Dar­ius stars in the late show

The Football League Paper - - CHAMPIONSHIP - To comment on this match go to http://boards.footy­ By Colin Hen­rys

THE LAST time Not­ting­ham For­est beat Black­burn Rovers at Ewood Park, in May 1999, it was a Pre­mier League fix­ture.

Now, 14 years on, For­est are des­per­ate to re­turn there and Dar­ius Hen­der­son’s stop­page-time win­ner gave Billy Davies’ pro­mo­tion hopes an early boost.

In a game of few chances, nei­ther side looked like break­ing the dead­lock un­til Jamie Mackie beat goal­keeper Jake Kean’s chal­lenge to pro­vide Hen­der­son with an open goal, which he grate­fully fired in to.

Hav­ing beaten Hud­der­s­field Town by the same mar­gin last week, it is first time since 2006 that For­est have started a league cam­paign with back-to-back vic­to­ries.

And af­ter watch­ing his side reg­is­ter their sec­ond con­sec­u­tive clean sheet in the process, Davies be­lieves his side are show­ing the de­fen­sive qual­i­ties needed for a pro­mo­tion push.

“I think we’ve got to be strong de­fen­sively,” he said. “I’ve been very proud at Pre­ston, Derby and For­est that clean sheet records were made and then bro­ken.

“I think it’s some­thing that we’ve got to do. We’ve got to be dif­fi­cult to beat away from home.

“I thought we de­served to win. We al­ways knew at the start of the sea­son ev­ery game would be a very close en­counter and this was.

“They are a dif­fi­cult side to play against but over­all I think we got what we de­served. I think Hen­der­son got what he de­served with his per­for­mance and I’m de­lighted.

“All in all I think it’s a very good three points and a very good vic­tory. It’s a very tough place to play Ewood Park.”

Chances were at a pre­mium all game, but Rovers could have led as early as the sixth minute when Chris Co­hen did just enough at the back post to keep out Alan Judge’s deep free-kick.

At the other end Ra­doslaw Ma­jew­ski’s curl­ing right-foot ef­fort was com­fort­ably par­ried clear by Kean on 20 min­utes, while Jamie Pater­son shot wide just past the halfhour.

Jor­dan Rhodes headed wide from Judge’s cross on 36 min­utes, while the Ir­ish­man was the provider again when Scott Dann’s header was saved.

The hosts were grate­ful to Tommy Spurr’s header off the line from Ma­jew­ski’s pow­er­ful strike on the stroke of half-time how­ever.

Rhodes had two penalty shouts turned down on the hour-mark, first feel­ing he was pulled at a cor­ner be­fore go­ing down un­der Jack Hobbs’ chal­lenge.

At the other end, sub­sti­tute Matt Der­byshire al­most struck against his for­mer club, see­ing his 71stminute shot de­flect wide af­ter Karl Dar­low’s long kick.

Andy Reid, oth­er­wise sub­dued on his 300th ca­reer league start, also went close eight min­utes later as he drove a 20-yard free-kick just wide.

An­other sub­sti­tute, Greg Hal­ford, saw his am­bi­tious over­head kick drift wide on 88 min­utes but For­est’s pres­sure paid off with Hen­der­son’s com­posed late win­ner.

Hav­ing ex­pe­ri­enced the highs of Leon Best’s late equaliser in their open­ing day draw at Derby County, Black­burn boss Gary Bowyer was left de­spon­dent by their dra­matic de­feat this time around.

How­ever, Bowyer be­lieves his side had plenty of pos­i­tives to take from a bat­tling per­for­mance.

“It’s very much galling,” he said. “It wasn’t a clas­sic of a game of football but I thought we showed fight­ing qual­i­ties and we’ve pushed For­est as hard as we pos­si­bly could – in my opin­ion they’re one of the favourites.

“There is a lot for us to take from it and also to build on still. The fans will know we’ve not played as well as what we did last week.

“But what they can’t fault is the ef­fort and fight and the bat­tles.You can’t knock the play­ers for that – they gave ev­ery­thing.

“We’ve got to go game by game and see where that takes us. I think when­ever you’re play­ing a game you’ve got to try and win it and see how far you can go and that’s what we’re try­ing to do.”

PIC­TURES: Ac­tion Im­ages

CHAL­LENGE: Black­burn’s Chris Tay­lor takes on For­est’s Henri Lans­bury

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