Well that could’ve been worse!

table_27thfeb.jpgWhilst Scunthorpe continued their excellent form with a 1-3 victory at Gresty Road against Crewe, it was kind of predictable, despite the excitement of Crewe taking the lead (I couldn’t help but vaguely keep track of the results after all!).  They’re looking decided difficult to catch now – a full ten points ahead of us.

That said, if (and it’s a big if) we win our game in hand, then it’s seven points, and it wasn’t that long ago that we were that far clear of the chasing pack.  But the better news was that Blackpool beat Oldham at Boundary Park, and Doncaster held Yeovil to a draw – so assuming we’re capable of mounting some kind of run of form, second place is looking a lot more of a tempting prospect.  Of course, we have to watch out for Bristol City below us.

It certainly makes the forthcoming fixtures with Scunny and Bristol a little more interesting, both away from home, and our only remaining fixtures against “contenders” this season – ordinarily I’d be happy with that, but with Forests’ propensity to drop points against teams lower in the league table, it’s hardly a comfort to be facing so many of them over the coming weeks.  The rapidity of Oldham’s poor run of form offers hope that it may affect a few more of our promotion rivals, but of course, it’s a stark warning that we could go that way again after the awful run we’ve hopefully put behind us…

It’s a big day for the Reds…

… and we’re not even playing!  But our promotion rivals are, and whilst they’re all playing an ‘extra’ game, it gives Scunny a chance of amassing a ten point lead over us if they can get a win tonight; which on current form certainly doesn’t seem to be above them.  They face a trip to Crewe, who hopefully won’t approach the game in the same way that they did when we visited and annihilated them.

Yeovil can put themselves three points clear of us if they are successful on a tricky trip north to Doncaster, whilst Oldham are at home to Blackpool – and if they can turn around the appalling run they’ve found themselves on, they’d end up one point ahead of us – although if Blackpool can play with as much endeavour and effort as they did at our place recently, it will certainly prove to be a difficult game for the Latics.

If all results fare badly for us, it will leave us in fourth place – with a game in hand over all three teams above us.  Bristol City would remain just below us in fifth, with two games in hand over the top three, and a game in hand over us (and they’re only a point behind us, remember!).  If there were any starker demonstration of the importance of our results, I can’t imagine what it would look like – 2nd – 5th place is incredibly tight, there’s a seven point gap to Scunthorpe currently, and a 5 point gap from 5th to 6th placed Tranmere.

I think I might just not try to keep track of the results – whenever I do that they all seem to be going really well until some late intervention to throw a spanner in the works – so I’ll just check the results later tonight and hope that at least some of them went our way!

Doubting Chesterfield feel embittered?

Then check out some of the captions on these pictures, and these ones too, on their official website! Whilst I can understand the compulsion, the lack of professionalism is quite amusing – I’ve saved my favourite two for posterity – the first, features Barry Roche doing his best gibbon impression:

And my absolute favourite is below, it will keep me chuckling for days! Whilst it’s given me a good laugh, if you’re reading, Tina Jenner, I think you need to grow up a bit, love! :lol:

* Due to a sense of humour deficiency I’ve been asked to remove the offending pictures by Chesterfield FC’s webmaster, which I’ve done since they do own the copyright of the images.  The picture that amused me most was one of David Prutton – who was, of course, heavily bearded and long haired at the time – which had the caption “a random tramp seems to clear Seb’s shot” – alas I can no longer share it with you, and of course, the caption on the official site has since been changed.  Not that anyone is likely to look back upon this story anyway! 

Thank you very much for six points, Spireites!

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!

Chesterfield vs. Forest preview..

I’m getting fed up of saying we could really use three points in our next game – but the fact remains we could.  Of course, the phrase “must win” is bandied about, and whilst it’s not strictly true since automatic will still be attainable mathematically with a defeat, on a morale front we really should be getting all the points.  We’ve netted 16 points in 14 games, which over the course of a season is border-line relegation form – we need to turn this around with a good run of results, let’s hope that starts tomorrow!

Few of us will have forgotten tuesday night’s debacle against Blackpool – whilst we losttwo points thanks to a controversial penalty, which apparently has bitterly disappointed the squad (and fans alike), that shouldn’t detract from the fact that we were second-best through much of the game, and a big improvement from the players is necessary.  The other disappointment in that game was Grant Holt’s booking, which sees him suspended along with Tyson – taking away arguably our best striking combination.

