Chesterfield – 1
Nottingham Forest – 2
It was serious brown-trousers time at Saltergate as Forest once again found themselves desperately defending towards the end of the game, but unlike in previous matches, they successfully defended a slender lead to register three points, and rise – probably temporarily – back into the automatic promotion places. Chesterfield must be cursing Forest, we’ve registered an aggregate score of 6-1 against them in our two games this season, when in both games they probably deserved more than they got.
Smoulds lined up in a side pretty much in line with the one I wanted in my match preview – a flat four-four-two with Clingan and Commons returning to the side, with Jack pushed upfront to partner Agogo upfront. Not that the early exchanges in the first half made it sound like much of an improvement. Chesterfield set out to frustrate just as other sides have recently, not playing particularly progressively, but working hard to deny us space – and Forest, as is typical lately, didn’t really seem to have a way of dealing with that in the early exchanges.
The first half in totally generated very little in the way of chances for either side, Paul Hall shot wide after beating Breckin, and again caused us problems later in the half sending a great ball across the face of the goal, fortunately with no Chesterfield player in position to tap it into the goal. Forest actually did get the ball in the net just before half time, Sammy Clingan played a delicious ball to Agogo, his first effort was blocked by Barry Roche, the rebound was again struck by Agogo and turned in by Perch, but the linesman’s flag was up – it wasn’t clear whether it was for offside or because the ball had gone out of play for a goalkick.
The final incident of note in the first half was Jack Lester appearing to have raised his hand and struck Phil Picken, fortunately the referee decided on leniency and merely booked the firey forward. Shortly after this Alex Bailey collided with Bennett in a fairly innocuous looking challenge, but also picked up a yellow card – so the referee went from very forgiving to condemning in a matter of moments before half time.
The second half saw Chesterfield fly out of the blocks, Allison did well to hold the ball up and release it to Larkin who really should have hit the target, shortly after this Niven brought a good save from Smith. Despite being put under increasing pressure it was Forest who were to go up the other end of the pitch and take the lead very much against the run of play.
Lester played a tremendous through-ball to Agogo which put him through on goal, and just as he did against Blackpool, he kept his cool and put the ball comfortably past Barry Roche into the back of the net. Chesterfield were right back at us, and again Larkin was the guilty-party in the missing-good-chances stakes – volleying over.
Despite Chesterfield continuing to press, Forest were clearly dangerous on the counter – Commons this time found some space and played the ball to Agogo – who looked suspiciously offside – who went through before being brought down by Barry Roche. The former-Forest keeper picked up a booking despite being the last man, and Agogo picked himself up to take the spotkick and score despite Roche picking the right way.
As we all know only too well, Forest don’t “do” making life easy for themselves, so the defence duly decided to have a snooze whilst Hall chipped a simple looking ball into the penalty area where Downes had a pretty easy job of heading in to make the scoreline 2-1 and immediately eliminate any sense of comfort Forest might have had with a two goal cushion.
The remainder of the game felt very fraught and tense, Chesterfield piling on the pressure as Forest seemingly seemed incapable of keeping hold of the ball. Smoulds brought on Luke Chambers for Sammy Clingan (who had earlier been clattered by a bad challenge), putting Chambers in at right back and pushing Curtis up to right midfield, with Prutton tucking into central midfield.
Shortly after this Perch did well to cut inside and unleash a snapshot that struck the bar, and surprisingly we continued to create chances – Agogo returned the earlier favour by Lester and put Jack through on goal, pretty much rounded Roche, but wasn’t able to shoot without deflecting off Bailey giving us a corner.
At the other end, Larkin once again proved luckless infront of goal – this time he appeared to have done everything right, but wasn’t ready for a brave block by Julian Bennett who appeared to take it square in the midriff. In the meantime Agogo was wirthdrawn from Dobie, and Commons for Gary Holt, which seems negative, used up a few valuable seconds – and Holt even had a decent shot just over. To say that the full time whistle came as an extreme relief is a huge understatement!
All in all, a hugely important three points – Chesterfield will undoubtedly feel aggrieved at once again being on the wrong end of a flattering scoreline against us this season – but I don’t really care! It goes without saying that Forest need to build on this result and also improve performances over the next couple of home games before our daunting looking trip to Scunthorpe, and later Bristol City. But I’m in a good mood now – well done, Reds!
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