Straight back into the saddle for the Reds after a disappointing midweek setback against Scunthorpe. And it’s fellow promotion hopefuls Cardiff City who visit us with our unbeaten home record firmly in their expensively-assembled sights. Cardiff currently sit in second, two points ahead of the Reds having played one more – between us sit Norwich who must visit Leeds on Saturday.
Once again Raddy is missing through suspension, but no fresh injury concerns have arisen following our last game – so it’s just the longer term injuries to Dexter Blackstock, Guy Moussi and Robbie Findley the Reds are suffering with. Dave Jones has a lot of firepower in his locker (huh, Davey Jones’ locker – geddit? Sorry) – indeed, in their last game Bellamy and Jay Emmanuel-Thomas were on the bench!
Former Reds loanee Aaron Ramsey is likely to feature too, and whilst of course it’s disappointing that we couldn’t get the lad back on loan I’d hope he gets a reasonable reception from the Forest faithful. As well as Bellamy and Emmanuel-Thomas pushing for returns to the starting eleven they also welcome Stephen McPhail back from injury.
In terms of form we’re both looking strong, Cardiff slightly more so owing to our recent dropped points away at Scunthorpe and QPR. The Bluebirds haven’t tasted defeat in their last five games – and have won three of ‘em – drawing most recently with Burnley and earlier in the run with Reading. Forest of course remain unbeaten in league games at home for quite some time!
We have of course already met Cardiff this season at their place – and we triumphed with a 2-0 scoreline that I must confess surprised me at the time. It was a costly win though, a dubious (and, shock horror, unpunished) challenge by Olofinjana left Dexter Blackstock – scorer of one of the Forest goals – on a stretcher and on his way to lengthy surgery and recuperation.
A really big game this for both teams – having missed the opportunity to put matters regarding second place into their own hands on Wednesday, this is a second bite at the cherry. Win this game, win our game in hand at Middlesbrough, and our fate is in our own hands if we can match the results of our fellow promotion chasers.
Pretty big ifs and buts though – with 17 games remaining it seems unlikely there won’t be a few more twists and turns which is why it’s been disappointing to see a few murmurs of discontent from some Forest fans, although this is greatly overshadowed by the general view that the Scunny game is a setback we are capable of overcoming.
Whilst our visitors run of results of late have been solid, their performances are not exactly breathtaking. A lot like us, if we’re being honest. Like us they’ve ridden luck to a degree, got a few late goals. Whilst their attacking threat speaks for itself I’m not so convinced by their defence – this is borne out by the stats, away from Cardiff they’ve only scored one more than they’ve let in (our away stats aren’t any better – luckily we’re at home for this one!).
A defeat in this game would be a pisser – a draw tolerable, a win would be very welcome. I think these are two pretty well match teams as our relatively close league placing would testify. We certainly didn’t see them at their best back in November and hopefully Billy can get the better of Jones a second time this season. Certainly I’m expecting goals – as for who will get ‘em and who, if any, will get more – I’m sorry, I haven’t a clue!