Nottingham Forest – 3
Bradford City – 0
Personally I was never interested in drawing comparisons with Notts County’s excellent opening day annihilation of this evening’s opponents, but certainly a few fans around me were. It was perhaps as a result of this drubbing that Bradford had a very defensive look about them and opted for a stifling approach, which ultimately they weren’t able to maintain beyond the first half. We started with:
McCleary Morgan Lynch Cohen
Anderson McGugan Majewski Davies
With a substitutes bench of Camp, Fairclough, Mitchell, Adebola, Garner, McGoldrick and McKenna. I was surprised to see Smith in goal, must admit, and also the combination of Majewski and McGugan together. I had pondered Forest’s foresight in only opening the Main Stand and the lower Trent End for Forest fans – but the total indifference to the fixture was confirmed with a pretty paltry 4,639 fans – 450 odd making another thankless trip to Nottingham from Bradford.
The first half was a scrappy affair. Forest didn’t settle particularly well and Bradford harried and chased well. Notable highlights were a McGugan freekick well struck forcing a save from Eastwood in goal for the Bantams. Majewski was full of useful passing and forward momentum, a deflection took what looked like a goalbound shot out for a corner.
Tys, McCleary and Lewis all worked at finding ways through the City back line but were thwarted by the numbers back, and some stout defending. Lewis was looking particularly lively, bursting through toward goal when he was cynically felled by Bradford midfielder Lee Bullock – who was duly booked. I’ve seen less bad challenges attract a red card!
Blackstock and Tyson combined well when the latter flicked on the ball for Tyson to run on to, but the linesman’s flag was up for reasons best known to himself, as I didn’t think it was offside nor any other infringement took place. The two combined again, this time Tys provider with a scooped cross to Dex who wasn’t able to get any power on his header making it easy for the ‘keeper.
So a promising if not exactly scintillating opening. Bradford were attempting to soak up the pressure with the occasional break forward – which is probably rather fortuitous given our rather makeshift defence – but it was good that Forest largely continued their patient approach to breaking down their opponents and weren’t panicking over a lack of goals.
The lack of crowd probably helped on the lack-of-pressure stakes – what was interesting was the lack of ambient crowd noise meant you could clearly hear the Forest players constantly talking to one another. Including the oft-maligned Paul Smith who was constantly advising his defenders of the whereabouts of opponents (although he did leave a clearance a bit late which he ended up shanking for a throw-in in the first half!).
A perfect start to the second half, though – Nathan Tyson chased down what looked to be a rather forlorn cause down the right, winning the ball but isolated by the goal line. He turned inside and clipped a ball to the back stick where the onrushing Paul Anderson opted for the spectacular diving header rather than a volley to open the scoring for Forest. A well taken goal, and a cracking assist.
Forest looked confident now and Bradford started to lose some of their disciplined stifling – McGugan was looking more dangerous putting in some nasty-to-defend looking corners, and a tricky cross which required Eastwood’s intervention to stop it falling for Cohen on the back stick. It didn’t take long for Forest to find another chink in the visitors armour, though.
On the hour it was Tyson again the architect, Forest working the ball inside the fullback and utilising Nathan’s pace to get him round the outside and to the ball – this time down the left side enabling him to fire the cross in hard from the by-line toward Blackstock on the near post – who managed to contort himself to reach the ball at a not particularly easy height and put it past the ‘keeper on the volley.
Garner came on for Davies, with Tyson moving on to the wing and Joe up front, although it was Tys who was next bearing down on goal. Blackstock did very well to hold onto the ball under challenge, and fed a tremendous throughball to Tyson who was haring down the inside right channel, Tys made no mistake with a powerful drive – however sadly for him Eastwood made no error either, making the save at the expense of a corner.
Shortly after this Dex and Majewski were withdrawn for McGoldrick and McKenna, and McKenna was instantly involved with some deft midfield passing – indeed, the captain was instrumental in the final goal – playing a fantastic pass through to Anderson making a good run down the right, he played it across goal where McGugan did well to make up the ground and slide in to put the ball into the net from a fairly tight angle.
The game ended on a sour note though – Bradford had already substituted Bullock after he somehow escaped a second yellow for another disgusting challenge, but youngster Jonathan Bateson made his debut one to forget after a horrifically late ‘tackle’ on Tyson – fortunately Tys had both feet off the ground, and Davies sounded upbeat about his prospects for the weekend despite the Forest striker being stretchered off.
Having used up all our substitutions, the red card served really only to even up the sides – but with very little time remaining it wasn’t to our detriment. Tys was definitely man of the match, but there were many really pleasing things throughout the team performance today – although, of course, West Brom on saturday are going to provide a much sterner test for the Reds.
After being posed the inevitable questionr regarding news on the transfer front, Billy was fairly noncommital – although he does have that cunning way of – despite basically saying he doubted we’d have signed anybody by the weekend – leaving a glimmer of hope that we just might. We shall see, I suppose, but for tonight – well played, lads!
The reward for this win is a home draw against fellow Championship side Middlesbrough to be played later this month, who rather impressively managed to beat nobody in the first round – having been given a bye.