Lacklustre Forest pay the penalty..

Nottingham Forest – 2
Bristol City – 2
(Bristol win 4-2 on penalties)

Might as well start by getting the cliches out of the way; now is the time to concentrate on the league! Scathing as I was back in the early stages of this competition, I am a bit gutted to see us exit it, hopefully in the last time we’ll ever be involved in it. Of course, on a slight cliche tangent we can also hope that, as one of our promotion rivals, Bristol will go on in the competition and in so doing take their eye off the league, much as Swansea City did last season.

Smoulders was dressed like the ‘Milk Tray’ man for this game, and he took time out to talk with the barrel-like Gary Johnson before the game started. Bristol certainly started the brighter of the two sides, Forest looking very disjointed with an adjusted lineup of Pedersen in goal, a back three of Morgan, Breckin and Bennett, a midfield of Southall, Clingan, Gary Holt and Perch, and Lester, Grant Holt and Tyson up front. Whether it was taking time for the different lineup to get used to one another or other it was unclear, but Bristol certainly dominated possession – although only had a couple of long range efforts, and a scramble, all dealt with easily by Pedersen in the Forest goal.

It was in stoppage time in the first half that Wes Morgan broke the deadlock somewhat against the run of play – Clingan put the ball in, and Breckin headed on for Wes to put it into the net. It’s also worth mentioning that the referee (and linesman) missed a blatant penalty when Tyson turned brilliantly to get past a defender before getting felled in the box – bizarrely the referee opted to give a penalty to the away team for shirt pulling! But still, we were up at half time, and arguably had been the poorer side of the first half, so can’t grumble too much. Plus Derby were losing to Ipswich.

Early in the second half Grant unleashed a thunderbolt from range which the Bristol keeper did well to save; but it was due to go wrong soon after. Wes was ordered off the pitch for treatment to a gash on his head after a collision with Showumni – so whilst he was in the treatment room presumably being stitched and bandaged, Bristol scored an absolute humdinger of a goal. They had us under sustained pressure and finally the ball game in from the right, and the clearance reached Jevons who unleashed a spectacular overhead/bicycle kick from around 20 yards that left us with little chance. 1-1.

Wes came back on sporting a big bandage (reminiscent of Collymore against Notts County back in Frank Clark’s first season!), and almost got a second after a cross from Southall – only to be thwarted by Basso in the Bristol goal. It was Bristol who’d break the deadlock again, by breaking forward and taking advantage of some very slack defending. Showumni sidefooting in a square ball from Myrie-Williams again leaving Pedersen little chance to stop it.

The restless crowd started calling for the introduction of Commons, and he came on 10 minutes after Bristol had taken the lead – for the hardworking but increasingly-less-involved Nathan Tyson. I’m pretty sure Dobie came on too just before Grant Holt volleyed home a Southall cross to equalise for Forest – again, I was quite surprised when this happened as we’d looked bereft of ideas or purpose. Despite this we came close to nicking it when Bennett seemed to have gifted Grant Holt a perfect chance, but after controlling well he put it over from close range, and it was full time.

The penalties were taken at the Bridgford End, infront of the 161 travelling carrot-crunchers; Jevons was up first for Brizzle and scored, Grant took our first, and after a bit of gamesmanship with Basso he lost out, he started his run up before the whistle, thus hesitated, and put it wide. Carey took the next penalty, which Pedersen saved well, allowed Southall to level it for us by scoring. Orr scored their next one, Commons took our next which he blasted well – Basso doing very well to palm it onto the post, leaving McAllister with the unenviable decisive penalty, which he duly despatched to win the game for Bristol.

Penalties are never a nice way to decide a game, particularly given our record with taking penalties this season! But to be honest, whilst they didn’t create many chances, Bristol had much more play than us and were probably marginally the better team on the night (although both teams played below their potential); hopefully, as I said above, they go on from here and let the competition distract them from the league. If I had to pick our win over them in the league, or beating them in this cup, then I’d pick as it has actually happened – and I’d take this defeat for a win at their place later in the season too!

