REDS ROAR TO VITAL WIN
£8m man puts poor Royals to the sword
AMAN who cost £1m won Nottingham Forest the European Cup 38 years ago. Yesterday a man who cost upwards of £8m played a huge part in keeping them from third-tier football. That’s inflation for you.
Such have been the declining fortunes of Forest since they were champions of England and the best in Europe they needed Britt Assombalonga’s goals to help keep them from trips to Fleetwood, Rochdale and Walsall next season.
The story goes that Brian Clough bought Trevor Francis from Birmingham City for £999,999 to avoid him carrying the burden of being the first £1m footballer.
When Francis’s diving header against Malmo from John Roberston’s cross won the first of Forest’s two European Cups, Clough gave Birmingham manager Jim Smith the extra pound and a smile.
Peterborough got £5m for selling Assombalonga, rising up to £8m – a massive amount for a Championship club, the most Forest have ever paid,but with immense dividends if it keeps them safe after another season of turmoil.
Mark Warburton, their third manager this season, was smiling. Forest are three points from safety and on this exciting form you would think they will sew it up away to QPR , who are in end-of-season freefall, next Saturday.
“It was fun when it was 3-0,” said Warburton. “Not so much fun at 3-2.”
Reading at last showed some fight and pulled back to within one goal with Yann Kermorgant’s double. “We’ve got it still in our hands,” said Reading boss Jaap Stam. “There’s a difficult game for us against Wigan. They are not going to hand it to us, we are going to have to fight for it.
“With Forest, if you give them time they have good players and can make it difficult. They’re fighting for their lives but we needed to do better.”
This wasn’t simple, not even when Forest were three-up in 54 minutes with Assombalonga’s couple and another from the impressive Mustapha Carayol.
Reading’s away form is poor – just ask Norwich, who spanked them 7-1 – with their last six defeats all on the road. So Forest, who have a good record against the Championship’s big teams, took them on.
There were six Forest corners in the first 20 minutes as they were seriously testing Reading, finding out just how weak they were. When Ben Brereton sent Assombalonga clear in the 31st minute they found out, Assombalonga powering away and beating keeper Ali Al Habsi with his drive.
Two minutes into the second half it was 2-0, Assombalonga with a header this time from Ben Osborn’s cross, giving him 12 goals in 19 starts this season.
When Carayol hit his first goal of the season in the 54th minute another Norwich lashing looked on the cards.
“The quality, desire and intensity in the first half was very good,” said Warburton.
“The good and bad for us was the third goal. Great to see it go in but we sat back then and invited a very good team to come to us.”
Kermorgant got his first with a backpost header from Jordan Obita’s cross and then his 74thminute left-foot volley had the City Ground trembling.
“Our desire to secure Championship status had to be stronger than Reading’s desire to get promotion. It was,” said Warburton.
PLENTY TO SHOUT ABOUT: Mustapha Carayol enjoys scoring for Nottingham Forest in their 3-2 win against Reading
MUST BE GOOD: Britt Assombalonga celebrates his second