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Clough accused of ‘cowardly’ attack by Davies

Beaten Forest manager claims Rams counterpart assaulted him in ‘poisonous’ derby, writes Jon Culley

THE outspoken Nottingham Forest manager Billy Davies may have to explain himself to the Football Association after accusing counterpart Nigel Clough of a “cowardly” assault during the stoppage-time melee that followed a bad-tempered match on Saturday.

Davies, back at Pride Park for the first time since he was sacked as Derby’s manager just over two years ago, alleged that Clough struck him from behind with a raised knee as players and officials scuffled on the touchline after a dispute over a throw-in.

Both clubs were fined and warned about their future conduct after similar scenes marred Forest’s 3-2 win against their traditionally bitter rivals at the City Ground in August and could face more sanctions now. The FA has already asked Derby for a full DVD recording of what happened.

Derby played with greater desire on Saturday and their first home league win since November ended Forest’s run of 19 matches without defeat in the Championship, allowing West Bromwich Albion to close the gap between second and third place to two points, with a game in hand.

But, according to Davies, it was Clough – 11 years a Forest player – who lost his cool, even though a Rob Hulse header 12 minutes from the end avenged Derby’s August defeat. The pair left the field without the customary handshake, prompting the Forest chief to go public with his sensational claim.

“He came at me from behind (during the melee) and kneed me in the back of the leg,” Davies said. “He tried to tell me it was an accident but my assistant manager (David Kelly) knows what happened and I know it was no accident.

“I said to him (Clough) that I wouldn’t have minded him doing it to my face but to do it behind my back was a bit cowardly and that’s why I never shook his hand at the end. He was out of order.”

Clough was asked to give his version of events but declined. “Thank you for inviting me to comment but I have no comment to make,” he said through a club spokesman. There has been no indication from Forest that Davies intends to make any formal complaint.

Davies went on to suggest that Clough, whom many saw as a candidate for the Forest job before he succeeded Paul Jewell at Pride Park, had been caught up in what he described as “poison” between the clubs over the last two seasons.

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“I have great respect for Nigel and I got on very well with him before he became Derby manager. But something has changed and it may be the pettiness of Forest against Derby. Sometimes your head goes in certain games and maybe his head went.

“I’ve been involved in Old Firm games and they are the worst in the world but they’ve never had the same level of pettiness as these games. There is a lot of poison in and around the whole thing.”

Forest were fined £25,000, of which £10,000 was suspended, and Derby £20, 000 (£15,000 suspended) after the teams met in August, when Nathan Tyson, who was left out of Forest’s squad on Saturday, celebrated by waving a corner flag in front of visiting fans. At the City Ground the previous February, Derby captain Robbie Savage stayed on the pitch, repeatedly whirling a Rams scarf above his head, after leading his side to a 3-2 FA Cup win. The FA’s review of Saturday's match, in which five Derby players and three from Forest were booked, could spell more trouble for one or both clubs.

Derby County (4-4-1-1): Bywater; Hunt, Barker, Buxton, McEveley; Green, Savage, Johnson (Teale, 74), Pearson; Commons (Anderson, 87); Hulse (Porter, 89). Substitutes not used: Deeney (gk), Addison, Moxey, Campbell.

Nottingham Forest (4-4-2): Camp; Gunter, Morgan, Wilson, Perch; Cohen, McKenna, Majewski (McGugan, 81), Anderson (Moussi, 76); Earnshaw (Adebola, 71), Blackstock. Substitutes not used: Smith (gk), Chambers, McCleary, McGoldrick.

Referee: N Swarbrick (Lancashire).

Booked: Derby Hulse, Pearson, Commons, Hunt, McEveley. Nottingham Forest: Majewski, Morgan, Gunter.

Man of the match: Barker

Attendance: 32,674.

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