It’s all gone quiet in the valleys…

Nottingham Forest – 3
Swansea City – 1

The first half is probably best forgotten – Forest were ragged and disorganised and it wasn’t really all that surprising when Swansea took the lead 3 minutes from time when Fallon headed home from a corner.  The side were booed off by sections of the ‘support’ which was regrettable, although the performance was pretty piss poor and whilst Swansea hardly looked worldbeaters either, they probably did marginally merit their lead.

After half time it was a different story altogether.  The reds had a lot more urgency about their play and it wasn’t long before Kris Commons was able to pick out an absolute peach of a defence splitting pass to leave James Perch (who at the time was playing left back!) with the relatively simple task of sidefooting past ex-Sheepshagger Oakes in the Swansea goal.  He finished it well, though, bless him – and a day after his birthday to boot!

It was less than two minutes later that Commons himself slipped his marker and was left with the chance to stick the ball in the net which he duly did with aplomb, much to the delight of the Forest fans and the disbelief of the chav-type characters from Wales who were seeing a somewhat different Forest side to the one they’d been taking the piss out of in the first half!

Jack came on for the largely quiet (but hardworking as ever) Grant Holt – he’d had a torrid first half given our long ball penchant and hadn’t been given much relief by the ref, and it wasn’t long after Jack’s introduction that Agogo was able to shrug off the last defender and somehow get the ball over the keeper who’d come out quick to close him down to send the Forest fans into raptures – and a special thanks to the MC for cueing up the chorus to “Wake me up before you go go” to go with the celebrations – quality!

Commons went off to a deserved ovation from the home fans after his match-changing second half performance for Bennett, who presumably was benched owing to his four bookings bearing in mind we’ve two players out for international duty for the Scunthorpe game, and basically from this moment on it was all Forest – who introduced youngster Robert Hughes in the closing stages (although he still had time to have two long range efforts marginally off target).

All in all, a cracking result – particularly since Tranmere lost and Bristol City drew – leaving us 3 points clear of Yeovil of all teams!  Despite the restrictions placed on them the Swansea fans didn’t disappoint, full of their anti-English nonsense and sporting more than their fair share of fake-Burberry.  I always wonder if they hate England as much as they suggest then why play in our league and speak our language!  If you hate the fucking English sing in Welsh!… oh, you can’t?…


Forest vs. Swansea City preview

Swansea visit the City Ground tomorrow on a reasonable run of form – they’ve amassed ten points from the last six games, whereas Forest have accrued nine, so not much to pick between them except that perhaps of those six games, Swansea have done better recently – whereas Forest have failed to win in four outings.

Perhaps not coincidentally, in those four games we’ve been without Danny Cullip, who could be in contention for a return against the Welshmen tomorrow, which is a huge boost as he seems to bring a great presence to our defence.  Commons is apparently showing no ill-effect from his 90 minutes against Port Vale, so should retain his place, which would suggest we will stick to a conventional 4-4-2 formation, although hopefully with Southall on the right to give us creativity down both flanks.  If Cullip is to return, then Big Wes is likely to make way for him.

Swansea are reportedly unlikely to have notable fatty Trundle-bum available to them, I read somewhere it was due to a hamstring injury, but I think it’s more likely he ate too many hamburgers.  On a more serious note though, if true this is good, because whilst his temperament (well, he is a Scouser!) and professionalism are questionable, and his workrate not exactly huge, he does have the ability to change a game with one act of brilliance, as I’m sure you’ll remember from last season.

It’s going to be a tough game, but one we should be able to win, and boy do we need a win right now!

Spitting hard for Reds to swallow?

The aftermath of our match with Port Vale seems to have taken a negative twist, with bad feeling surrounding the furore that kicked off after Husbands’ sending off for his challenge on James Perch. On the one side you have Vale protesting it wasn’t a red card offence, which should be easily determined by video evidence – but the referee was close by and didn’t hesitate, and it looked nasty from where I was – plus strikers are hardly renowned for their ability to go in for tackles well, are they?

