BY STEVE MITCHELL

On a sultry afternoon at Wembley Stadium, First Division champions Nottingham Forest got the new season off to a perfect start when they demolished FA Cup holders Ipswich Town in the Charity Shield.

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In a contest that had been billed as one of the most eagerly awaited curtain raisers in years, Brian Clough’s irrepressible Forest side took control of the match early on and never looked like relinquishing their grip on proceedings.

Northern Ireland international Martin O’Neill capitalised on an uncharacteristic mistake from Ipswich skipper Mick Mills to coolly slot home the first on 10 minutes before striker Peter Withe doubled Forest’s advantage just seven minutes later with a headed goal over Town ‘keeper Paul Cooper with his team-mates claiming offside. The Tractor Boys were without two international defenders in Kevin Beattie and Allan Hunter and looked disorganised and fearful every time Clough’s men attacked.

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Just 50 seconds after the interval, things got worse for Bobby Robson and company when big central defender Larry Lloyd got on the end of a John Robertson free-kick to end any hopes of an Ipswich revival. More Robertson magic on the left wing led to O’Neill hammering home his second of the match and the provider turned goalscorer for Forest’s fifth when Robertson fired in a delicious shot from 20 yards which left Cooper helpless.

With many observers predicting Forest to plummet this season after last year’s heroics, this result will have gone some way to silencing the doubters who claimed that their league championship and league cup victories last season were just a fluke. Clough’s men now look forward to welcoming newly promoted Tottenham Hotspur, complete with new summer signings Ricardo Villa and Osvaldo Ardiles, to the City Ground next week.

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Robson, on the other hand, needs to pick his side up ahead of a campaign which will see them competing in the European Cup Winners Cup. Ipswich start their league program away at West Bromwich Albion in a repeat of last season’s FA Cup semi-final at Highbury.

Nottingham Forest – Shilton, Anderson, Barrett, McGovern, Lloyd, Burns, O’Neill, Gemmill, Withe, Woodcock, Robertson: Substitute Needham

Ipswich Town – Cooper, Burley, Mills, Talbot, Osman, Wark, Parkin, Gates, Mariner, Whymark, Woods: Substitute Turner

Referee: Peter Reeves

Att: 68,000

FOLLOW THE WHOLE 1978-79 SEASON IN THE ENGLISH FIRST DIVISION WITH STEVE MITCHELL HERE ON THE FOOTBALL PINK. FOLLOW HIM ON TWITTER @barafundler

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