Please help find a missing mum for Christmas

It’s been nearly a year since I posted on here, but I do think this is worth breaking radio silence for.  Whilst the campaign to find missing mum Elaine Harrison has received great coverage, perhaps leveraging whatever reach this platform still has might just reach some new people.

Elaine was last seen at around 15:30 on 9th December in the Castle Marina area of Nottingham where she has a houseboat.  She was wearing a grey fleece jacket with white fur trim, black trousers and white trainers. She’s large of build and short of height, with collar length grey hair and silver-framed glasses.

Please continue to look out for Elaine and if you do have any information that might help reunite her with her loving family in time for Christmas then please get in touch with the police on the non-emergency line 101, you can also keep tabs on the campaign by liking the Facebook page, and keeping an eye on the hashtag #FindElaine on Twitter.

Whilst football is completely irrelevant at a time like this it would be lovely to read that a fellow Forest fan has been reunited with his mum.

Thank you, Sean..

O’Driscoll sacked on Boxing Day having overseen a 4-2 win over Leeds.

A bout of illness has consigned me to bed and left me idly not bothering with Watford reports, Leeds previews or updates – but the news of Sean O’Driscoll being sacked was enough to rouse me from my pit of misery.  After an enjoyable afternoon of watching Forest beat Leeds this has brought the whole day right down.

When the news broke we’d be taken over by foreign owners I admit I was highly dubious – you don’t have to look too far to see mismanaged clubs in modern football, sacking managers on a whim, reneging on agreed strategies and alienating supporters into the bargain.  I must admit, I was quickly sold the idea that the Al Hasawi family weren’t going to be like that.

This would indicate I was wrong to be so ready to trust in our new owners – because let’s review where we are.  We’ve got a squad hastily assembled without a decent pre-season, we have acknowledged gaps in our squad, we are eighth in the table and just a point away from the play-offs.  For me, that puts Sean O’Driscoll comfortably in the ‘decent’ bracket, if not outstanding just yet.

However, I bought into the idea of building for a sustainable future – to allow a manager, coaching team and squad to develop over time.  That was the strategy we were sold when the new owners arrived, and no amount of flashy replay boards or electronic advert boards will make up for this change in direction that makes us look more like a Leicester or a QPR at their worst.

Not that the gaffer was perfect of course, many seem to think that supporting the idea of him building a team was a suggestion he was somehow perfect – a paragon of footballing brilliance.  Let’s face it, if there’s something Forest have struggled to produce consistently so far this season it’s footballing brilliance.

It will be intriguing to see the direction the Reds take now with the next managerial appointment.  One can only assume there is a candidate in mind, someone to make the necessary adjustments to the squad in January.  This episode has left me very disheartened and feeling let down by the empty promises of the new owners.

If we are to become a foreign-owned club whose owners tinker without consideration or expertise then I’m afraid that I will struggle to maintain my interest what is increasingly becoming an isolating sport for those of us who fell in love with the beautiful game before the dawn of the Sky Sports era of greed, impatience and anything but a sense of sporting fairness.

I’m going to use this opportunity to take a natural break from blogging about Forest.  It’s a decision I’ve been mulling for a while anyway, as pressures of life and other factors make finding the time for this difficult to achieve anyway.  I may yet return to active chronicling duties, but if we go the direction I fear under the stewardship of the Al Hasawis then I might well find myself drifting away from Forest all together.

To Sean – thank you for what I think you were trying to achieve at Forest, it’s fair to say you were some way off the mark as to where I had hoped we’d get to – but then, I’m sure you, much like me, expected you to be given more than a few months to achieve your targets.  All the best in the next step of your career – I bet you wish you’d stuck with Crawley.

To everyone else – thanks for your comments over the years, it’s been appreciated and whilst the last few years of supporting Forest have had more highs and lows, I’ve struggled to feel more aggrieved and pissed off than I do right now – so I’m putting the blog on ice until the dust settles.

Watford vs Forest preview..

I know I’m not big on issuing predictions, but this one’s really difficult.  The Reds have defied predictability over the last few games, whilst Watford seem even more tricky to second-guess even beyond us as they operate under a bizarre experiment with Zola as manager.

It seems highly likely to me that Simon Cox will be given the opportunity to add a bit more of a different type of energy to our attack – apparently Sam Hutchinson and Jermaine Jenas have returned to training too, but I can’t see either being risked for the trip to Vicarage Road – although the prospect of Hutch in particular returning is a tempting prospect.

However, with Ayala and Halford coming through the trip to Brighton unscathed it does give Sean options to choose from which had been limited in some areas of late.  Watford are likely to be missing the aptly-named striker Fernando Forestieri, which might just be a good omen!  The Hornets have struggled whilst he’s been out.

