Stone rocks Liverpool

Nottingham Forest 1 Stone 42 Liverpool 0 Attendance: 29,058

IT SEEMED it would never happen. But on a fraught afternoon at the City Ground yesterday the tension finally got to Liverpool as Nottingham Forest inflicted their first defeat in 21 matches on them.

The fact that Newcastle lost at Arsenal did not make the result any less disappointing for the team whose insistent progress over the last four months has enabled them to hang on in the race for the Premiership title. Quite the reverse, in fact.

The challenge for Liverpool is to believe they can still become champions - receding prospect though it is - and for their next Premiership match to be home to Newcastle, on Wednesday week, could hardly be more timely. But as their manager, Roy Evans, said, this was a day when "only Manchester United are laughing".

The goal that won the match, by Steve Stone two minutes before half-time, was all the more a matter of regret for Liverpool through the unwitting contribution made to it by their goalkeeper, David James. But nobody had an unhappier day than Stan Collymore, back at the City Ground for the first time since his contentious departure for Anfield at the end of last season and the victim of some disgraceful abuse by people who once worshipped him.

Both managers condemned it. "It's something that seems to be part of the game and you wish it wasn't," Frank Clark of Nottingham Forest said."It's a bit sad when a guy has done great service at a club and gets that kind of reception," Evans said.

To make matters worse, Collymore was booked after an altercation with Stone - it was that kind of match - and substituted with 20 minutes left. "He wasn't having the best of days," Evans explained.

From Forest's point of view, the victory said much for their resilience in the wake of the 5-1 defeat they suffered at the hands of Bayern Munich in the Uefa Cup in midweek. But that result never meant they were a bad team. With Chris Bart-Williams outstanding in midfield, their attacks, although less frequent than Liverpool's, had more edge, and the backs- to-the-wall experience they have gained in Europe this season stood them in good stead as the pressure mounted in the second half.

For a while, the Collymore sub-plot threatened to overwhelm the main drama. Certainly he had the best chance of a first half in which Liverpool failed to make their greater possession count. Forest's initial thrust had been repelled when, after 31 minutes, Collymore found space on the left side of the Forest area before collecting a pass by Michael Thomas. The ball did not quite sit for him, which might have explained why he mistimed a shot which Crossley was able to get down to comfortably.

Four minutes later Liverpool went as close as they did at any stage of the game through a brilliant piece of skill by Robbie Fowler, whose touch otherwise was slightly off. Gathering a pass from Dominic Matteo in his stride, he chipped Crossley from 30 yards but only succeeded in clipping the top of the bar.

While the midfield distribution of Bart-Williams and Ian Woan was always subtly testing, Jason Lee's finishing was distinctly poor and it needed a trademark blast from Stuart Pearce to turn the match Nottingham Forest's way. A 30-yard shot bounced out of James's arms, Colin Cooper collected it and from his pass across the face of the area, Stone drove the ball into the roof of the net.

Liverpool threw everything at Forest from then on, but while Steve McManaman made some superb runs, there were too many players trying to do their own thing. Rescue operations need teamwork, and, unusually for Liverpool, theirs was lacking.

When they resorted to their old talisman, Ian Rush - the replacement for Collymore - he found himself with the best chance of the second half, but his 76th-minute shot was sliced wide.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Uncapped commission: SThree: Does earning a 6 figu...

Recruitment Genius: SEO Executive

£18000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: New Lift Sales Executive - Lift and Elevators

£35000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A challenging opportunity for a...

Recruitment Genius: Customer Service / Receptionist

£14000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Day In a Page

The saffron censorship that governs India: Why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression

The saffron censorship that governs India

Zareer Masani reveals why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression
Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

Supreme Court rules Dominic Grieve's ministerial veto was invalid
Distressed Zayn Malik fans are cutting themselves - how did fandom get so dark?

How did fandom get so dark?

Grief over Zayn Malik's exit from One Direction seemed amusing until stories of mass 'cutting' emerged. Experts tell Gillian Orr the distress is real, and the girls need support
The galaxy collisions that shed light on unseen parallel Universe

The cosmic collisions that have shed light on unseen parallel Universe

Dark matter study gives scientists insight into mystery of space
The Swedes are adding a gender-neutral pronoun to their dictionary

Swedes introduce gender-neutral pronoun

Why, asks Simon Usborne, must English still struggle awkwardly with the likes of 's/he' and 'they'?
Disney's mega money-making formula: 'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan

Disney's mega money-making formula

'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan
Lobster has gone mainstream with supermarket bargains for £10 or less - but is it any good?

Lobster has gone mainstream

Anthea Gerrie, raised on meaty specimens from the waters around Maine, reveals how to cook up an affordable feast
Easter 2015: 14 best decorations

14 best Easter decorations

Get into the Easter spirit with our pick of accessories, ornaments and tableware
Paul Scholes column: Gareth Bale would be a perfect fit at Manchester United and could turn them into serious title contenders next season

Paul Scholes column

Gareth Bale would be a perfect fit at Manchester United and could turn them into serious title contenders next season
Inside the Kansas greenhouses where Monsanto is 'playing God' with the future of the planet

The future of GM

The greenhouses where Monsanto 'plays God' with the future of the planet
Britain's mild winters could be numbered: why global warming is leaving UK chillier

Britain's mild winters could be numbered

Gulf Stream is slowing down faster than ever, scientists say
Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

Donation brings total raised by Homeless Veterans campaign to at least £1.25m
Oh dear, the most borrowed book at Bank of England library doesn't inspire confidence

The most borrowed book at Bank of England library? Oh dear

The book's fifth edition is used for Edexcel exams
Cowslips vs honeysuckle: The hunt for the UK’s favourite wildflower

Cowslips vs honeysuckle

It's the hunt for UK’s favourite wildflower
Child abuse scandal: Did a botched blackmail attempt by South African intelligence help Cyril Smith escape justice?

Did a botched blackmail attempt help Cyril Smith escape justice?

A fresh twist reveals the Liberal MP was targeted by the notorious South African intelligence agency Boss