Forest 5-1 Leicester
05/12/09 - 1 p.m.
ROBERT Earnshaw`s devastating hat-trick saw shell-shocked Leicester leave the City Ground with their tails between their legs, as the Foxes crashed to a dismal 5-1 defeat earlier today.
It was City`s biggest defeat in just under six years, since the 5-0 drubbing handed out by Aston Villa at the Walkers Stadium in January 2004, and ensured that their woeful record at Forest in the league continued.
The win sees Billy Davies` men extend their current unbeaten run in the Championship to an impressive 11 matches, also giving the Reds the three points required to leap-frog their East Midlands rivals into third in the process.
Manager Nigel Pearson made one change from the side which conceded victory in the last minute at Scunthorpe last weekend, as captain Matt Oakley returned to the fold at the expense of Paul Gallagher in midfield.
It was the home side who came out of the traps quickest, demonstrating just why they had forced their way into a playoff position after a disappointing start to the season.
Nigel Pearson`s Foxes were struggling to retain possession, and soon paid the price when Forest took the lead in the 12th minute. Dexter Blackstock`s ball through the middle split the Foxes backline, allowing the explosive Earnshaw to finish comfortably past Weale.
Blackstock himself came close soon after, forcing a save out of the Leicester goalkeeper for a corner, before Weale was at it again to deny Paul Anderson`s burst into the penalty area.
The home side`s continual dominance soon paid dividends once again in the 32nd minute, as Earnshaw grabbed his second to double the advantage for Forest.
Radoslow Majewski`s corner from the right was only partially cleared by City`s floundering defence, allowing the Welshman to capitalise and stab the ball home from close range.
Leicester`s dreadful performance prompted changes from Pearson midway through the first half, as Steve Howard and Lloyd Dyer replaced Yann Kermorgant and Matty Fryatt respectively.
The long, direct football on display was uncharacteristic of a Foxes side who have used their creative weapons well so far this campaign.
With half-time approaching, City remained void of ideas to break down Forest`s well-organised side. Leicester`s 4,500 strong faithful could only look on in despair and pray for the referee`s half-time whistle.
The Foxes came out for the second period with Nigel Pearson`s words ringing in their ears. The opening was bright for the visitors, as they registered their first corner and serious opportunity on goal within the first few minutes.
Bruno Berner, however, had other ideas. His lacklustre back-pass criminally found its way to Earnshaw, who made light work of Wayne Brown before dispatching the ball past Weale for his hat-trick and Forest`s third.
Hopes of an unlikely comeback had been quashed for good, and it wasn`t long before City`s luck took a further turn for the worst. Striker Martyn Waghorn was brought down in what looked quite clearly to be the penalty area, but referee Mick Russell withdrew his initial penalty decision after discussions with his assistant, instead awarding a free-kick on the edge of the area.
With Leicester furious, Forest continued to gleefully rub salt into the wounds, grabbing a fourth immediately after the controversy. Leicestershire-born Paul Anderson raced down the left wing, before cutting inside and finishing beautifully for his third goal of the season.
With 64 minutes on the clock, Leicester finally did grab a consolation. Richie Wellens` effort on goal was handled inside the Forest area, leaving it to the capable feet of Martyn Waghorn to take care of the resulting penalty.
Forest`s three points were never in doubt after their first goal, undoubtedly looking good for their emphatic win. Billy Davies continues to build a side harbouring genuine promotion hopes at the City Ground, with eternal optimists among the Forest support believing that they can dislodge Newcastle and West Brom at the top.
It was far from surprising when substitute Dele Adebola poked the ball home on the rebound with 76 minutes on the clock for Forest`s fifth, after Garath McCleary`s initial effort was saved.
The misery was complete for Leicester fans, as the horror show that had unfolded before their eyes ended with no real excitement in the closing 15 minutes.
On this showing Billy Davies may well have a promotion-worthy side under his stewardship. Forest were relentless in dismantling a notoriously resilient Leicester backline, an impressive achievement for any Championship side this season.
For Leicester it`s back to the drawing board, as Nigel Pearson and his players attempt to move on from today`s defeat, focusing on the tricky Bristol City tie that awaits them at the Walkers Stadium on Tuesday.