A few sources of amusement over the course of the evening – we saw a steward that looked like a ‘sprite’ from the ‘Sprite’ soft drink adverts, and one (male) steward who looked like a post-operative transexual, and there was an amusing incident with one ofthe chavs near us heckling Gary Johnson’s son (one of Bristol’s players) by simply shouting “Oi! 33!…” (he looks around) “… MIDGET!!” after he’d been substituted and was warming down. I suppose the midget had the last laugh! 😆

All in all, disappointing but not heartbreaking – as Smoulds said on the radio on the way back “We can concentrate on the league now, but not use that as an excuse for tonight” – he acknowledges there’s areas to work on, can’t argue with that. He also alluded to a few players carrying slight knocks, including Smith (Back), Commons (ankle), Curtis (forgot!) as well as the hamstrung duo of Agogo and Cullip – so we might see a similarly changed team to face Salisbury on Sunday.

And bastard Derby won in the end!

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Salisbury tickets left for season ticket holders?

Forest seem to think there will be – the deadline for Away Members will pass tonight after our Johnstone’s Paint Trophy tie with Bristol City, and according to the Official Site, there will be between 50 and 100 tickets that will go on general sale to season ticket holders tomorrow morning from 9am – they will be sold on a first-come-first-served basis, and are likely to be snapped up pretty quickly!

Forest will only allow one ticket to be sold per season ticket holder, and will be recording the ticket numbers against that individual to try to prevent passing on tickets to other people – so they’re being pretty strict on it.  But it’s good news for those fans who weren’t away season ticket holders or away members who wanted to go – I counted myself among those until I factored in seasonal finances and a forthcoming trip to Bournemouth next week, so given the televisual opportunity to see the game, desptie being very tempted, I think I’ll give getting a ticket a miss.

Strange chants: part eight

Since ’tis the festive season (despite still being November – let’s face it, if you go by the average shop in town then Christmas starts in August anyway),  I thought it would be amusing to recall a festive chant, that I must admit I’ve not heard in a while – it amuses me as both an atheist and in the irreverent randomness of it – I mean, who thought to combine a Christmas Carol with a football chant?

“Away in a manger
No crib for a bed
The little Lord Jesus
Looked up and he said….

WE HATE DERBY!
AND WE HATE DERBY!
WE HATE DERBY!
AND WE HATE DERBY!

etc…”

A work of sublime random genius, in my humble opinion, and given the time of year hopefully we will hear it dusted off at the City Ground or on our travels some time soon – of course, the other notable member of our canon of seasonal chanting is only appropriate for away trips, and relates to ‘Jingle bells’, and how much fun it is to see Forest win away – which is good fun too!

Former skipper: “It wasn’t right for years”

Spotted this article on the BBC website a while ago; a typically candid interview with former Forest skipper Gareth Taylor.  It is largely focused on his somewhat optimistic aspirations for Tranmere Rovers this season, but there are a couple of snippets of interest from a Forest perspective as well.

Gaz of course was loaned to Crewe last season before being released in the summer and snapped up by the nearly-Scousers.  And he speaks of his ‘desperation’ to prove himself at Championship level after what has to be considered a fairly difficult time at Forest – under several managers during the darkest spell in living memory for the club.

I always liked Taylor as a person, as much as you can when you don’t really know a player – but he struck me as honest, hardworking and forthright both on the pitch and during media contacts – but he was a frustrating player as well, and endured the scapegoating treatment from Forest fans as fiercely as many players over reason years.  He said of Forest:

“When you come away from a place like Forest, people are saying it wasn’t right at the club for years, not just while I was there.

“But it just goes to show what a fresh face can do because they changed things around, went on a great run at the end of last season and are now top of the table.”

He doesn’t sound too bitter, which is a testament to either his good nature, or his professional handling of the media given that it was inevitable Forest fans would read the piece.  I’m not sure whether I buy into Tranmere’s promotion credentials, but they’re certainly flying high at the moment – certainly I feel pleased to see Gaz moving on and doing okay, he wasn’t my favourite player by a long stretch but he was treated harshly by some sections of our ‘support’ whilst here.

I wouldn’t wish him too much luck though, I really don’t like Tranmere at all!!