They are also likely to be without John Eustace in midfield and Nyron Nosworthy in defence, both have returned to training this week but are unlikely to have attained sufficient match fitness to feature.  Lloyd Doyley remains on the sidelines with a calf injury.

If you look at the science then it swings the balace in Watford’s favour – although comparing 20 home/away games is covering a long time in modern football, and both Forest and Watford have undergone rather significant changes since that sequence of games began.  That said, until a 2-1 defeat in their last home game, Watford were enjoying an unbeaten run at home.

Forest on the road have been – despite their best impression of the Keystone Cops in defence on occasions – in reasonable fettle on the road as well though over the last few games, if we gloss over the debacle at Portman Road of course.  So whilst I love stats and pretty graphs, I am hoping that the numbers in this case are doing Forest somewhat of a disservice.

In player news, James Coppinger is set to go back to Doncaster which is probably a good move for all concerned.  In a team crying out for wingers, for a winger – with a strong history with the manager – to have struggled to make an impact is an indictment that things ain’t really working out.  Thanks to him for his efforts and all the best to him as he resumes duties with Rovers.

We appear to have agreed a deal with Derry City to sign young winger Stephen McLaughlin though – presumably in January – after impressing Sean O’Driscoll in training.  A winger!  Imagine that!  Then of course we have the new big screens to look forward to for the Leeds game on Boxing day which, well, if it keeps the kids happy then I suppose that’s something…!

Reds hold out for a point in Brighton..

Brighton and Hove Albion – 0
Nottingham Forest – 0

Apologies for this being so ludicrously late – it’s a busy time of year and a few unanticipated occurrences have happened.  Nothing serious, just time-consuming.  So anyway.. remember playing down at Brighton last weekend?  Okay, must admit I’m struggling – the home fans might do better, particularly as it was the biggest crowd the AMEX has ever seen.

Sean made a few changes, Ayala returned from injury to line up alongside Collins in defence.  There was a midfield shuffle with Moussi, Cohen and Guedioura introduced at the expense of McGugan, Gillett and Lansbury.

Camp
Hutton    Ayala    Collins    Harding
Cohen    Moussi   Guedioura    Reid
Blackstock    Sharp

The first half was basically all about Brighton dominating, and struggling to make the best of the considerable number of opportunities they had.  Early doors Calderon headed over unmarked from a corner, shortly after he clipped the post from the edge of the area after good work from Craig Mackail-Smith.

Former Reds loanee Will Hoskins looked set to convert a cross but under pressure from Collins put his effort wide.  A rare foray forward for the Reds culminated in an Andy Reid shot which troubled little more than any seagulls flying overhead.  Then again, gulls probably head inland at winter – so even they probably weren’t too worried.

It was a short-lived break for us though – Brighton were back on the assault, Bridge put an effort wide after Buckley had forged a chance for him (Buckley was making life incredibly difficult for poor Harding), whilst Mackail-Smith again was provider for Will Hoskins who really should’ve done better from close range but volleyed over.

Forest did have occasionally long range speculative efforts – but nothing particularly exciting, whilst the hosts continued to spurn much better close-range opportunities.  Hoskins again missed the target this time with his head, nodding a decent cross from Crofts over.  Forest’s best opportunity of the half came when Sharp teed up Reidy who lacked composure and put it over.

Mackail-Smith attacked our goal, bursting into the box and putting his shot past Camp, but just wide of the post.  Minutes later the Reds keeper finally had his first proper save to make – Calderon shot and he tipped it over.

Despite barely being at the races in the first half we could’ve gone in to the break leading – a throughball from Reid down the left found Cohen who put in a low cross for Sharp who flicked the ball up and over the ‘keeper but agonisingly it rebounded off the bar.  It would’ve been a massive injustice – but then, remember that other game we played in the AMEX where the boot was on the other foot?

At half time Sean removed Harding who’d had a torrid half against Buckley and replaced him with Halford – who certainly made his presence felt on the fixture from the off.  He got forward and put a low cross in to Dex who put it wide with El-Abd puttin ghim under pressure – then got booked for letting Buckley know he wasn’t going to get quite such a simple second half.

From the free-kick the ball fell to Hoskins who again fluffed his lines from close range, volleying wide.  Halford was perhaps lucky to remain on the pitch considering he’d already been booked, he took the winger out again then clashed off the ball with him – it was a bit of handbags, really – but it certainly got the home crowd going a bit – it also seemed to quieten down Buckley.

Guedioura was replaced by Lansbury after around an hour, as Forest seemed to be not only containing the home side better but were starting to offer more themselves.  Lansbury latched on to a knock-down from Dex who’d been crossed to by Hutton, but his low drive didn’t give much challenge to Kuzczak in the Brighton goal.

