Nottingham Forest – 0
Swansea City – 0
I’ll tell you what – I’ve yet to encounter fans more tuneful than Swansea ones, and they can count too – they were, I guess rightly, proud of their ten men for standing firm this evening.
So this is half time. To be honest, I left the ground pretty disheartened as a laboured performance from the Reds was rather upstaged by a visiting Swans side reduced to ten men after a mere minute into the game. For the optimists out there, we’ve just equalled our best ever play-off result at the City Ground, so it can’t be that bad, can it?
There were chances – a goal struck off (apparently correctly according to my Sky Spies), a penalty not given for handball due to the referee’s view being blocked, some decent goalkeeping from De Vries too (and indeed, from Lee Camp), but you can’t help but feel a bit frustrated that we couldn’t make over ninety minutes with an extra man pay dividends really. Can you?
Billy made a couple of changes, Guy Moussi succumbing to injury apparently saw a return to the middle for Paul McKenna, with Tudgay dropping to the bench for Earnshaw who returned from suspension:
Moloney Morgan Chambers Gunter
Anderson McKenna McGugan Cohen
So, a mere minute into the game and the ball is infront of A Block, from my seat it looks like their left back goes in late two footed on Lewis. I’ve not seen a replay yet, my Sky Spies seem undecided – one thinks the ball was won, the other thought it a horrible challenge. Semi-optimistic ‘off! off! off!’ chanting quite surprisingly resulted in the referee brandishing just that.
Rodgers was quick to adjust – with Dobbie being withdrawn for Monk, but it seemed that in a perverse twist of accepted logic that the extra man was working against Forest, and being a man down was benefiting who seemed to get a little more traction going forward through their pacey wingers. Traction was a bit of a problem though, the slick pitch causing a few slip-overs.
The first real opportunity fell to the visitors, but a promising break ended with Angel Rangel’s cross-cum-shot went straight through and out the other side for a goal kick. Forest started to show signs of being positive, only to gift the ball back to Swansea, Borini nearly profited having found a way past Chambers, but unable to beat Lee Camp from a tight angle.
Shortly after Borini again was tormentor, a freekick from around the twenty-something yard mark was well struck by the striker and brought a decent save from Camp who tipped it over. Whenever Forest did push forward the visitors got back in numbers and worked very hard to deny us any opportunities. Meanwhile Borini brought another save from Camp.
35 minutes was how long it took for Forest to give De Vries a meaningful test – which kinda says a lot about the match really. Boyd picked up the ball wide on the right near the goal line, and looked up to pick out Earnie with a cracking cross. Earnie, uncharacteristically, met the ball very well with powerful drive – which, alas, was pretty close to De Vries who made a smart save.
The half ended with Swansea attacking and Moloney effectively marshalling Sinclair to safety. Half time arrived, and to be honest optimism wasn’t running massively high for me at least. I thought Swansea deserved a great deal of credit for their approach to the game having had a man sent off, whilst Forest just didn’t seem to get going.
It was a more positive start in the second half, a decent powerful strike from McGugan from range could only be parried by De Vries and was so close to being knocked out into Boyd’s path, but just evaded him before a defender cleared well. Borini fell over and didn’t get up, the Reds played on before good work from Lewis found Earnie who spannered it into the Trent End from the edge of the area.
Borini limped off the pitch to be replaced by Luke Moore, which – whilst I wouldn’t wish injury on a player – has to be decent news, as he’d been a very influential player for our visitors. Another shot from range wasn’t particularly well struck and provided a fairly routine save for De Vries to make.
Moore did have a decent effort after this bringing a save from Camp, before Cohen struck goalward only to be denied by the arm of a Swansea defender in the area. Unfortunately for us, because it was pretty obvious from my seat, referee Mike Dean’s view was pretty much blocked according to Sky Spies, so it was never going to be given and there’s not much point in quibbling!
Then we thought we’d finally broken the deadlock – a McGugan corner found Boyd who flicked on (at the time, I assumed it was just a glancing header directly in), finding Earnie at the far post to head in the net – but he was flagged offside. Confusing at the time, as we thought it was straight from the corner, but I’m reliably informed that the linesman got it spot on. Damn him!
Almost immediately after the ever-dangerous Dyer got loose and was one-on-one with Camp, who made an excellent save from the winger’s shot. Billy responded with a double substitution, replacing McKenna and Earnshaw for McCleary and Tyson. Presumably the desire was to add a bit more pace and directness to our game.
It almost paid off – Anderson did well to find Tys in the area who managed to eventually get the ball past a couple of defenders before getting a shot away that was well blocked. Tys again was on hand to try to get a diving header on a Cohen ball into the box, but wasn’t quite able to get on the end of the ball. Tudgay replaced Boyd from the bench.
The last effort of the game for us was with Anderson striking the ball without masses of power, but it was well placed and brought a decent save from De Vries. The four minutes of stoppage time involved Forest pressure, but very little danger for the resilient visitors who saw out the game without conceding and duly celebrated like crazy with their fans.
It’s understandable really – a really credible performance from the ten men, certainly whilst we had chances to get a goal, so did they – they were more than good value for the draw. So we’re now truly at half time – the bright side for me is that we must go to the Liberty Stadium to get something from the game. Imagine how spectacularly negative we might’ve been if we were taking a fragile one goal lead there?
Having said that, Swansea too will have to go for it – and we know how good a side they are on their day. It’s going to be interesting. I’m still not feeling confident, but then I wasn’t before kick-off today, and wasn’t even when it looked like a dream start for us with our opponents being reduced to ten men. I’m prepared to do my bit and support the lads though, that’s all we can do!
Filed under: Matches