The joy of Dex (part 2)..

Whoa-oh-ohhh! This Dex is on fire!

Birmingham City – 1
Nottingham Forest – 2

I’ve been guilty of re-using headlines before, hence the part two – because this isn’t the first time I’ve succumbed to this bad pun.  If you read my preview for this, I held out little or no hope for us getting a win – so hats off to Steve Cotterill, his staff and the players for getting a deserved win against a team yet to taste defeat at home this season.  Against a manager who hadn’t experienced defeat at all at home in The Championship.

With Coventry and Millwall picking up rare wins elsewhere and Bristol City losing it’s been most beneficial to snag three points – other relegation battlers Doncaster and Pompey only picked up a point elevating us to the lofty heights of 20th, leapfrogging Bristol City.  We are still three points from the drop zone – Coventry now making a bid to get away from it.  So whilst two straight wins have made me a bit giddy, it’s still all to do to maintain our position of safety.

Like many others my patience with Cotterill was all but run out – but to be fair to  him he’s oft spoken of balance and I can see in his acquisitions that he’s striven to try to deliver that.  I still think he could’ve fielded a team like this sooner, though:

Camp
Gunter    Chambers    Higginbotham    Elokobi
McCleary    Moussi    Guedioura    Reid
Tudgay    Blackstock

Four four two, left footers on the left, right footers on the right, a ball winner and a playmaker in the middle – on paper I’d question the partnership up front but Tuds and Dex are undoubtedly our hardest workers up front.  With just shy of 1,500 Forest fans able to make a racket in a largely sombre St. Andrews, the stage was set for a potential upset – the unbeaten home record up against the, well, mostly awful away record!

It was the Blues who put the pressure on early doors – but for all their possession and territory they struggled to fashion any real opportunities and slowly by surely Forest started to find their feet and begin to dominate proceedings.  The first chance for us came when Gunter – still getting forward eagerly despite being back in defence – crossed in to Tudgay who couldn’t get a decent connection.  The clearance found McCleary who crossed in to Blackstock who also couldn’t convert into a goalscoring chance.

The Reds notched up the first chance on target too – Myhill needed to be on his toes to deal with Moussi’s effort from 25 yards, largely down to the deflection that threatened to wrong-foot him.  Just as things were looking on the up we saw Danny Higginbotham take to the ground with what looked like a hamstring injury, fortunately we had Joel Lynch on the bench who took his place – fingers cross Danny’s injury isn’t serious, though.

Then a goal! A break from Tudgay saw the ball end up out on the right,  one of those driven crosses you quite often see from McCleary came in from the right, but unusually a Forest striker was gambling at the near post (which we don’t normally see!) – Dex battled with the defender as the ball came in and got a toe on it to put it in high by the near post – his first goal since the day he was clobbered at Cardiff back in October 2010.  What a moment!

Forest were clearly feeling more confident – and were playing some nice stuff too.  Guedioura came so close to a 25 yarder but was just wide (I really hope he gets one of those before the end of the season, I just want to see his reaction to it!).  There were no real wobbles right through ’til half time with the Reds in control and went in to the break with a deserved lead – the home side to boos from the sparsely populated home crowd.

It’s fair to say the spirit around the away end was rather more buoyant than we’ve experienced in a while.  Not just a spirited performance but also with a degree of composure and skill to boot.  It certainly made the half time pints and pies go down much more easily – the second half looked forward to and dreaded in equal measure as we’ve struggled in recent weeks to have two good halves in a game.

Early indications were good from us – Guedioura played the ball forward to Tuds who chested it rather heavily up into the air, so before he could work a way to cause some damage Jonathan Spector was able to get it clear.  The home side started to put Forest under pressure finally.  Former Reds striker “She said no” Marlon King getting an opportunity in the box but Camp was able to make the save at the expense of a corner.

The pressure did tell though – Jailbird Marlon did well in a battle with Elokobi who really ought to have seen the ball out for a goalkick, it was a good layback to Chris Burke but – again – defensively we should be closing down on the edge of the area quicker – a brilliant finish from the winger curling into the top corner giving Camp no chance.  Decent goal, but preventable.  I suppose any goal is preventable.  It was a worrying time.

We didn’t really need to worry, as it turned out – it wasn’t long before the McCleary-Blackstock combination once again struck gold.  A dangerous ball in from the winger wasn’t easy for Dex to control, but he hung a foot out to bring the ball down before swivelling and smashing it into the goal from around eight yards before of course celebrating wildly infront of the travelling Forest fans.

