 25,273
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The Independent Online
BLACKBURN ROVERS may yet salvage something from a disappointing reign as champions, after keeping alive an outside chance of reaching Europe with only their third league win away from home this season at Nottingham Forest yesterday.

Defeat for Forest, who have conceded 12 goals against Blackburn this season, was a big setback to their own European ambitions, which had been revived with Easter victories over Tottenham and Leeds. But beating Leeds is not the achievement it once was, of course, and does not compare with overcoming Newcastle, as Blackburn did so dramatically on Monday, to earn rare brownie points with Manchester United fans.

With Bryan Roy out of action, Frank Clark, the Forest manager, had to rely again on Kevin Campbell and Jason Lee, both of whom missed chances to extend modest goal tallies in the opening 15 minutes.

Lee headed tamely at Tim Flowers after Al Haaland's cross from the left reached him at the far post, then Campbell, put through promisingly by Des Lyttle, offered the sometime England goalkeeper no more of a test with a rather feeble chip.

Shearer wasted his first chance to test Mark Crossley in the Forest goal when Newell's dispossession of Colin Cooper created an opening for his colleague. Flowers had more to do when Ian Woan, from a narrow angle on the right, drove a left-footed free-kick towards the near post.

This was a very different Forest from the side subjected to a 7-0 mauling at Ewood Park in November - until two Blackburn goals in four minutes conjured visions of another rude shock for the Nottingham side.

First Shearer, who scored three of the seven in the last encounter, gave his marker the slip with a perfectly timed run on to Newell's pass and beat Crossley with an equally impressive finish. Then Billy McKinlay, taking aim from 25 yards, landed the ball in the left-hand corner.

Forest recovered some ground four minutes from half-time when Woan shot past Flowers from an unlikely looking angle on the left, but set themselves back again in first-half stoppage time when Jason Wilcox appeared unmarked in the six-yard box to head Blackburn's third goal from Shearer's cross.

After the interval Flowers had to be alert to deal with one wickedly in-swinging corner by Woan, who had been encouraged by scoring his third goal in as many games. Woan then set up Stone to shoot, but Flowers was untroubled to save.

Clark, showing increasing frustration on the touchline, threw caution to the winds with 22 minutes left, replacing Lyttle, his right-back, with a forward, Paul McGregor. But the move backfired almost immediately when Graham Fenton, on for Newell, crossed from the right, Shearer sold Haaland a dummy and Wilcox, in Lyttle's space, easily scored Blackburn's fourth.

The defeat turned into a humiliation for Forest when Fenton, chasing Shearer's flick, rounded Crossley to add a fifth Blackburn goal with seven minutes remaining.