As the rain turned from persistent to torrential the home side took off the wasteful Hoskins to replace him with Lua Lua.  Forest were continuing to look better, one of those infuriating short corners almost came off with Reid tricking his way into the box to cross, but when it came to Ayala he wasn’t able to get it on target.

Dex headed wide from a Halford cross as Forest had a few turns at being wasteful, in the meantime Lua Lua escaped the attentions of Hutton and got an effort on target which Camp made a decent save on to get it wide.  Better was to come when Buckley finally got the better of Halford, who’d slipped, putting the winger one-on-one with Camp who made a one-handed save.

Ayala made the final last-gap challenge to deny what looked like yet another gilt-edged chance.  Our final change was to take off Reid for Gillett, but there was little else of note – and ultimately we should feel pleased to have got a point.  Of course, we could’ve got more – but that would be greedy!

The other exciting news of note is that Fawaz is now the chairman rather than Omar – there’s lots of speculation about this elsewhere, I know nothing other than it has always seemed to be Fawaz who was driving the takeover so I welcome his further involvement.  Whether the decision was linked to the reported financial trickies is unclear – although that just sounded like an administrative cock up to me anyway.

Oh, and a couple of big screens and irritating electronic scoreboards are being installed at the City Ground ready to be unveiled on Boxing Day.  I must admit, neither of these excite me particularly – but if they enable the club to generate a bit more revenue then who am I to complain?  Also if the screens distract the people who start moaning after 3 seconds of boredom then they could be a canny addition…

Get well soon Brian Roberts..

This is only a quick post to wish a speedy recovery to Forest fan Brian Roberts who suffered a stroke this week.

A Red for 55 years who had trials with the club as a youngster is battling this horrible illness. Sending best wishes and positive vibes your way, Brian, and I’m sure fellow Reds fans will be doing the same.

Thoughts to his nearest and dearest too who are rallying to help him recover.

Brighton and Hove Albion vs. Forest preview..

I was looking at my schedule over the coming days and with Christmas threatening to break into full swing I probably don’t have time for my customary Thursday preview, or the increasingly customary last-minute Friday preview… so I’d better go for the ludicrously early Wednesday evening preview I’m thinking!

What could be excellent news is that Simon Cox is champing at the bit to return from injury well ahead of schedule.  Given the struggle we’ve had in creating lots of chances, his industrious work-rate would be much welcomed assuming it isn’t a step too far in his recovery curve.

Just having him as an option from the bench would be a huge bonus that I for one wasn’t expecting!  Having been granted a week off in the sun to recuperate he’s returned to the club in much better shape than expected.  A huge boost.

Brighton defy any kind of pattern – they started the season with a defeat to Swindon in the Cup, then followed it up losing to Hull, drew with Cardiff anf then won five on the bounce.  Then failed to win in six,  leading into an unbeaten November – with Peterborough, Huddersfield and Bristol City defeated, Leeds, Wolves and Bolton drawn with.

Right, things are picking up then yes?  Well no, they lost 3-0 to fierce rivals Palace at the start of December, and then another trip to London saw them only muster a draw with Charlton.  Earlier in the season they’ve clumped wins or lack-of-wins together so maybe that bodes well for us – or then again, maybe it doesn’t!

With the likes of Majewski and potentially Cox on the mend from their injuries we could see some pack reshuffling from O’Driscoll.  From a Brighton perspective Adam El-Abd – who is apparently a Forest fan – came through a comeback from injury against Charlton and should be fit enough to line up against us.

I’d like to feel optimistic about this one but have a nagging doubt – although we saw a much improved level of performance against Burnley in the second half, we still look susceptible to being nullified but a hard-working and industrious side which is what we’ve seen from the Seagulls in the past – it makes me sense an afternoon of frustration from a Forest perspective.

Hopefully we will find a way to impose ourselves and forge opportunities to net some goals whilst keeping it tight at the back, but – as ever – it ain’t going to be easy!

Back to winning ways!

Reidy – architect of both Forest goals

Nottingham Forest – 2
Burnley – 0

I must admit that at half-time I was quietly resigning myself to a draw – whilst we saw a much improved performance from Forest, they were struggling to convert some nice passages of play into meaningful chances before the break, but some subtle changes in approach helped us to unlock Burnley and snag the win.

Much to the delight of the callers to Matchtalk, I’m sure, Sean opted for two up front – with Dexter returning to the starting eleven along with a surprise start for Lewis McGugan – and the excellent news that Majewski and Ayala were fit enough to take places on the bench, resulting in Forest lining up something like this:

Camp
Hutton    Ward    Collins    Harding
Lansbury    Gillett    McGugan    Reid
Blackstock    Sharp

In reality the midfield was inevitably narrow, as Gillett sat deep whilst Reid and McGugan roamed – with the full-backs clearly having the brief to get forward when the opportunity arose.  The tricky with this was when Burnley attacked our fullbacks, as ever, were exposed – Harding was usually on his own, whilst even when Lansbury was back to assist Hutton the Clarets would often have three attacking down there.

