Nottingham Forest – 1
Rotherham United – 1
Almost 28,000 fans turned out for a warm Easter Monday afternoon, and ultimately wasted their valuable day off work watching Forest play as though they too were due a day off. Had Rotherham brought more with them, we could certainly have had an extra thousand on our attendance – if the players needed reminding of how important this season and promotion is to the fans, then this level of support at League One should have been an unnecessary reminder.
Smoulds started with Tyson for Lester, dropped Gary Holt for the returning Prutton, but had a very defensive looking bench with Wes, Jules, Gary Holt and Lester sitting alongside Rune Pedersen – but more on that later. The game started badly, Rotherham looked bright going forward, and but for a glancing header from Grant going wide we had very few opportunities until we were already 1-0 down.
Chris O’Grady must have been in shock when he hardly turned on a sixpence, but somehow left Ian Breckin in his wake as he stormed into the D and unleashed a tremendous shot into the top corner giving Smith no chance – very poor from Breckin, and there was no cover at all from his partner either. The Millers fans burst into life and left the rest of the City Ground crowd in somewhat stunned silence.
Very soon after Nathan sprung the offside trap and worked himself into a one on one Neil Cutler – but the finish lacked confidence or quality allowing the keeper to get a touch to send the ball wide. It looked game on to round the keeper for me, who was very quick off his line and off balance, but it wasn’t to be and we had to make do with a corner, which predictably was wasted.
The goal did come though, Craig Fleming blatantly cropped Tyson in the area to give us a 21st minute penalty, which Grant Holt calmly buried into the corner, sending the keeper the wrong way in the process. Chambers had a chance from a rare Commons corner that beat the first man, but could only send a fairly tame header over the bar – he really should have done better with this.
Rotherham continued to look useful going forward, Smith saving well from a Facey header, and Henderson hitting it high and wide from around 12 yards. We were to have chances though, an excellent McGugan corner found Grant on the back post but Cutler was equal to the header and made a smart save to give us another corner – this time taken by Commons, and lo and behold, wasted.
Tyson – who’d picked up a knock in the first half, that Smoulds described post-match as “not too clever – was replaced by Lester at half time, but it was still Rotherham attacking – this time down the left, their right winger making a monkey of Curtis before passing it across the acres of space in our penalty area giving goalscorer O’Grady a glorious opportunity from 7 yards out – but he managed to miss, somehow!
McGugan was taken off having had treatment, and this is where Smoulds’ defensive bench took its toll, because Wes Morgan was his replacement. We switched to a back three with Curtis and Mini-Me operating as ‘wingbacks’ (although they were more back than wing!) and the crowd were starting to get restless – their heckling of Smith to roll it out when a short throw wasn’t always available was understandable but somewhat shortsighted in many cases – and must have worked wonders for Smith’s confidence.
A freekick from around 20 yards was well struck by Commons, both beating the wall AND hitting the target but Cutler again was equal to the task and dived well to his right to make the save again giving us a corner – which predictably enough, came to bugger all. Bennett came on for Wright shortly after this – and to be fair to him, he put a great ball in from the byeline almost immediately which Grant could only head back across goal where Cutler was on hand to gather it.
Lester had a shot saved, Commons toe poke from the rebound was never really looking goalbound and was cleared by a Millers defender – and that was about it, despite the five minutes of stoppage time I think Forest really only forced two saves from Cutler in the second half, and ultimately the Millers were more than worthy of a share of the spoils – a draw was probably the fair result, leaving our highest crowd of the season going home very disappointed indeed.
This disappointment was magnified as news filtered through that the Gills had done us a big favour by beating Bristol City. A win would’ve put us within 2 points of the Robins, and even my pessimism might have lifted a touch. As it was, the gap is 4 points again – just like it was before Easter, but now with 2 less games to play. Far too much ground to make in too few games – particularly if we keep playing so shockingly badly.
Regular readers will know I’m not one to turn on the manager – but his “exciting finish” comments on the radio post-match are really starting to irritate me now. Our players have the demeanor – with a few exceptions – of not really caring enough to put in performances that their wages and our expectations warrant – and I really do fear the worst if we end up in the playoffs because these lads don’t seem to be able to cope at all well when there’s any degree of pressure on them.
I’m very angry indeed right now, the fans played their part today – an attendance that would be the envy of most of the Championship and even some of the Premiership turned up only to be subjected to workmanlike football, poor passing and an absence of passion or effort over the 90 minutes. I really wish that we could somehow instigate a system of performance related wages – perhaps that’s the only motivation that some of our squad seem to have?
Filed under: Matches