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Aug 9, 2014

Pearce victorious in return

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Stuart Pearce made a triumphant return to Nottingham Forest in his first match back at the City Ground as a manager as his side claimed a comfortable 2-0 win over Blackpool.

Jose Riga's patched together squad - which only had enough depth to include four players on the bench - lacked the cohesion to trouble the home side, who saw first half goals from Michail Antonio and Chris Burke secure three simple points and a perfect start for the club legend.

Forest's new manager handed six debuts to players in his first Championship starting line-up - but that was still overshadowed by Blackpool, who only had two players in their side that had been at the club at the end of last season and found themselves robbed of the services of seven of their 20 senior players due to injury and a delay in receiving work permits.

But it was the home side's new additions who looked more impressive. Britt Assombalonga, a B£5million capture from Peterborough and B£1.5million winger Antonio, formerly of Sheffield Wednesday, were drafted straight in for their debuts after signing on Wednesday - and immediately added the precious commodity of pace.

Antonio flicked a header wide following good work from another summer addition, Burke, while Assombalonga was denied by an alert stop from Joe Lewis, with the keeper quick off his line to take the ball at the striker's feet.

Blackpool did provide one scare, with Nathan Delfouneso powering a header wide after John Lundstram's free kick had laid on a golden opportunity.

But Pearce was soon celebrating the first goal of his latest managerial tenure at the City Ground, as Andy Reid powered a vicious shot against the post. With Joe Lewis regaining his feet, Antonio reacted with impressive alertness to collect the rebound and force the ball home.

That goal came in the 25th minute and, five minutes later, it was 2-0, in even more impressive fashion, as Burke cut in from the right side to find the room to hit a left foot strike that bent beyond Lewis, across the face of goal and into the top corner, from 25 yards.

Lewis denied Antonio another goal with a smart low save, plunging to his left, after the winger had turned sharply in the box. While, immediately after the break, Assombalonga just failed to connect at full stretch at the near post with an outstanding delivery from Burke.

Andrea Orlandi, the former Brighton midfielder, almost pulled a goal back with a driven shot that missed the target by only a foot, with Karl Darlow at full stretch.

But the visitors, in truth, had rarely troubled Darlow - who was making his first appearance since returning to the club on loan in the Forest goal.

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