As you would expect, Birmingham did come back at us and it was a nervy finish – David Murphy should have done much better for the home side when he was completely unmarked at the far post, putting it over.  Groper King did well to get past Chambers but couldn’t beat Camp who parried his effort away.  Moments later he played it back to Redmond who missed the target from 25 yards, and again an effort from King brought Camp into action.

Relief came for the Reds when Tudgay broke down the left to win us a corner, as Forest tried to run the clock down Moussi looked to  have secured the points from 25 yards but with Myhill beaten he’d only found the side-netting.  The home side built up further pressure, whilst Forest tried to get the pressure off – Reid and Guedioura working well.  Steve Cotterill wound down the clock further by introducing Anderson for McCleary and shortly after Wootton for Reid.

Birmingham’s pressure almost bore fruit – Keith Fahey curled a cracking effort off the crossbar – had the linesman been Russian then he might just have given a goal anyway, as it transpired it fell for Curtis Davies who looked to have beaten the despairing dive of Lee Camp, but put his effort just wide.  Five minutes of stoppage time felt like an age, but we saw it out and snagged three absolutely vital points.  What a relief!

There were some big celebrations at the away end and perhaps the opportunity for the players and fans to bond a little again after a tricky run.  We were also treated to the terrifying sight of George ‘the Hulk’ Elokobi with his shirt off – the man is an absolute beast!  A trip to bogey team Barnsley next week – could be a challenge, but certainly feeling cautiously more optimistic than before.  Now I’m off to take my hangover for a carvery!

Hulk Smash!

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10 Responses

  1. What a difference a week makes.
    2 wins, 6 points, 4 goals scored, 3 points clear of the bottom 3.
    happy days indeed.

  2. Praise where it is due, this was a proper performance from Forest,especially the first half, when we kept the ball better(O Driscoll perhaps?)Onwards and upwards, we can but hope,well done Steve and the boys. UREDS

  3. Heard the last 15 mins in my car. Unbelievably tense – the BBC radio Nottingham team were having kittens. A very creditable result – and a good lesson in sticking with players too. 2 seasons ago McCleary looked immature, tried to take everyone on, and mostly failed, and I honestly wondered if he would ever be good enough to pull on the garibaldi in the championship. Now he is deservedly keeping Ando out of the side.

    The future… Wolves get relegated so have to let Guediora go to trim the wage bill, QPR stay up and make a multi-million bid for google that finances it for us…..
    *stares into middle distance, noticing flock of pigs above the clouds*

  4. WELL DONE O’Driscoll

  5. Quality strikes from Dex, great to see him score after being out for so long. Excellent from all the lads and special mentions to mccleary who is looking the business who assisted both goals. Always believed it was just a matter of time before he made the right flank his own

  6. More than anything this was a big win mentally for the players and brilliant for Dex so pleased for him.As you say SC has had a lot of stick but credit to him and the boys for a gritty performance.

    We need another 5 wins from our remaining games I still think its going to be damn close.

    You never know we might be nearly level on points with the sheep if things go our way by the time we play them.

    Ballsy stuff Forest im proud …..

    U reds

  7. Super win reds!!!
    Well said red ric! A tough win on the road.
    Could’ve caved in once they levelled but
    I’m positive this will be a massive morale
    boost for everyone involved in this chaotic
    season.
    The pressure valve is still on as teams
    around us also earned points.
    Hats off to the managerial staff and isn’t
    it amazing when you have players in
    their natural positions how a team can
    look more composed & threatening.
    C’mon u Reds!!!
    Love the swipes at Marlon Nffc!
    Keep up the good work!

  8. This report says it all: a left-winger on the left, a right-winger on the right, two forwards, etc – IT’S NOT ROCKET SCIENCE!

  9. [...] the original post on Through the seasons before [...]

  10. Good report as usual NFFC it was a joy to see you write something you enjoyed for a change after all the crap of the last couple of months.When we got up Sunday morning as usual switched on computer dreading to look at score.As you can imagine I was very pleasantly surprised and for the first time in weeks watched the highlights.McCleary is really looking to be a handfull for oppositin left backs and his confidence is sky high.Well done Dex.Nice to see a striker get on the sheet and really look the part.Andy Reid although still looking like he could losse a few pounds really makes things tick.A good alround perfomance and a great result.
    They may surprise us yet and finish above the sheep.

    U Redsssss

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