The biggest issue for me is our painful lack of width when going forward – and since Smoulds has some enforced changes to make, I would like to see him go further in changing his team selection.  Now I’m not one of those (plentiful) fans who believe that Gary Holt is part of the axis of evil, but I’d like to see him rested tomorrow, and I’d like to see the Reds revert to something more akin to a flat 4-4-2 formation.  For what it’s worth, the team I’d select would be:

Smith

Curtis — Morgan — Breckin — Bennett

Perch — Prutton — Clingan — Commons

Lester — Agogo

Perch and Prutts could have the license to swap positions, and hopefully it will give our midfield a much-needed attacking feel, and hopefully provide the forwards with better service than they’ve enjoyed lately.  Lester will naturally drop back into midfield during the game, which means we need Agogo to work harder than I typically have seen him do so – but then, that goes for the entire team.

Chesterfield aren’t on a great run of form – they’ve won only one in the last six – not that this in itself is enough to inspire confidence.  Brighton were on a poor run of home form when we visited them, and look what happened there!  If anything I’d rather see us face a team in red-hot form just to alleviate the embarrassment when we roll over and sit deep should we actually manage to get a lead in the game.

As I’ve mentioned, Grant is suspended, as is Tyson.  Chesterfield are missing striker Jamie Ward to a hamstring injury, which leaves them depending on the man-mountain Wayne Allison.  Certainly not a gifted striker by any stretch of the imagination, but the kind of hard working bustling player who always seems to cause our defence immeasurable problems – so I certainly wouldn’t be writing him off any time soon.

Of course, we “tonked” them 4-0 earlier in the season – but any of you at the game will remember the bafflement we had upon leaving the ground.  The game itself was pretty even, and characterised by some lethal finishing from Jack, Neil Harris (!), Grant actually managed to convert a penalty and Nicky Southall finished the very peculiar “rout”.  Interestly only one of those goalscorers is available for this game.

Chesterfield will be fired up for this – they will certainly be keen to avenge the extremely flattering reverse they suffered at the City Ground, and they of course have the enigma of Barry Roche in goal – a man who rarely shined in a Forest shirt when faced by formidible opponents like coffee cups, but certainly hasn’t looked the hapless keeper bereft of confidence since joining the Spireites.

It’s impossible to predict anything about Forest now, a win is important to lift the fans and players alike – but whether we’re capable of registering one is another matter entirely.  I’ve had my confidence in the squad shred to pieces, I know they are capable – on their day – of beating any team in this league, but they’ve not had their day for some time.  A win would be very welcome, coupled with some decent loan signings next week.  I’m not particularly confident that either will happen.

Bloody hell, and I thought our fans were fickle!

Like many Forest fans, I had a quiet smile at the Derby result last night.  You might have noticed a distinct lack of contact between me and my Derby-supporting friend who I’d been interviewing earlier in the season – this is entirely deliberate and I thank them for not hassling me when things are going well at the theatre of sheep, and not so well at ‘fortress’ (arf) City Ground.  The Championship is shaping up for an exciting climax.

As far as I’m aware, the Sheep weren’t exactly expected to run away with the league this season, in fact, a top half finish seemed to be the best many fans hoped for at the wrong end of Brian Clough way.  Billy Davies has obviously blown these expectations out the water – the molesters of mutton were 6 points clear atop the Championship – and still remain in 1st spot as I type – so it was with something akin to childish glee that I found this thread of utter whingeing via a helpful link on Vital Forest.

Now I’m always quite quick to stick the boot in on some sections of our support who are utterly unreasonable most of the time – but that link takes the biscuit entirely, and does indeed confirm the age old adage, that I’d rather be a muppet than a sheep!

Brecks apologises for abusive behaviour..

It seems there certainly was some substance to complaints fans posted on message boards after the Blackpool game, as Ian Breckin has come out and apologised for his actions via the official Forest website.  Which reports our captain retains the 100% backing of Smoulderwood.  Clearly an apology was necessary if he swore and gestured at a support – no matter how idiotic the supporter in question reportedly was, but somehow I doubt that this will be sufficient for those who seem to have seized upon this incident as an excuse to stick the boot in on Breckin.  He said:

“It was wrong and I shouldn’t have done what I did.  I was so frustrated at the manner in which Blackpool had scored and unfortunately one particular supporter bore the brunt.  I can only apologise sincerely to the individual concerned and any other supporters who were offended by my actions.”

