Forest end season on high
Forest give home fans final day hooray with 3-1 victory
By Elliot Ball. Last Updated: 03/05/09 4:03pm
Davies: Final day win
Nottingham Forest came from behind to end their season on a high as they beat Southampton 3-1 on Sunday.
Bradley Wright-Phillips gave relegated Saints the lead but goals from Joe Garner, Luke Chambers and Robert Earnshaw sealed victory at the City Ground.
Saints were sharper and more determined than their counterparts in the opening 45 minutes and had already hit a post through Jason Euell when Bradley Wright-Phillips slotted home his sixth league goal of the campaign after 16 minutes.
The strike brought some cheer to 2,018 Saints fans who were in buoyant mood despite the crisis club starting next season in League One on minus 10 points and still looking for a buyer to save them from extinction.
But Forest responded after the break and Garner levelled matters midway through the second half with a sublime lob over the stranded Kelvin Davis.
And somewhat undeservedly, Chambers headed the hosts in front three minutes from time before Earnshaw added an even later third.
The nature of the bottom-of-the-table clash was a far cry from both clubs' glory years - with Forest celebrating the 30-year anniversary of their first European Cup triumph and Saints facing their first season in England's third tier since 1960.
Forest boss Billy Davies made four changes to the side that drew 1-1 at Blackpool last weekend - a result which, combined with Norwich's defeat to Reading, secured the east midlands club's Championship status as Lewis McGugan, Guy Moussi, Garath McCleary and Earnshaw all came in.
Mark Wotte, meanwhile, made just one switch to his starting XI, Morgan Schneiderlin taking the place of Paul Wotton.
And it was the visitors who almost broke the deadlock with just over a minute gone as Euell glanced Lloyd James' cross on to a post before David McGoldrick fired the rebound inches wide when he should have done better.
But Southampton did not have to wait long for the breakthrough.
Adam Lallana found Wright-Phillips with a perfect through-ball that split the Forest rearguard and the winger neatly slotted the ball under Paul Smith.
Forest were playing like a team already assured of their Championship status but the lively Earnshaw was a constant threat, despite Saints goalkeeper Davis failing to make a save inside the opening half-hour.
Smith was called upon to make a solid stop to deny James at the other end, while Chris Gunter flashed an effort across the face of goal just minutes before the break.
The opening 10 minutes of the second half did little to raise excitement among the 29,008 crowd.
Earnshaw volleyed Moussi's delicate chip over the crossbar from 10 yards with 58 minutes gone, attempting to lob Davis, while substitute Garner headed off-target from close range shortly after.
Neither goalkeeper had been called upon to make any real save of note with 25 second-half minutes gone but Forest levelled matters out of nowhere in the 73rd minute.
Sub Paul Anderson found Garner in space on the edge of the penalty area and he in turn found the net with a sublime lob that left Davis with no chance.
And with the game heading for a draw, Chambers rose to head home a late corner.
McGoldrick almost levelled at the other end immediately after, while Joel Lynch almost put through his own net.
But Earnshaw added a third after Davis parried Arron Davies' effort to extend Forest's end-of-season unbeaten run to an impressive six games - leaving Southampton with just one win over the Reds in their last 12 meetings.
Sky Bet Championship
Sun 3rd May
Watford3 - 1Derby
Plymouth1 - 2Barnsley
C Palace0 - 0Sheff Utd
N Forest3 - 1Southampton
Swansea0 - 1Blackpool
Reading1 - 2Birmingham
Preston2 - 1QPR
Sheff Wed1 - 0Cardiff
Wolves1 - 0Doncaster
Ipswich2 - 1Coventry
Charlton4 - 2Norwich
Burnley4 - 0Bristol C
Sky Bet Championship
|1||Queens Park Rangers||20||42|
|8||Brighton and Hove Albion||20||31|