On our side we have the defence of Perch – who I must say doesn’t strike me as the kind of player to play act. From picking up knocks playing football myself, I know full well that adrenaline can mask just how much pain you’re in for a considerable time when you’re ‘fired up’ – it could easily account for him getting up to remonstrate with Husbands before having to take the weight of his leg again…

The reaction of sections of the Port Vale fans was allegedly so bad that Neil Harris ended up getting the joy of a random Stoke denizen spitting in his face – which is wholly disgusting, and should certainly be punished. But all this detracts from a fine second half Forest performance, and one we should be focusing on to take into our game with Swansea City on saturday, and if we thought the Vale fans were dominated by small-minded chavs then wait ’til our Welsh ‘friends’ arrive!

The result of all this is that Forest are apparently making a formal complaint to the football league about the standard of stewarding at Vale Park which enabled sections of the home support to behave in a threatening manner to the coaching staff and substitutes. Should make the visit of Port Vale at the City Ground

Unlucky Reds made to settle for a draw… again!

Port Vale – 1
Nottingham Forest – 1

It was a nightmare to get to Vale Park thanks to some rather inconveniently placed traffic congestion en route, not to mention the rather misleading directions courtesy of the AA website, but upon eventually making it to the ground, it didn’t take long for the game to be underway; and it wasn’t to be the best of starts for Forest who were caught napping somewhat by Port Vale. To compound my misery my camera seems to have died a miserable death as well!

Pretty much from kickoff the ball reached Constantine, who wasn’t closed down at all, so he unleashed an absolute pearler from what must’ve been 40 odd yards. It had Paul Smith well and truly beaten, hitting the post before falling invitingly for his strike partner to stick in the net. It could only have been about ten seconds into the game. This left the Forest support and team somewhat subdued for the next 20 minutes or so.

We began to come into the game in the second half, and started to threaten a little more – and the Forest fans started to wake up a bit and get behind the team a bit, as well as taking the chance to take the piss out of a be-ponytailed Danny Sonner. It was on 33 minutes that we got the equaliser – a corner and finally a goal for Breckin, we’ve missed his input from setpieces, although this was a scrambled affair, it looked like a rebound he was able to kick into the goal.

We finished the half strongly, and I think it was Perchy who had a chance that he put over when it looked easier to hit the target. Aside from the bizarre image of Danny Sonner attempting long range efforts, Port Vale didn’t really seem to come too close to threatening, in the second half Commons seemed to feel the urge to emulate this!

The next action of note was the Vale scorer, Husbands, appearing to go in two footed on Perch for no apparent reason – the ref was quick on the scene with the red card and bedlam ensued. Vale players and fans alike exploded at decision – Perch got up at some point and nearly started a rumble – eventually, as he was subbed off for Southall clearly injured – he was booked! Crazy!

It was very much like the Tranmere game sounded at the death of the game – Colin had been pretty positive and made attacking substitutions, with Lester and Harris introduced at the expense of Agogo and Grant Holt, but we couldn’t seem to get the final break. We appeared to come close on another corner, and Commons hit a screamer at the bar, only to then blast a direct freekick over shortly afterwards – but ultimately it was to end up a disappointing draw given the balance of play and chances.

That said – with 4 games, no wins and one goal, it just goes to show how shit this league is that we’re still on top of it – I can’t tell you how relieved we were to hear that Tranmere had ended up drawing, as at half time they were winning and it looked like we’d lose that top spot. I think maybe now we’re suffering the backlash of the good luck we started the season with, we’ve been unlucky not to win our last two games, whereas in previous victories we’ve been incredibly fortunate. If we can carry on playing like we did at our best today, and cut out the silly mistakes and slow starts, then we’re going to annihilate somebody soon!

And if nothing else, the journey back was less of a nightmare than the journey there thanks to a good old road atlas!!

Port Vale vs. Forest preview

Forest of course are still unbeaten away from home this season, following the weekend’s draw at Prenton Park with Tranmere Rovers.  However, with two points from the last nine available, we’re hardly sitting pretty on the top of the league at the moment, failing to score in the last three games.

Port Vale were keeping us off the top early doors in the season, but have since faltered a bit, losing at home to Bristol City at the weekend, with a poor record of five defeats in their last six league games.  They did have a positive interlude of a cup victory over Queens Park Rangers.

