Mon. May 23rd, 2022

Nottingham Forest’s push for a place in the Championship play-offs was boosted by a dominant second-half display illuminated by goals from Lewis Grabban and Brennan Johnson but the only way Derby County will be going down is with a fight.

Tom Lawrence’s late penalty gave Wayne Rooney’s team a whiff of yet another comeback before Ravel Morrison’s stoppage-time dismissal for a lunge on Philip Zinckernagel sparked one melee and the final whistle another, for which the former Manchester United player saw fit to come back on to the field to join in.

Forest’s third successive win extended the longest unbeaten league run in this fixture in history to nine games and while they aspire to playing their next east Midlands derby against Leicester in the Premier League next season, Derby would at the moment probably settle for knowing they will survive liquidation in order to play Burton in League One.

Derby’s hopes of staying in business beyond 1 February were boosted on the eve of the game by news of a firm £28m bid from the US-based investment group Carlisle Capital but while Rooney did not have any fresh information on that, he could applaud his team’s heart. They had gained 13 points from their previous five league games to climb off the foot of the Championship before this defeat.

“There was a lot of fight and character from the players,” Rooney said. “I don’t think it was a red card but the game management from the referee was not good.

“I didn’t know Ravel was back on the pitch [at the end]. It’s an emotional game, players get frustrated. I’m fully with the players and support them. It shows they are fighting and they care.”

Derby had to sell academy graduate Dylan Williams to Chelsea on Friday but Rooney, who had already seen Phil Jagielka, Graeme Shinnie and David Marshall leave while the administrators seek new owners, has been assured he does not have to sell anyone else in this transfer window. He revealed he is continuing to line up potential signings, should a takeover be agreed soon enough, and that one, intriguingly, was now at Forest.

“The next few days are crucial,” he said. “The administrators have said they are confident someone will come in this week. I take care of the football and they take care of the business. Hopefully there will be some good news next week.

Ravel Morrison of Derby is shown a red card in added time at the end of the game. Photograph: Tony Marshall/Getty Images

“Of course we have players lined up: we have to keep doing our job whether that’s reality or not. We have seen players who would like to play for Derby and there is one here today at Forest. I have to keep doing my work. But the existence of the club is far more important.”

Lawrence, who following last week’s match-winning performance against Sheffield United gave Derby late hope here after he was scythed down by Steve Cook in the 87th minute, should have scored early on but slotted wide after a neat one-two with Colin Kazim-Richards.

Steve Cooper changed the game by moving Ryan Yates out of a five-man defence into midfield, and after a cautious first half, Forest took charge.

“They didn’t press us as much as we thought so that’s why we had to change it tactically,” the Forest manager said. “With the [personnel] we field, we can play two formations, basically around Yates’s role, and we looked in complete control from then on. We were worthy winners.”

Three minutes into the second half, the game caught fire. Scott McKenna headed James Garner’s free-kick back into the middle for Keinan Davis to tee up Cook. His blocked shot fell for Grabban to score for the third successive game.

Red flares sparked in the Bridgford End and police had to intervene as rival fans sought to get closer. “Derby are going down with a fiver in the bank,” gloated the Forest fans.

Garner helped set up the decisive goal as his nonchalant pass ushered Zinckernagel down the left and from the substitute’s low cross, Johnson slid home his seventh goal of the season. These clubs may be heading in opposite directions, but on this showing there is plenty of life left in both of them.












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Wizadclick | WAC MAG 2022