Stone secures precious lead

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The Independent Online
Auxerre 0 Nottingham Forest 1

Steve Stone's third goal in three games and a display of defensive grit ensured Nottingham Forest put one foot firmly into the third round of the Uefa Cup.

Stone, England's newest recruit in Oslo last week, took advantage of a slip on the greasy surface by his Nigerian marker, Taribo West, to burst on to a pass by Alf Inge Haland - a surprise selection in place of Bryan Roy - after 23 minutes to lob the stranded goalkeeper, Fabien Cool. Forest rode their luck and rewarded their determination to protect a precious first-leg lead for the return match at the City ground in two weeks' time.

It was winger Ian Woan who became an unlikely defensive hero, clearing off the line on no fewer than three occasions, although furious Auxerre claimed his first rescue act, from Algerian midfielder Moussa Saib's fierce cross-shot, came after the ball had crossed the line.

The Italian referee, Pierluigi Collina, was ideally placed to rule that Woan's clearance was legitimate and he turned his back on strong protests by the French team, although he stopped to show the yellow card to Christophe Cocard when he continued the argument.

Woan, booked for a foul on Lilian Laslandes and lucky to stay on the pitch after bringing down Sabri Lamouchi just seconds later, spearheaded Forest's resistance in a second half that was played almost exclusively in and around their penalty area.

In goal, Mark Crossley twice kept out Saib with splendid saves, but in the end it was Woan who did most to protect the lead. Twice within seconds during the last five minutes defender Franck Silvestre banged in goal- bound efforts, after moving up front following the exit of sweeper Laurent Blanc.

But Woan first kicked away and then headed behind for a corner at full stretch to start a party among the 1,300 Forest supporters. However, Forest's night was tarnished by reports of trouble in a bar, where drunken fans caused damage and clashed with police.

Auxerre: Cool, Goma, Silvestre, Blanc (Rabarivony, 57), West, Lamouchi, Saib, Martins, Cocard, Laslandes (Guivarc'h, 72), Diomede (Tasfaout, 71).

Nottingham Forest: Crossley, Lyttle, Pearce, Cooper, Chettle, Haland, Bart-Williams, Gemmill, Stone, Lee (Silenzi, 71), Woan.

Referee: P Collina (Italy).

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