Lions learn how to win again
STUART PEARCE’S chances of being a Premier League manager next season are hanging by a thread after Forest’s barren run continued against Millwall.
Pearce takes charge of the Reds in the summer but defeat leaves his new charges five points off a play-off place and sliding out of the Championship promotion picture at a rate of knots.
Scott Malone’s deflected effort and Lee Martin’s stunning strike put the Lions in command while a second-half Jamie Paterson header couldn’t prevent Forest’s winless run stretching to ten games in the league.
But caretaker boss Gary Brazil, who will hand over the reins to Pearce on July 1, is refusing to give up and believes Forest can still force their way into the top six.
“Everyone is looking forward to Stuart coming in during the summer but I don't want to write off this season just yet,” said Brazil. “We’ve got 18 points to play for and I’d been looking to take around 14-15 from those to give us a chance. It was a strange one because that first-half performance was something I never saw coming at all.
“We didn’t get near them and didn't seem to want to do the tough stuff.We lacked energy.
“We need to have a go at these next six games now and see if we can set a spring board for the next season – whatever league we are in.”
Victory for the Lions though – only their third since the turn of the year – gives them renewed hope of remaining in the Championship. And boss Ian Holloway believes they may need to remain unbeaten in their last six games to preserve their place in the league.
“I’d forgotten a bit what it felt like to win a game to be honest,” said Holloway. “We got a little bit nervous in the second half but I thought we were terrific first half and scored two good goals. I changed the team completely on Friday because the team I didn’t pick won 6-0 in a practice game against the team I did pick.
“I wasn’t very happy so that’s why there were seven changes to the team here. I needed the confidence that the team which won 6-0 had. I took a risk, the lads handled it brilliantly and I’m delighted for them.”
Pearce’s appointment had undoubtedly given the City Ground crowd a lift but that feelgood factor had all but evaporated inside 20 minutes.
Forest were struggling to make any headway against Millwall’s stubborn defence and were punished when Malone’s hopeful centre took a wicked deflection off Gonzalo Jara and crept inside the near post.
It was all Millwall after that and, after Malone had fired another effort over the bar, they doubled their lead. Martin cut inside from the left before curling a stunning strike into the bottom corner past the outstretched arm of Darlow.
And it could almost have been three early in the second half but substitute Kelvin Wilson did enough to put off Martyn Woolford and he fired wide.
Forest did eventually claw their way back into the game when Paterson glanced home Harding’s fierce cross but the barnstorming comeback never materialised.
Substitute Henri Lansbury fired a free-kick over and Steve Morison saw a shot pushed away.
DOUBLE DELIGHT: Lee Martin celebrates after scoring Millwall’s second goal
goal LIONS ROAR: Scott Malone’s