Grant Holt’s calf injury that saw him start on the bench at saturday apparently hasn’t caused any lingering problem, so will be pushing for a starting place.  Commons managed half an hour at the weekend, with no problems so will again have a place in the squad – it’s unlikely he’ll start though, given his lack of match fitness.  Port Vale boss Martin Foyle was less than impressed with their performance at the weekend – suggesting he could replace any of his players following a poor second half performance.

Despite Vale’s recent collapse, Constantine and Sodje are always dangerous up front, so the defence will need to be on their toes to deal with them – so having Curtis back in the side to give our defence a bit of experience will be a real bonus.  Last season we did the double over Port Vale, fingers crossed we can go half way to repeating this feat tomorrow night!

Forgotten hero: in memory of Peter Taylor

It’s probably fair to say that in life he was often in the shadow of Brian Clough, and the same can certainly be said of him in death – but I think it’s high time the contribution Peter Taylor made to the great history of Nottingham Forest is more readily recognised, certainly by the club itself.

When the Executive Stand was renamed the Brian Clough stand, of course only a fool would argue against such an honour being bestowed upon the greatest manager the game has ever seen, I would have preferred the ‘Clough and Taylor’ stand – the stand itself was built in the early 1980’s and is a very real monument to the achievements of both men.  The first stand to have coloured seats to spell out the name of the club in the country, and has proven a template for many modern day stadiums until we entered the flat-pack wraparound age.

Taylor worked with Clough right from his days at Hartlepool, and indeed met him when both were still players at Middlesbrough.  He was a calming influence in the dressing room to Cloughie’s fire, he was a peerless scout and ultimately an essential piece in the Forest jigsaw.  I reckon most fans old enough to remember his time here with Clough readily acknowledge his value to the operation, but the club seem to almost deny this due to the acrimonious nature in which Taylor and Clough parted company.

Taylor retired as Clough’s assistant in 1982, only to return to management 6 months later at Derby County, and as if to rub salt into the wounds,  he took prize asset John Robertson to Derby from Forest.  The aftermath of this resulted in Clough not speaking to Taylor again.  Taylor died in 1990 whilst holidaying in Majorca.  Clough attended the funeral, and later dedicated his autobiography to him.  Whilst Clough did have a secondary great side without Taylor, it’s clear he was never able to reach the heights he did with his second in command alongside him.

So when you see the Brian Clough statue in Nottingham once it is in place, spare a thought for his right hand man, without whom I don’t think the great Brian Clough would have been quite as successful.  When Forest redevelop the Main Stand (which won’t be for some time, since a precursor for this is being established in the Premiership!) there are tentative plans for a better memorial to Brian Clough, I would urge the club to also suitably acknowledge the contribution of Peter Taylor. 

I can visualise a statue of them both, perhaps holding a European cup between them, as we’ve seen on so many photographs in our history books, that would be an imposing sight on entering the gates at the City Ground for any team bus coming to face us!

No goals in three games, but still top!

It’s slightly concerning that we’ve not hit the onion bag in three games, yielding only two points from a possible nine, but I’m not too worried just yet. The Oldham game was woeful, and we deservedly lost, but against Carlisle we missed a penalty, could’ve had two more, and both Grant Holt and Neil Harris did beat the keeper only to be found offside and guilty of a hand ball respectively.

Against Tranmere we left our best chances very late – but reportedly we played much better, and as well as bringing a number of top saves from the Tranmere keeper we also had an effort cleared off the line, and hit the bar with the last action of the game to boot.

But the most pleasing news I’ve heard from eye-witnesses at the game is that Sammy Clingan had a decent game, which is great as he’s been off-form lately, and by all accounts Julian Bennett put in a man of the match performance against Chris Shuker – I remember Shuker when he played for Barnsley, and he played a couple of blinders against us, so all credit Jules for keeping him quiet, and hopefully this will give him confidence after a few difficult performances lately.

Curtis returning to defence has undoubtedly helped stabilise us at the back, and Commons getting some pitch time will give us much needed balance and creativity in midfield – I’m almost excited now! Port Vale have fallen away in results lately, so hopefully we can build on yesterday’s performance and get a much needed three points on tuesday, and then get a bumper crowd in for the visit of the always-interesting Swansea City on saturday.