Lions learn how to win again

The Football League Paper - - CHAMPIONSHIP - By Nick Brad­shaw To com­ment on this match go to http://boards.footy­mad.net/

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

PIC­TURES: Me­dia Im­age Ltd

goal LIONS ROAR: Scott Malone’s

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