Stone falls victim

Nottingham Forest 0 Leicester City 0 Attendance: 24,105
Click to follow
The Independent Online
A Dismal afternoon was made worse for Forest by the news that England's Steve Stone is unlikely to play again this season after suffering a ruptured patella tendon in an accidental tumble at the City Ground yesterday.

The 25-year-old winger, who has had to recover from a broken leg three times in his career, was carried off on a stretcher in the first 10 minutes and taken to hospital immediately. He fell trying to keep the ball in play near the touch-line. There was no contact with another player and Stone's distress was obvious. The incident came as a depressing blow to Forest, who were looking a team on their uppers even without this setback.

Injuries to their leading scorer Kevin Campbell and the Dutch international Bryan Roy meant Frank Clark had to recall his disaffected Italian striker, Andrea Silenzi, and the much-ridiculed Jason Lee to help out Dean Saunders on attacking duties.

Silenzi, who would have returned to Italy during the summer had Clark been able to find a buyer, stayed on for an hour in his first start since February before giving way to Lee.

But Forest, who seemed to find the derby atmosphere quite uninspiring, oddly, rarely won enough possession in midfield to give either man the opportunity to shine, allowing Leicester largely to control the game. Only when Clark abandoned 4-4-2 in favour of the wing-back system in the second period did the contest assume any balance.

Martin O'Neill, returning to the ground where he made his name as a player and where he turned down the chance to manage, described the tactical switch as "the biggest tribute we could be paid by a team that played in Europe last season". But his home-coming could have been celebrated with three points had his players realised earlier that they were the better side.

When they stepped up a gear in search of a late winner, only two fine saves by Mark Crossley, defying the hard-working Emile Heskey and the eager Ian Marshall, who was sent on as a substitute, spared Forest a defeat about which they could not have complained. "It was a good clean sheet for Mark," Clark said afterwards, "but that was about the only good thing to come out of the game. We were second-best, especially during the first half."

By contrast, Kasey Keller, the promoted team's goalkeeper, had hardly a genuine threat to deal with all afternoon.

Comments