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Yeading Win Increases Confidence.

Yeading Win Increases Confidence.

On a weekend when Sven Goran Eriksson surfaced to defiantly defend England's under-achievements in the World Cup, there were no such worries for Colin Calderwood.

While the former England manager was left to, rather bullishly, claim that his side had been every bit as good as the eventual finalists Italy and France, life at Nottingham Forest is rather different.

Instead of explaining his side's short-comings and inability to fulfil their potential, Calderwood's most immediate task is to keep his team's confidence in check.

Like England, Forest are a team that must cope with vast levels of expectation. But, unlike Steven Gerrard and co, seven wins on the bounce are starting to suggest that they are capable of living up to their reputation.

In the same way that many people believed England had won the World Cup before a ball had been kicked, Forest were regarded by most as the champions-elect in League One.

For Calderwood, however, the priority at the moment is not making excuses, but keeping a lid on the levels of self-belief at the City Ground.

Yeading may have made the journey to the banks of the River Trent with a faint ray of hope, fuelled by Forest's Cup performances last season and by their defeat at the hands of Accrington Stanley in the Carling Cup.

Unfortunately for the plucky Conference South side, confidence may have been soaring on Saturday afternoon - but it was within the Forest ranks.

While England's talisman, Wayne Rooney, may have failed to produce his best in Germany, Forest's play-maker, Kris Commons, continues to produce the type of performances that will only increase the urgency for contract talks with the 23-year-old.

As Calderwood said afterwards, this was the type of victory for which Forest will receive little credit, given the vast chasm between the two sides, not just in terms of their league standings, but also the resources available to them.

Yeading's following of 248 may have seemed modest but, to put things into perspective, it was still a 30% improvement on their average home attendance.

But the quality of the opposition was not a factor when it came to the first and also the decisive goal of the afternoon, as Commons picked up a John Curtis throw-in wide on the left and turned neatly, driving towards the box and striking a 25-yard shot with his supposedly-weaker right foot that flew high before dipping, in spectacular fashion, over teenage keeper Mark Cousins - playing just his second game on loan from Colchester United - and into the back of the net.

It was a moment that was more about the individual ability of Commons than any shortcomings in the opposition.

But it also delivered a crushing blow to Yeading, whose hard work, resolve and tight man-marking had ensured a frustrating opening 19 minutes for Forest.

And, by the time the half-time whistle blew, their hopes were all but extinguished, as the former Stoke man ran riot.

His second was more of a team effort, as a neat passing move culminated in an incisive pass from Sammy Clingan, to pick out Commons inside the box, wide on the right. This time he shifted the ball back onto his favoured left, which he used to good effect, bending a pin-point finish beyond Cousins and high inside the far post.

While he may have gone home with the match ball, Commons should offer a special thank-you to striker Agogo, who played the most significant role in Forest's third, which came in first-half injury time.

His neat turn and blistering burst into the box was capped with a powerful low drive that Cousins could only parry, spilling the ball at the feet of a grateful Commons, who was left to rifle it into an exposed net from close range.

Agogo got his reward after the break when substitute Nathan Tyson - who, along with Jack Lester, was introduced at the interval - was hacked down by Nathan Bowden-Haase, at the expense of a penalty.

This was the first and only battle Commons lost all afternoon, as Agogo won the argument over who would take the kick and duly slotted an emphatic finish low to the keeper's right.

The striker has been in outstanding form in recent weeks, playing an integral role in Forest's climb to the top of the table, but without getting the goals his performances had deserved.

So it was perhaps fitting that he was to add the fifth, as Forest produced their best move of the afternoon, with Lester picking out Nicky Southall on the right, to fire a teasing ball across the face of goal. Tyson, as he tries to regain his sharpness as he returns from his knee injury, just failed to make contact on the edge of the six-yard box, but Agogo was well placed to stroke the ball home at the far post.

This was a far cry from the performance this time last season, when Conference side Weymouth forced Forest into a humiliating replay on the South Coast.

But then, while the foundations of the squad may remain, this was a different starting line-up to the one fielded that day, with only Ian Breckin, Wes Morgan, Gary Holt and Nicky Southall, having kicked-off the match against Weymouth.

And that was only one of many occasions when Gary Megson found himself in a similar position to Eriksson, in attempting to explain away his side's short-comings. This time, an upset was never on the cards, with Calderwood having installed a clear sense of professionalism in his side.

This was only emphasised as, rather than lavish too much praise on his side, the Forest manager instead hammered home an important message - that, while they may now have won seven matches on the bounce, they have won neither promotion nor passage into the FA Cup final just yet.

But, while his desire to maintain a sensible sense of perspective is understandable, on this evidence, come the end of the season, Calderwood is unlikely to be left scrambling for excuses.


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Date:Monday November 13 2006
Time: 4:21PM

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