The first half I’d say we rode our luck a bit.  Dyche’s side had great movement in and around our box which pulled our defenders all over the place and created some real opportunities.  Their first chance came through a mistake, though – Ward totally mis-timed a header and the ball fell to Charlie Austin.

The 21-goal striker is probably the last person you’d want to end up clean through with the ball dropping to him – luckily for us he rushed his shot from the edge of the area putting it off target when there looked to be ample time to have controlled and got a bit closer to make sure of getting the ball past Lee Camp.   A definite let off early doors.

Paterson was the next to spurn an opportunity, putting his effort just wide after a cross from the right from Trippier.  Whilst Forest were, at times, passing the ball neatly we didn’t fashion much to bother Lee Grant.  A low freekick from McGugan was close but just wide having picked up a deflection, whilst Dex couldn’t get a header from Hutton’s cross on target.

The strikers were isolated from midfield somewhat, so it was often them heading out wide to get the ball – Sharp did this and was picked out by Reid for a pass, he crossed well towards Blackstock but he wasn’t able to get any real power on his header which was straight at the ‘keeper.

Burnley looked dangerous on the break – and a counter-attack culminating in a cracking throughball from Dean Marney put Chris McCann clear of the Reds offside trap but mercifully for us he was unable to convert.  Paterson was given aeons of time to pick out a shot that Camp saved as the half came to a close, he spilled the shot though but Harding was able to get it clear.

Whilst there was no obvious change post-half-time, the fullbacks were a little more disciplined and the ‘wingers’ were a little more likely to be found in wide positions, and whilst initially we weren’t exactly creating a plethora of chances we did at least appear to have nullified the very real threat that Burnley had been posing in the first half.

A Reid cross from the left found Blackstock, his header fell for McGugan in the area who elected for a volley comfortably over when perhaps there was time to control it and do something more productive.  I don’t suppose we’d be complaining if he’d leathered one into the top corner though, so maybe we shouldn’t be too critical when ambitious efforts don’t quite come off.

With the hour mark coming up Lansbury was withdrawn for Cohen, and he proved a lucky omen as moments later we were ahead.  Reidy – who many had been chuntering about (self-included) demonstrated his value, playing in a deep cross that found Blackstock in the area who looped his header perfectly into the ‘net beyond the despairing grasp of Lee Grant.

I must admit I was surprised to see it not disallowed as Dex was definitely climbing on the defender, and the referee had given every challenge as a foul against him for much of the game – but well, we’ll take that, thankyouverymuchindeed!  Certainly Sean ‘Stonecold Steve Austin’ Dyche wasn’t happy about it, and I can see why.

The goal got Burnley going again, and Camp made a decent save from Austin to maintain the Reds lead, the top marksman cutting inside having been fed the ball from Lafferty before unleashing a powerful strike.  Substitute Sam Vokes spurned a good chance by heading wide from close range shortly after being introduced.

O’Driscoll replaced Gillett with Moussi in the defensive midfield role, and the big fella was involved from the off with some decent touches and passes (whilst always maintaining that uniquely Moussi-like ability to not look in full control of his limbs!).  Guedioura replaced McGugan a few minutes later and immediately injected more urgency into proceedings with an eye-catching performance.

With the Burnley central-defence standing flat-footed in a line, Reid slotted through a lovely pass to find the arcing run of Billy Sharp – he got through one on one with Lee Grant and, just as the defender was catching him up, came up with a composed finish to double the Reds lead and effectively put the game to bed.

Sean definitely knows best – I’d have been tempted to take Reidy off before he assisted both the goals that enabled us to win the match!

A good result, and a very good second half performance in particular.  The first half wasn’t bad as such, but we were limited in the opportunities we created – it’s good to see that some minor adjustments gave us enough options to get a result against a decent side.  It’s true we rode our luck defensively in the first half, and I’d definitely say that 2-0 is flattering to us.

This was a 1-0 either way or draw type game on balance of play, I thought.  But, with players coming back from injury and illness, and hopefully some improved confidence from players and fans alike after a good result perhaps we can look forward to some more convincing displays.

Oh yeah, and if you hadn’t summarily dismissed the ridiculous rumours about impending financial meltdown anyway – then you should do so.  Apparently there was an issue with BACS payments to Forest staff, which of course was jumped upon with glee by desperate fans of a certain other club.  So yeah, nothing to see here.

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