As club captain it was rather a shoddy lack of professionalism he showed, but I’m sure all of us can think of examples where we’ve lost our cool when we shouldn’t have.  Personally I think the apology is sufficient – given some of the utter crap coming loudly from the mouths of many supporters surrounding me at that particular game, I can understand why he would feel frustrations.  Then again, I can understand why the fans were annoyed too given the quality of the performance – but that said, Breckin wasn’t particularly the worst offender in a Forest shirt – so why he was singled out is a mystery to me.

Smoulds confirms badly kept Matt Jarvis secret..

Whenever transfer rumours start, it doesn’t take long for Gillingham’s Matt Jarvis to be mentioned – a highly rated wide player capable of playing left or right, it’s unsurprising why he’s quite alluring for Forest fans who’ve suffered widthless dreary football for the majority of the season!  According to the Nottingham Evening Post, we’ve made a £250k bid to bring him to the City Ground – which will involve an initial loan similar to the deal we struck for Nathan Tyson.

Given the interest from other clubs (at Championship level), I imagine that initial bid will be knocked back – remembering how the Gills unscrupulous chairman Paul Scally dealt with the Marlon King transfer (what is it with us and Gillingham players?!) I imagine he’ll be more than happy to sit on his resource and kick off as much of a bidding war as he can.  But then, perhaps we may have earned some goodwill by releasing Nicky Southall from his contract to rejoin the Kent club?

The paper does quote Smoulds as saying:

“Jarvis is a player we have been watching for a while.

“We would be very interested in bringing him to the club.”

Clearly there’s some truth in us targeting him – whether or not we can pull off the transfer is another matter entirely.  I think a signing like this would go some way to alleviate continued frustration from Forest fans about our activity in the January window.  It’s clear to see that we are painfully narrow with no natural wide players (aside from Commons – and no, I don’t mean his waistline!), which puts us in a position where devious chairmen could well find themselves in a position where they might want to squeeze more cash out of us.

Of course, with around a week until the ‘magic’ date of 28th when Smoulds said signings would be made in order to be eligible to play in a potential play-off final, I expect the rumours and gossip to start to ramp up.  This one at least has some confirmation with a quote from the manager – of course, whether he made that quote now or last season whilst still at Northampton is anyone’s guess given the Evening Posts’ track record!

Did Brecks and Smoulds swear at fans?

There are accusations flying on the Vital Forest forum that both Ian Breckin and Smoulderwood were involved with at least verbal altercations with supporters during or just after the game against Blackpool last night.  Hearing some of the fans around me, I can understand the compulsion – with plenty of ill-informed vitriol flying pitchward from all directions – I can certainly understand the rage, but some people really do need to have a think before they open their mouths.

But even considering the provocation from supporters, if it’s true that fans were told to ‘fuck off’ or were gestured at with the ‘wanker sign’ – even if you or I would think it is warranted – it does seem rather symptomatic of the kind of ‘team spirit’ we exhibited under our last full time manager – and does rather go against the grain of ‘the solidity of the group’ that Smoulderwood often refers to during interviews.

There’s no excuse for it really – I wouldn’t join the clamour of reactionists (including, if you click the link above, the apparent recipient of some of this abuse – who hardly aquits himself when he’s had time to sit and type his thoughts) who want to see Breckin hounded out of his captaincy, or even his contract – to be honest, I’ve felt like calling some of our so-called supporters wankers on more than one occasion – but after putting in a disappointing performance – the players and manager should really be ready to deal with the inevitable abuse that will follow.

Breckin is an interesting character really – because nobody really seems to have taken to him.  He’s mostly solid if unspectacular at the back – opting for long clearances or into touch more often than not.  Yesterday, and against Northampton, I thought he’d been more ready to look up and play a pass across the back or up the line – but I fear that once again the prejudice of some fans kicks in, so now he’s “shit” and “useless”.  Please, some people need a healthy dose of realism.

As for stripping him of his captaincy, who would you give the armband to?  Working my way from the back, Curtis is hardly vocal, Wes and Jules are too inexperienced, Prutton isn’t even a Forest player (hopefully he will be), but stands out as a potential future captain.  Gary Holt – ha, I bet that would go down well with the boo-boys, Perchy is too young, Tyson, Agogo, Grant Holt?  No, not really.  Sammy Clingan?  Maybe, but he can’t even get on the pitch, Jack Lester?  He has a bit of passion, that’s for sure – but his discipline isn’t great.  Paul Smith?  I don’t think he’s vocal enough just for a goalkeeper yet, let alone a captain.

