‘HUGE’ WIN SAVES DAY FOR DOUGIE

The Football League Paper - - CHAMPIONSHIP - By Jamie Robert­son

NOT­TING­HAM For­est boss Dougie Freed­man shrugged off sug­ges­tions Fri­day night’s vic­tory over their bit­ter ri­vals had saved his job.

The na­tives at the City Ground have been get­ting rest­less, with For­est en­trenched in the bot­tom half of the Cham­pi­onship ta­ble and with­out a win in eight head­ing into the game.

But a fifth-minute strike from Nel­son Oliveira was enough to earn For­est the east Mid­lands brag­ging rights and re­lief at the fi­nal whis­tle was pal­pa­ble, with some sup­port­ers in­vad­ing the pitch and one be­com­ing in­volved in an al­ter­ca­tion with Derby’s Bradley John­son.

Spec­u­la­tion has been rife this week that former Le­ices­ter City man­ager Nigel Pear­son is be­ing lined up as Freed­man’s re­place­ment, but the Scot in­sisted this win was not about him.

“I was al­ways more con­cerned about the foot­ball club, what their next move would be,” said Freed­man. “In dif­fi­cult times in the past, they’ve al­ways wanted to change their man­ager.

“I think the chair­man has been great this week with me.We talk about foot­ball most days – we dis­agree, we agree – so his sup­port has been fan­tas­tic.

“It was never re­ally for me, but for the foot­ball club, that they can con­tinue work­ing with the plan that we had.

“It means more than three points. It was a huge mo­ment for us.

“We have been in a dif­fi­cult time over the last three or four games, but I thought we de­served that win.

“We have been play­ing fan­tas­ti­cally well, we’re a good side, but we just haven’t been hav­ing the breaks.

“But ev­ery sin­gle one of the play­ers played to their best and that’s what gave us the vic­tory.”

Derby have been ex­em­plary on the road this sea­son, but seemed to be play­ing catch-up from the off and fell be­hind when Oliv­e­ria, on loan from Ben­fica, saw his fizzing strike from the edge of the box rip­ple the net, via a de­flec­tion off de­fender Richard Keogh.

Though Derby were en­joy­ing their share of pos­ses­sion, the chances were fall­ing to For­est and former Ram Jamie Ward was next to try his luck.

Af­ter ex­chang­ing passes with Oliveira, he un­leashed a curl­ing ef­fort which former England goal­keeper Scott Car­son did su­perbly to palm away.

At the other end, Jeff Hen­drick shaved the cross­bar with a long-range at­tempt and Johnny Rus­sell was de­nied by Dorus de Vries.

The sec­ond half was a far less open af­fair as the pres­sure cranked up. Sub­sti­tute Dar­ren Bent sent a header nar­rowly wide and For­est were made to hold firm late on with a se­ries of cor­ners.

Derby man­ager Paul Cle­ment felt his team had shot them­selves in the foot.

“It was frus­trat­ing,” he said. “I thought we lost the game be­cause of the way we played, not be­cause of the way the op­po­si­tion played.

“There were no sur­prises. I thought there would be a lot of in­ten­sity in the game, par­tic­u­larly at the start.

“We spoke about that, we spoke about the im­por­tance of keep­ing bal­ance be­cause they’re a threat on the counter-at­tack. All of their op­por­tu­ni­ties came on counter-at­tacks.

“What I am most dis­ap­pointed about is our of­fen­sive dis­play. It was laboured, it was too com­plex – mainly be­cause of in­di­vid­u­als tak­ing too many touches on the ball, run­ning with the ball, get­ting dis­pos­sessed and set­ting them off on the counter.

“I am very dis­ap­pointed with the re­sult against our big ri­vals, dis­ap­pointed that our fans are go­ing to go home with the de­feat, but most dis­ap­pointed with the way we at­tacked.”

PIC­TURES: Ac­tion Images

ROAR OF DE­LIGHT: Not­ting­ham For­est cap­tain Henri Lans­bury cel­e­brates at the fi­nal whis­tle and, in­set, Nel­son Oliveira nets the early win­ner

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