With no away win for two months, it’s pretty obvious that if we are – to coin a popular phrase – serious about promotion that we should be looking up to pick up all the points at the Withdean “stadium” on saturday. We’ve claimed 4 points from 6, and were unfortunate to only claim a draw at Bradford, whilst perhaps fortunate to claim three points against Northampton (although I think we deserved them) – so whilst results in the last two games have been okay – our performances have still been below our potential.
Brighton aren’t doing all that well, but as with us – their last game was a win – a 4-1 win against Leyton Orient. Before that they were really struggling to score – so hopefully our usually reliable(ish) defence can capitalise on this and all being well give us a clean sheet to build on. The drab surroundings of the Withdean will be boosted by a sell-out in the away end of hopefully vocal Forest fans backing the team, and Smoulderwood has a bit of a selection poser for the game.
Sammy Clingan is available again, as is new lad Luke Chambers after his forced omission from the squad to face Northampton Town. Kris Commons is also in the running for an appearance after completing 75 minutes in a behind-closed-doors friendly in which Chambers also featured (at right-back). Certainly Clingan would be straight in the team for Gary Holt for me. I’m not quite as vehemently anti-Holt as some fans, but Clingan does bring more to the pitch – but we would need to watch whether we’re covering back from midfield without Gary in the side.
I can’t really comment on Chambers but I don’t think our defence really needs tinkering with – if Commons is fully fit (or as close as fully fit as he gets) then I would be tempted to include him for his creativity – which is where the dilemma comes in – who would we drop to shoehorn him into the side? Perch? Harsh. Prutton? Harsh. Sacrifice a striker? Seems silly. It’s a tricky conundrum – I’d still just like to see a flat 4-4-2 formation, but without a right winger that means shoving Prutts or Perchy out on the right wing. Hmm. Maybe something like this could work:
Curtis Morgan Breckin Bennett
Perch Clingan Prutts Commons
Gr. Holt Tyson
But even then I’m forgetting Lester, who has worked hard to get back into first team contention and has made a difference in recent games. Maybe I would try to unleash the “wronged striker” in Grant and put him on the bench for Lester, hoping that it would trigger the best we’ve seen of him when he’s been inexplicably dropped or almost sold to Brizzle – as currently he seems to be entering the “moaning at the ref” cycle of his game.
All in all, tricky. I’m glad I’m a mere pleb and not the one who actually has to pick the team! But I digress from previewing this game, what of Brighton? They’re managed by Ray Wilkins’ little brother, although Dean doesn’t have the scary eyes thing going on. Another Dean is a player we might want to watch out for in midfield, Dean Hammond – he’s already weighed in with 10 goals this season.
It certainly won’t be easy, but on paper (ah, on paper – if only all games were played on paper we’d be promoted already!) we should have enough in the tank to win. I think if we do get the result, and do it convincingly, it will be a much needed tonic for fans and team alike – too many of the doom-merchants are surfacing on the message boards despite us remaining in a competitive position – they soon go quiet when the team does well. It’s almost like they enjoy failure more.