‘HUGE’ WIN SAVES DAY FOR DOUGIE
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.”
ROAR OF DELIGHT: Nottingham Forest captain Henri Lansbury celebrates at the final whistle and, inset, Nelson Oliveira nets the early winner