Nottingham Forest striker Dexter Blackstock has been outlined as the One to Watch ahead of tomorrow’s clash.
Name: Dexter Blackstock
Date of Birth: 20-05-1986 (Oxford)
Previous Clubs: Oxford United, Southampton, Plymouth Argyle (L), Derby County (L), Queens Park Rangers, Nottingham Forest (L)
Career Appearances (Goals): 187 (50)
The striker came through the ranks of home-town club Oxford United where his ability was highly regarded among coaches at the Kassam Stadium.
It wasn’t long before a Premier League club came calling for his services and it was Southampton that enticed the young striker to pen a deal, with compensation believed to be in the region of £275,000.
He made his debut in the top flight in the Saints 1-0 defeat away at Everton. Blackstock was a surprise starter in the fixture, playing the full 90 minutes.
Dexter shot to fame in his first season for his League Cup exploits firstly scoring a hatrick in a 3-2 home win over Colchester United before getting a consolation goal in a thumping 5-2 defeat against Watford.
His first Premier League goal came at St Mary`s against local rivals Portsmouth, where he drew the game level shortly before the 20-minute mark, and Southampton went on to win the clash.
He was sent out on loan to Plymouth Argyle for regular first team football and goals in victories against Sheffield United and Crewe along with a brace against Nottingham Forest helped endear himself to supporters.
Following Southampton`s relegation and increased financial difficulty it had been anticipated that Blackstock would play a more important role in the first team set-up. It didn`t prove to be so as he was loaned out to Derby County.
His first goal for the Rams was a consolation in a 2-1 loss at home to Queens Park Rangers. Gareth Ainsworth had handed QPR the lead before Emerson Thome’s antics saw Paul Furlong receive his marching orders. Relentless home pressure ensued before Kevin Gallen doubled the lead on the counter attack. Blackstock replaced Stern John and bagged a confidence boosting goal six minutes before time.
Dexter then followed this up with a brace against Ipswich Town in a 3-3 draw at Pride Park. He returned to Southampton for the remainder of the 2005-06 season following the appointment of George Burley as boss, and he went on to score another three goals for the Saints.
He joined Queens Park Rangers a week into the new season for a fee reported to be in the region of £500,000 – an unprecedented amount of money considering Rangers’ financial plight. He was brought in along with defender Zesh Rehman from Fulham in Gary Waddock`s new look QPR side.
He got his first goal against former club Plymouth Argyle, before scoring infront of another new boss John Gregory in the 2-0 win over Hull City. More goals came as he struck on his return to Southampton, before a brace against Sheffield Wednesday and the winner against Luton Town – the latter goal evoked a foul-mouthed sexist tirade by Hatters boss Mike Newell.
Rangers were in a relegation dog-fight but hauled themselves out of the mire courtesy of Dexter`s goals. The goal of the season against Preston North End, a brace against Luton Town in a thrilling fixture at Loftus Road and finally the game that kept the R`s in the Championship – a goal in a 1-0 win over Cardiff City secured Rangers safety.
Disaster struck for Dexter when he lost his strike partner and friend Ray Jones in a car crash just hours before a fixture against Burnley. It`s hard to tell how this affected him psychologically but a big dip in form saw him score a mere two goals in 29 appearances. Towards the end of the season under Luigi De Canio he scored four in five games promising better form for the coming season.
Another new boss came in the shape of Iain Dowie, and Dexter started the season in fine form. Goals against Swindon Town in the cup were added to by Doncaster, Bristol City before scoring a brace against former club Southampton live on Sky.
Dexter showed what a confidence player he can be by scoring only one in 12, then bagging three goals in three games. His form drastically petered out following the appointment of Paulo Sousa, who didn`t opt to use Blackstock as one of his main strikers. No goals in nine games saw him loaned out to Nottingham Forest.
The move itself was shrouded in mystery with Sousa claiming he knew nothing of the deal to take the striker to the relegation strugglers, and was ultimately given his marching orders for divulging this and more information.
Two goals for Forest helped them stay in the Championship and he, like stopper Lee Camp expressed a desire to stay at the City Ground. His pre-season game against Aldershot told the tale of a player who was unsettled and wanted to leave – failing to acknowledge the supporters that continued to cheer his every touch.
He was sold to Nottingham Forest for what is reported to be a seven-figure sum and penned a four-year deal with the Reds with a view to rejuvenating his career.
Dexter already has eight goals to his name in a Forest shirt and looks at home at the City ground alongside Camp. In games he has scored, Forest have gone on to win all but one as they look to press their position near the summit of the table.
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