A scrappy victory heralds Forest’s first win of the season!

Port Vale – 0
Nottingham Forest – 2

We’ve finally gotten that win we’ve craved, in a scrappy and awkward game against Port Vale this afternoon.  The first goal came within the first three minutes, a Cohen corner flicked by Grant, and put into his own net by Edwards under pressure from Chambers.  The final goal came with only a couple of minutes of normal time remaining, Luke Chambers on hand to bury a header from a Commons cross.

And boy did we need it – the fact that the game was a scrappy and unentertaining affair doesn’t really matter at all, the result was all that counted – we have had games where we’ve performed well and not gotten the results, so perhaps a reverse of that scenario today is some kind of ironic karmic response from fate – who knows?  But after dipping briefly below the relegation cut-off point, we’re up to mid table!

Smoulders made a couple of changes, and positive ones at that (on paper, at least), dropping Commons for Tyson, and dropping Clingan for the newly-fit Cohen.  In this I felt sorry for Sammy, who has done well for us this season – I was surprised he didn’t push him to the right, dropping Perch to the bench for Cohen.  I can’t say I have much objection to providing Commons with a reminder that he can’t coast to a place in the side automatically.

Despite the comfortable looking scoreline, we should remember that Paul Smith made three good saves – one in the first half, two in the second – all of which prevented equalisers.  Not to mention a strange lapse from the ‘keeper who claimed the ball before bowling it into the back of the referee, from which Whittaker was only able to chip the ball wide of the goal with Smith well out of position.

Commons was introduced for Tyson in the second half, Nathan had a quiet game largely because the ball never came to him – but upon taking the field Commons did start to make a difference, so perhaps the ignomity of being dropped to the bench will stir him into the kind of performances we know he’s capable of.  Sammy and Dobie were introduced later for Agogo and Perch, and this is perhaps the period that heralded the best spell of the game for Forest.

A win, though, is a win – and boy did we need one today, without a Derby match in the Premiership to laugh at this weekend we needed some good cheer, and some points on the board more importantly! We’re now up to the dizzy heights of 14th in the league table, with a game in hand on many teams that may be sufficient to put us into the playoff zone – given that game in hand is against bottom-placed Oldham, things could be looking up!

E-I-E-I-E-I oh! Into the relegation zone we go..

And so it came to pass, a 3-0 win for Leeds United over Bristol Rovers, two more goals for Jermaine Beckford, and Forest find themselves looking up at Leeds from the last of the relegation places.  Now of course, everybody below Leeds has a game in hand, ourselves and Oldham have two, coupled with the earliness of the season, it’s not remotely time for panic stations.

However, psychologically it’s not a particularly good place to be – and if ever we needed a win both to ease those psychological concerns, but also to ease the pressure that is not insignficant on both players and certainly the manager at this time.  Historically Port Vale has been reasonably happy hunting ground for us, and it’s high time that elusive win came to kickstart the season for us.

Rumours of Smoulderwood being under job pressure perhaps don’t seem beyond belief right now, if – for example – Rotherham had stormed past us in terms of points with fairly minimum effort after their 10 point deduction, then you can imagine that questions would be asked – so the fact that Leeds have done just that (admittedly, Leeds are a more challenging prospect than Rotherham!) perhaps raises eyebrows more than normal given the very unnatural barrier of somebody starting with negative points.