Nottingham Forest 0 Birmingham City 0: Earnshaw pays the penalty

03 January 2010 12:00

Robert Earnshaw's career has been a tale of near misses but the penalty howler which cost Forest victory was not even close.

The well-travelled Forest striker curled the ball over the bar in the 62nd minute after a stuttering run-up in the game's decisive moment following Gregory Vignal's trip on Paul Anderson.

Earnshaw missed a kick in similar fashion against West Bromwich Albion this season, and manager Billy Davies said: 'I told him his run-up is too casual. I will probably draw straws on Monday for a replacement but Rob has been great for this club and you have to take the good with the bad.'

On the rise: Birmingham City's Kevin Phillips (front) and Nottingham Forest's Luke Chambers tussle for the ball

Birmingham goalkeeper Joe Hart takes a large share of credit forthis entertaining stalemate, saving from Earnshaw with his fingertipsshortly after the penalty when the striker did everything right. It wasone of two top-class saves and on this form his claim to an Englandplace will be irresistible.

Little wonder Manchester City have refused to turn his loan into apermanent deal. Hart's counterpart, Lee Camp, was also excellent. Butthese sides seem to have forgotten what it is like to lose.

Jump to it: Birmingham City's Keith Fahey (left) and Nottingham Forest's James Perch heading for a replay

Birmingham's unbeaten run stands at 12 games, while Forest can boast a sequence of 17, including six successive clean sheets.

Davies claimed his team should have been 'out of sight' byhalf-time. Injuries to Stuart Parnaby and Lee Carsley before the breakas well as four team changes upset Birmingham, who were lucky they didnot become a third-round casualty for the third year running.

Their success this season has been built on a close-knit team andhard work, and it persuaded nearly 4,500 fans to make the trip toNottingham. Manager Alex McLeish said: 'Our momentum was disturbed bythe changes and injuries, and it shows the fragility of the squad. 'Wewill try to bring in two or three players.'

Schalke striker Kevin Kuranyi, whom McLeish is considering, mighthave made a difference. But he would have been starved of service forlong periods when Birmingham were on the back foot.

Dexter Blackstock, Earnshaw and Chris Cohen had good chances in the opening 20 minutes. But Hart was solid. CameronJerome went close when Camp could only parry his fierce shot fromdistance. Luke Chambers headed on to the bar for Forest, while KevinPhillips, making his first start for Birmingham since September, hit apost.

Camp also denied Phillips, with Gary McSheffrey firing the loose ball over an open goal.

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Source: Daily_Mail

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