Nottingham Forest 1 Sheffield United 0: Earnshaw's early strike denies United

THE 150th league goal of Robert Earnshaw's career was enough to get Billy Davies's promotion hopefuls back on track as Nottingham Forest overcame successive defeats with a deserved win over 10-man Sheffield United.

Darius Henderson's contentious dismissal 40 seconds into the second half compounded the misery for Kevin Blackwell's ill-disciplined side, who have seen their play-off ambitions weaken with just one win in six.

The game could not have got off to a better start as the outspoken boss was rewarded for a switch in selection early on as the recalled Paul Anderson and Earnshaw combined to open the scoring after just three minutes.

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On-loan midfielder Radoslaw Majewski whipped in a vicious corner from the left side, which Anderson reached first to flick on for Earnshaw to poke home the loose ball from inside the six-yard box for his 11th goal of the season.

If Blades manager Blackwell was hoping for a change in fortunes for his side after the break, he was to be sorely disappointed as Henderson rendered the comeback mission impossible as he appeared to petulantly elbow Forest's central defender Kevin Wilson off the ball less than a minute into the action.

United threatened to self-combust as Mark Yeates and Lee Williamson were then both booked by referee Nigel Miller for reckless challenges.

Blades came close to equalising on a couple of occasions but Yeates twice missed the target.

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Nottingham Forest: Camp, Gunter, Morgan, Wilson, Perch, Anderson (Tyson 73), McKenna, Majewski (Moussi 88), Cohen, Blackstock, Earnshaw (McGoldrick 79). Unused substitutes: Smith, Chambers, Adebola, Garner.

Sheffield United: Bunn, Geary (Quinn 39), Nosworthy, Bartley, Kallio, Ward, Montgomery, Williamson (Evans 78), Yeates, Henderson, Camara (Cresswell 66). Unused substitutes: Bennett, Stewart, Little, Fortune.

Referee: N Miller (Durham).