Top marks!

Date published: 04 December 2012

Athletic progressed to a third-round FA Cup date with Nottingham Forest thanks to a style of play the late Brian Clough would have approved of.

“If God had wanted us to play football in the sky, he’d have put grass up there,” the managerial legend and renowned lover of the one-liner once said.

While the third round FA Cup date at Forest doesn’t whet the appetite for adventure as much as the Liverpool game at Anfield 12 months ago, it at least evokes memories of better times past — as did the third goal against Doncaster on Saturday.

With quick ball movement, clever running and a wonderful step-over preceding Matt Derbyshire’s second goal of the contest, it left Boundary Park buzzing.

For captain Dean Furman, it was proof the class of 2012 can produce slick, match-winning football.

“It was great that the ball was on the floor,” said Furman, who set up both second-half strikes for Derbyshire.

“In our last two victories, against Hartlepool and Shrewsbury, there wasn’t much of that. We showed that that we can mix it. If we have to play a little bit ugly, more direct, we have shown we can get results that way.

“But I feel whenever we get the ball down and really play, we can come up with impressive football.

“Sometimes when you get it down and pass, pass, pass, it comes to nothing. Against Doncaster it led to a great final product.

“It was great for Derbs as he has worked so hard and been unlucky,” said Furman of Athletic’s number nine.

“You can understand the frustration with some of the offside goals (he’s reaching double figures for goals disallowed) and it was great he got his reward with two that counted. He is key to us, making some unbelievable runs, and I was delighted for him.”

Derbyshire’s striker partner Jose Baxter is a player Clough would certainly have warmed to.

A player of vision and a silky touch rarely found in npower League One, Furman certainly appreciates the chance — however brief it turns out to be — to turn out alongside such a talent.

“It is great to play with Jose, a player who you can play a ball in to at whatever pace, and with however many men around him, knowing he can deal with it,” Furman added.

“He is a great player to have in the team. We hope to keep him as long as possible.”