21/04/2003 Burnley
2 - 0

Nearly there now – but for a large portion of this match it looked as if Forest would have to settle for a 0-0 draw.

Then Michael Dawson became the unlikely hero in the 75th minute as he fired in a 30-yard thunderbolt that proved too hot to handle for Nik Michopoulos in the Burnley goal.

And in the 90th minute David Johnson chalked up his 26th goal of the season. The 2-0 victory almost guarantees the Reds a play-off spot.

Forest now need at least one point from their remaining two games to fend off Ipswich’s challenge thanks to their superior goal difference. However, if they can bag all three against Millwall at the City Ground on Saturday it would be a magnificent last home game of the season for Paul Hart’s youngsters.

Burnley arrived at the City Ground with nothing to play for, safe from relegation and in no danger of a play-off place, so it does them credit that they came here and took Forest on.

Both sides started brightly and Forest had the first shot on target when Eoin Jess was put through to blast the ball straight at Michopoulos on 14 seconds.

Forest were in control of the opening encounters, but in the eighth minute Gareth Williams (his first start since he received a foot injury against Leicester earlier this month) rose to challenge for a high ball. He landed badly and was treated for several minutes before he could walk off the pitch. Eugen Bopp replaced him, and as Williams walked to the tunnel it was obvious from the way his arm was being supported that he had damaged either his arm or shoulder.

The break in play and the loss of the captain seemed to upset Forest and it took them a little while to find their rhythm again. Burnley took advantage and on 12 minutes, they had a great chance as Arthur Gnohere crossed for Richard Chaplow, who turned and beat Dawson before firing wide of the target.

Forest did start to settle and as they found their way back into the game and on 20 minutes David Johnson worked his way to the edge of the Burnley area and blasted a shot which was well saved.

Then Burnley had the best chance of all to break the deadlock as ex-Red, Ian Moore, challenged Darren Ward for a high ball in the area. Moore won it, but somehow, with his second header, he managed to hit the bar of an empty goal.

Andy Reid put a nice ball over the top on 35 minutes and Marlon Harewood broke away with it, racing into the Burnley area, he mis-kicked it, sending it square across the goal.

Four minutes of injury time seemed a little short for the amount of treatment Williams had received and it failed to provide the breakthrough for either side.

During the break Matthieu Louis-Jean had complained of a calf problem and as both teams lined up for the second half we watched as Des Walker prepared to come on as a substitute – marking his 600th league appearance. It was a long wait, as the officials seemed reluctant to return to the field of play.

However, when it did finally start Forest looked more composed and went straight on the attack though the first real chance didn’t arrive until the 50th minute when Michopoulos failed to hold on to Jim Brennan’s cross. The ball fell to Bopp, but his shot was blocked. John Thompson won the ball back and gave it to Reid but his shot went over.

Burnley looked rattled by Forest, who were growing more confident by the minute.

On 53 minutes, Harewood fed the ball to Johnson in the penalty area, but somehow Gnohere managed to drag the ball away before Johnson could pull the trigger.

Less than a minute later Riccy Scimeca and Reid combined for a short corner and Scimeca’s shot skimmed by the far post. And, just after the hour mark Bopp sent in a 25-yard effort which just rose over the bar.

Despite their dominance of the game, it looked like this was not going to be Forest’s day and the edgy crowd were now sensing a 0-0 draw was on the cards.

Then out of nowhere, in the 75 minute, as Mark McGregor cleared the ball, it fell to Dawson some 35 yards out. He took a quick touch and then blasted a rocket of a shot that flew through the still crowded penalty area and into the bottom corner of the net. I’m not sure who was more surprised, Dawson or the crowd but it was well worth seeing.

Dawson’s celebrations said it all though as he ran to the ‘A’ block he looked like he’d just won the lottery.

A minute after the restart Jack Lester had the chance to finish Burnley off as he found himself through on goal. With only the ‘keeper to beat he tried to angle his shot round him, but could only fire wide of the target.

With three minutes left Bopp had a great shot on goal but Michopoulos managed to get a hand to it and tip it over for a corner.

The second goal had been threatening for a while now, and in the 90th minute it finally arrived as Jack Lester headed the ball over the top for David Johnson to run onto. As Johnson ran into the box he remained calm and fired the ball low and wide of the keeper into the bottom corner.

For some minutes the crowd had been chanting ‘2-1 to the Rotherham’ as spectators had been picking up the latest scores on their radios and when the final whistle went, the PA announcer confirmed that Rotherham had indeed beaten Ipswich 2-1 – the crowd went wild again.

I said it earlier and I’ll say it again, let’s have the same against Millwall on Saturday for the perfect last home game of the season - then it’s party time in Rotherham…
Forest Man-of-the-Match:


[Click on Player Name to view Player Profile and Statistics]

No. Player Scored Cards
LOUIS-JEAN  Substituted    
15  THOMPSON       
17  DAWSON    1  
20  REID       
WILLIAMS  Substituted    
JOHNSON    1  
22  JESS  Substituted    
11  HAREWOOD       
16  BOPP  Substitute (On for 8 )    
WALKER  Substitute (On for 2 )    
10  LESTER  Substitute (On for 22 )    


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