Whilst Breckin is most certainly not the greatest captain we’ve ever had – is there any alternative?

The Calderwood conundrum..

I’ve shamelessly pinched this from a Forest forum – it resonated with me somewhat, and had a spark more optimism about it than I was able to muster earlier… I was going to avoid the message boards tonight through fear of rampant pessimism and over-reaction, but couldn’t resist a sneaky peak and found something slightly more pleasing!

Right then, now I know that alot of us can be accused of being fickle when things go wrong for Forest, me included, hense why we go through many managers no doubt! So I’m all for giving Calderwood the time to build this Forest team. Something that I thought he was doin well. Especially when the first three 3minutes of our season was a disaster with Tyson getting injured and Commons already out for two months.

I mean the guy was working wonders considering we were playing an under strength side and players out of position to fill the gaps. So it was difficult to fault the him! And let’s be honest a new manager is going to be judged by everybody associated with the club, fans and all, during this early part of their reign.

Now obviously the good furtune we were having during the honeymoon period of the Calderwood era is well and truely over. December we were 7points clear of Scunthorpe, yet now we are 7points behind Scunthorpe and continually missing out on the opportunity to close the gap!

One of the key times to judge a managers ability is when after things have been goin so well, is how they respond to everything going so tits up! Ignoring Tyson being suspended he has the strongest possible squad available to him, yet we are performing like a struggling league one outfit! With each week that passes we are getting closer to the teams outside the playoffs and new teams are steaking their claim to the automatic promotion hunt!

Tonight we were a total disgrace! When we had the ball be didn’t know what to do with it, the set pieces and crossing never looked threatening, The strikers got zero support, the Curtis/Prutton attack became more and more predictable and easy to handle, Players like Agogo just looked unfit and lazy, Gary Holt continued to be a waste of space as whenever he plays it’s like playing with 5 at the back! I mean it’s like we were playing a 5-2-1-2 formation with him in which allowed the opposition to dominate the midfield and whenever the ball was hoofed forward (which is most of the time) Blackpool were always winning the ball and had available free men to be there in support to get another move started! Which was generally down the wings as we had no wingers out there to cover and our midfield was so darn flat!

Then there was the Bennett factor. The man, like every one watching, could see that we had nothing on the left going forward so did his best to offer the option which 9 times out of ten was ignored! I mean has he and Brecks fallen out or something as the amount of times I saw Julian screaming for the ball in space on the left only for Breckin to flatly ignore him, was ridiculous!

What is Calderwood playing at therefore! He has got Commons and Clingan on the bench, both fit, both ready and raring to go yet even when the Forest midfield was playing so totally shit, showing no life and no width, Colin chose to ignore them!

The best we have played in the past 5 games has been when Clingan has been playing! Chelsea we were Rubbish. Sammy came on at half time and changed our team and was the only positive we could take from the performance. Bradford we were superb for long patches and Clingan again was on the pitch with Gary Holt on the bench were he should be! So why has Clingan been ignored the last two games???

It’s simple we lack shape and width and pace! The formation is wrong and the personnel too! Calderwood has the best players all fit and available yet he is ballsing it up! Bottling it! He sees this and thinks experience is the way forward to help him out thus continues with Gary Holt and therefore continues to fail!

Against Chesterfield it’s simple. A return to 4-4-2 and the team as follows

 

Smith

Curtis Morgan Breckin Bennett

Prutton Clingan Perch Commons

Holt Lester


A return to width, more balanced, our two set piece takers are restored and who could argue with that midfield? That has to be one of the strongest in the division! Up front you have Lester in Tyson’s absence, a man who has been scoring again since his return to the starting XI behind the front two and a player who loves this club and always puts his foot in and gives 100%! Already a better option up front than the misfiring Dobie and on tonights performance the lazy Agogo.

I put it forward to you, how can you argue with that team sheet? Yet without fail Calderwood will stick with the shite formation and incorrect team selection that has been misfiring the last 4 games! I’m losing respect for the man with each game that goes by! Surely he can see what’s going wrong right?

We will all have to hope so!

It’s nice to see something positive, although Smoulds (I reverted to his real name in the title since I am basically filching someone elses words!) still looked like this after the game, he’s developing a fine line in comedy facial expressions!

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