Wonderful Ward downs Trotters
DOUGIE Freedman may only be looking to pick up scraps in the transfer window, but he believes Nottingham Forest already have Michelin-star quality in summer signing Jamie Ward.
Ward, dubbed the free signing of the season by his manager, was the star for Forest against Freedman’s old club Bolton and deservedly rounded off the scoring after coming close on numerous occasions.
The former Derby man had already won a penalty which saw Bolton goalkeeper Ben Amos sent off and Nelson Oliveira open the scoring from the spot, before crossing for Oliver Burke to double the lead.
And boss Freedman was so gushing in his praise for Ward that he even compared him to former Forest legend Nigel Clough, who scored 131 times for the club.
“He’s really infectious around the team. He’s had a few little injuries but we are seeing him come into his own,” said Freedman, who is looking to add one more player to his squad.
“I thought he was fantastic – his movement, his team-play, his linkup play. He reminds me of a certain Nigel Clough. He’s the signing of the free transfers. He gives me no worries when he’s on the football pitch.”
Freedman also believes Forest can continue their 11-match unbeaten run when they travel to Teesside next weekend.
“We showed what we are all about.We were quite ruthless in our play,” he added.“We are quite con- fident and in the game against Middlesbrough everyone will doubt us. But every time we have been doubted this season we have thrived.”
It took just a quarter of an hour for Forest to ensure they would not make it five straight 1-1 league draws thanks to Ward.
The forward won a penalty after nipping in ahead of David Wheater then rounding Amos, who took his legs away and was shown a red card.
Oliveira then struck the penalty low to the right of substitute goalkeeper Paul Rachubka before minutes later Ward sent in a hanging cross which 18-year-old Burke converted for his second goal in his third Championship start.
With Forest unbeaten in ten and Bolton without an away win all season, the rest of the match became a personal battle for Ward to deservedly grab a goal himself.
He forced Rachubka into an excellent save from a stinging volley, then hit the top of the bar from at least 30 yards out.
But his reward came in the last ten minutes as he again took the ball from Osborn and this time his shot took a nick off the diving Robert Holding, hit the underside of the bar, and bounced over the line.
Rock-bottom Bolton could be docked 12 points on Monday from a winding-up petition and have an FA Cup replay with Eastleigh the following day.
And boss Neil Lennon said:“We never gave ourselves a chance against Forest. The players are inconsistent and we cannot put two performance together for some reason.You cannot legislate for individual mistakes.
“I think the decision making is poor by experienced players. We’ve just got to keep going.We’ve got a cup tie away on Tuesday then a huge game against MK Dons.
“The gap is seven points now. It’s not insurmountable but we’ve got to start getting points. As a backroom team it hurts, it really hurts.”