Jay Rod heads it over Forest's Merry Men
Report of match Nottingham Forest 0 Burnley 2 played 31st January 2012
Reporter Tony Scholes
Jay Rodriguez might well have missed a penalty last night but his two headed goals gave Burnley the most comfortable of wins against a desperately poor Nottingham Forest side to lift us back within two points of the play off places.
Without ever coming close to hitting the heights of the performance at Middlesbrough, and quite frankly we didn't need to, this was probably as easy a win as we've had all season with the home side offering precious little to concern us throughout the entire ninety minutes.
It was a game I was concerned about. I've watched Burnley too long I suppose and over the years we've always been a soft touch for a team that can't buy a win or can't even score a goal.
I think the last time we faced a team suffering a goal drought was Sheffield Wednesday on New Year's Eve 2005. They hadn't scored in their previous seven games and had won just two points from their last nine games. They pitched up at the Turf, went in front on five minutes with a goal from Chris Eagles with another future Claret Graham Coughlan also scoring as they beat us 2-1.
So, Forest away last night. They can't buy a goal let alone a win; they haven't scored a solitary goal at the City Ground since mid-November and I saw this huge banana skin in front of us. I needn't have worried. Once Jay scored the opener in just the third minute there was never really any doubt who would win the points and only Ipswich on the Turf have probably tested us less all season.
In front of the biggest away following of the season, just over 2,000, Eddie Howe made one change to the side that had started the stale 0-0 draw against Derby County ten days earlier. Ross Wallace had been forced off in that game with a back injury and was named as one of the substitutes. That enabled Josh McQuoid to win his first start with the remainder of the sixteen unchanged.
Against teams struggling, teams with no confidence, it's important not to give them anything early in the game that might lift their confidence. We certainly didn't give them that; what we did give them was the worst start possible for them by taking that early lead.
It owed so much to Kieran Trippier. He was given the ball on the right touchline by Dean Marney and then teased Forest's Paul Anderson with a who range of step overs before hitting a sensational cross into the box. Jay Rod was there, running off his defender, to power home a header into the roof of the net.
What a start, but it did seem to flatten things for a while and there was a spell when most of the play was towards our goal. Forest did look a threat down their right and did have a couple of opportunities. We scrambled a couple of half chances away and Ishmael Miller failed to find target with an effort.
It was hardly sustained pressure, indeed hardly pressure at all, but for a while we had to be alert defensively with Forest's best chance coming when Guy Moussi headed hopelessly wide.
Keith Treacy was caught by a Forest player as he ended one of their attacks in our box. That forced him off with less than half an hour gone with Wallace coming on. By then, I think, the best Forest could muster was behind them.
Without ever really threatening, we were the better side for the remainder of the first half and there is no doubt we fully deserved our half time lead.
There might have been a large number of Burnley fans there but not everyone could get there. I received a text at half time asking me what the score was from a friend who was elsewhere in the world, claiming it was 4:45 a.m. Quite what he was doing up and about at that time I don't know.
I told him were a goal up and worth the lead and I was also able to tell him about the second half around an hour later.
That second half saw us much better than the first. Any fears that Forest might come out and have a go at us were quickly extinguished as we enjoyed our best spell of the game straight from the restart.
Wallace, by now a real threat, was just off target with a free kick and Charlie Austin went too wide when played in and couldn't find a man with his low ball across the box.
It just needed another goal and it should have come when referee Michael Naylor, who for most of the night didn't bother making any decisions, pointed to the spot as Garath McCleary brought down Mee.
It was right on the edge of the box, but Naylor was adamant. What happened next will probably find its way onto Question of Sport one day and will almost certainly feature on some football DVD collections.
Jay Rod stepped up but as he prepared hit his right foot shot he slipped and the ball flew wide. Wide did I say? It was certainly a lot closer to the corner flag than the goals when it finally crossed the line.
Despite being behind, the Forest fans poked fun at him, but it was Jay Rod who had the last laugh. Not long past the hour Wallace and Trippier linked up down the right. It was the full back again who got in the cross. Jay met it with the perfect looped header into the top corner.
Burnley were 2-0 up and there was no way back now for this Forest outfit. They huffed and puffed but never really threatened us. The closest we came to another goal in the game was when Marvin Bartley, on as a substitute for McQuoid, did ever so well to burst through but then put his shot wide.
We were cruising to a win and it was just almost a matter of waiting for the final whistle. When it came it signalled our eighth away win of the season. Incredibly, since the appointment of Howe we've now won 13 of 27 away league games. That's a staggering statistic.
There were some excellent individual performances. Trippier again, getting assists on both goals. Marney had another outstanding game in midfield; Wallace was excellent after replacing Treacy and then there was Jay Rod.
Two more goals for him, another outstanding performance and with the window closed he's still a Claret . He's still one of our own - and who gives a damn about the missed penalty?
The teams were;
Nottingham Forest: Lee Camp, Chris Gunter, Jamaal Lascelles, Joel Lynch, Brendan Moloney (Andy Reid 81), Garath McCleary, Guy Moussi, Adlene Guedioura, Lewis McGugan (Dexter Blackstock 59), Ishmael Miller (Marcus Tudgay 59). Subs not used: Paul Smith, Marlon Harewood.
Burnley: Lee Grant, Kieran Trippier, Michael Duff, David Edgar, Ben Mee, Josh McQuoid (Marvin Bartley 73), Dean Marney, Chris McCann, Keith Treacy (Ross Wallace 28), Charlie Austin (Zavon Hines 90+3), Jay Rodriguez. Subs not used: Brian Jensen, Brian Easton.
Referee: Michael Naylor (South Yorkshire).
Attendance: 23,147 (including 2,004 Clarets).