Won­der­ful Ward downs Trot­ters

The Football League Paper - - CHAMPIONSHIP - By Joel Lamy

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.”

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