26/12/1999 Blackburn
Blackburn 2 - 1 Forest

Close but no cigar. Another good performance by the Reds today went unrewarded after a rather dubious penalty decision denied them at least a point. Who says that vociferous Home crowds do not influence a referees thoughts? From the moment Scimeca escaped with only a booking after bringing down Ashley Ward, the crowd bayed for Forest blood at every opportunity, and it was only a matter of time before the referee was going to cave in. And cave in he did. Just 10 minutes after the Scimeca incident, the very impressive Damien Duff broke away down the left, matched for pace by Hjelde. Both players were using their arms to good effect, but it was Duff who eventually went down. Almost to a man the Ewood Park crowd claimed a penalty and Mr Dean duly obliged. To rub more salt into the wound, ex Shagger Carsley stepped up to plant the ball past Beasant for what turned out to be the winner.
For the first 45 minutes, Forest were the better side, and Stern John should have put them ahead after only 5 minutes. Harewood, who had replaced Freedman, controlled a good pass from Gray and laid the ball into the path of John, but this time he could only shoot wide. Still, it makes a change from hitting the woodwork! It was slightly against the run of play when Rovers went ahead, and once again the goal stemmed from the fact that the Forest defence backed off, allowing Frandsen to run until he was within striking range, whereupon he hit the ball past Beasant and into the bottom left hand corner.
But this is a different Forest to the side of only a few games ago and they battled back well and were level within 15 minutes. Brennan's cross was well headed back across goal by Harewood and Johnson met it on the volley from 25 yards and smashed it past Kelly - a blistering goal. From then until the break it was Forest asking all the questions, with Harewood in particular looking very impressive.
Blackburn started the second half the better, but Forest appeared to have survived the onslaught until that penalty decision and even then were unlucky not to equalize for a second time when Johnson almost got his second after 71 minutes, a great save by Kelly keeping out his low curling shot. Although as previously stated ,the penalty looked a harsh decision, I am only surprised it has taken this long for Hjelde to be severely punished for constantly using his arms. The only place I have seen anyone use the Strangle Hold more than Jon is in WWF.
This was probably our best away performance so far this season, and rather than be down hearted, Forest must take this kind of performance into Tuesday's game against Birmingham.
Star: Andy Johnson


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