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Salisbury City vs. Forest preview (FAC)

Sunday sees Forest take a trip down to Old Sarum, just to the north of Salisbury itself, to take on Salisbury City.  Salisbury City are in the same league as Yeading, who we demolished 5-0 in the previous round – although they sit proudly in 3rd place on the Conference South currently, so should prove a slightly more challenging prospect than “The Ding” in the last round – particularly given it’s at their place, and will be infront of the BBC cameras.

So we can expect over-excited coverage, much mentions of our illustrious history and patronising false praise for the small team from f**kwits like Mark Lawrenson!  It will be a full ground, with Salisbury selling out the home tickets quickly, and Forest issuing the last few tickets not snapped up by Away members and season ticket holders for general sale this afternoon – even with only around 350 Forest fans, I imagine they’ll be able to drum up a bit of an atmosphere.

As well as an impressive league record, Salisbury have yet to concede an FA Cup goal this season – and whilst I’m sure their defenders are relishing the prospect of facing our myriad of strikers, I imagine they are slightly nervous too!  I hate the patronising “biggest game in the club’s history” crap, but the fact is, it probably is – with a record attendance of 2,700 expected to attend the game.  Let’s hope they’ve ordered in enough Bovril, apparently their ground is somewhat open to the elements!

Forest, as we know, aren’t on a bad run – we’re still on an unbeaten run as far as I’m concerned, since we only succumbed to a penalty shootout last night against Bristol City.  I expect Smoulds to field a strong side against Salisbury, with Smith a doubt owing to a slight injury, but Cullip and Agogo are expected to make the squad – whether they start or not remains to be seen.  Ultimately, I would expect a spirited resistance from Salisbury but we really should have the quality to overcome them.

Of course, the reward for the victor is a place in the 3rd round draw with the big teams – and the chance of getting one is bigger than ever, since for the last two seasons there have mysteriously not been two Premiership teams drawn together in the 3rd round of the FA Cup – an accident?  I think not!  That said, a “big” team could constitute Sheffield United or Watford, call me deluded, but that doesn’t really excite me a great deal!

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Forest linked with QPR midfielder..

I forget whether it was during the terrible reign of Kinnear or the terrible reign of Megson that we were first linked with Marc Bircham, I suspect Kinnear – but he was certainly an exciting prospect of a signing then.  Apparently QPR have yet to offer the midfielder new terms, and his contract is up for renewal in the summer – and both ourselves and “dirty” Leeds United have been linked with a move for him during the transfer window.

The 28 year old was a firm QPR favourite, before getting oddly frozen out by previous R’s manager, the appropriately named Waddock.  John Gregory is in charge now, and had restored Bircham to the side – and given him the captain’s armband but now he’s sidelined with a hamstring injury – so if nothing else, we could get him to keep Cullip and Agogo company on the hamstring treatment table!

Despite their poor position Leeds remain a strange lure to players – but with a bit of luck he’d prefer to sign for a side on the way up with progressive manager rather than a side on the slide with a midget lunatic in charge of them.  It’s thought that if a move is made in January it would be for an initial fee followed by an additional bonus if we were to attain promotion.  He used to dye his hair silly colours too, which could have been entertaining, except he doesn’t seem to any more! Boo!

Johnno reflects on retirement..

This fairly long interview on the BBC site is a really good read.  I’m usually quite quick to put the metaphorical boot in on David Johnson; whilst I concede he’s given us some great moments to cheer, in one particular season, he’s also given us more seasons of frustration and not fulfilling his potential.  But I must admit, whether it is deliberate spin or otherwise, I found myself warming to him reading some of his comments.

There is a very potted summary of his playing career, as well as his foray into coaching – which interestingly says Steve Chettle is involved in our under-12’s!  I never realised Chetts was still involved with us in any way shape or form, and find it slightly pleasing!  Johnson is largely working with the academy and doing a fair bit of scouting of opponents, with an aim of getting a permanent job with Forest – and potentially leading into management.  Whilst it’s all interesting, the nicest bit to read was his take on Forest now and the future:

“Obviously they are doing very well being six points clear and I see the players all the time, but I don’t know how they are playing as I’ve only watched them twice this season.

I can tell you about any other club in League One because of my scouting, just not Forest!

But the players are buzzing and saying it’s the best things have been for years, they love the manager and they love playing for him which is the most important thing.

Hopefully the manager will be able to bring in some silverware and then get the club back in the Premiership in a couple of years time because that’s where it belongs.

If we can keep this squad together and add a few more if we get promoted this season, we could end up doing what Manchester City did a few years ago and get back-to-back promotions.

We’ve fallen behind, that much is clear, but things are definitely heading in the right direction.”

And of course, he will always get good credit from Forest fans for coming out with:

“But the highlight of my career was captaining Forest, to think I’ve captained such a big club is a great honour.

So too was winning their Player of the Year award. You look at the names who have won it before, the likes of Roy Keane, Stuart Pearce and Des Walker, it’s a great feeling.”

Forest bow out of bad paint job..

Whilst the Reds are naturally disappointed to have exited the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy at the regional quarter final stage, there is perhaps a glimmer of positivity in the stated aim of Smoulderwood for us to never be involved in the much-maligned competitition again!  I was quite against the idea of the possibility of the JPT sharing space in our more illustrious trophy cabinent, but I must admit it did win me around for this season at least, and could have given some of our younger fans a taste of the kind of days out that we used to have in better times. 

Smoulds told the official Forest website: “We had a chance to go and win this competition, which would have been great because I’m hoping this is a competition we won’t have to play in again.  No-one will remember this is if we get promoted but I’m not going to start using that as an excuse.  We’re disappointed and you could see that on the players’ faces at the end.  We’ve got the consolation that we haven’t dropped league points ? but it doesn’t lessen the sense of disappointment in our dressing room at the moment.”

He’s done a pretty good job of reading the ‘sensible things for a manager to say in the light of a cup exit’ handbook before facing the media, or maybe he is just sensible, but his attitude here is pretty much spot on for me.  The cup gave an opportunity not only for silverware, or at least tinware, it also gave us an opportunity to give fringe players a run out – which allowed us to experiment as well as hopefully try to keep squad morale higher.

The other big positive to come out of the game was Wes Morgan getting a goal, after a series of good performances at the back, is nice to see Big Wes starting to show the promise he did earlier in his Forest career – and a gashed head wasn’t going to stop him either as he almost added to his tally on the evening!

It has also perhaps highlighted a need for us to work on our penalty taking; although Sammy and Nicky converted theirs – Grant Holt’s miss was a bit embarrassing – and well, Kris was unlucky as Basso did well to save it, so maybe it’s not so bad – perhaps Lester was up to take the fifth it it was needed, I reckon he would’ve spooned it into the Bristol fans 😆