Forest succumb to Gills smash and grab..

Gillingham – 3
Nottingham Forest – 0

A combination of wasteful finishing and some excellent goalkeeping from Simon Royce in the Gills goal meant that the sides went in on level terms at 0-0.  The second half started in Forest’s favour, but in a quick break forward a deflected shot meant Smith’s save was less than convincing, leaving a tap-in for a Gills forward.  Similarly, a clearance fell kindly to allow a strike from the edge of the area to be converted.

As Smoulderwood looked to his bench for opportunities to give Forest more opportunities, he would have been struck by the complete lack of them.  No striker on the bench, no Arron Davies, indeed – the change he did make to try to change the game midway through the second half was youngster Matt Thornhill.  There was talk earlier in the week of “easing” youngsters into the side – chucking them on to change a game somewhere like Priestfield when 2-0 down is not the answer.

The lineup was questionable anyway – four centrebacks lined up across the defence, it’s true that Chambers conversion to a rightback has been a good one, but Wilson early doors clearly forgot he was supposed to be playing leftback and drifted into his more customary centreback position, leaving us rather exposed on the left side.  Fortunately this mental slip didn’t last and he did eventually stick to his new position.

And don’t even get me started on this “four three three” formation that Smoulds and the radio describe.  It’s 4-5-1, and we all know it.  Grant, who sounded much more impactful today than he has been recently, is no right winger, and Commons won’t stay on the left anyway.  I realise that we’re short on strikers now that Tyson’s injured – but that is supposedly Grant’s position, and to have no striking option on the bench is criminal.

When you’re 2-0 down and your top scorer has a free header from four yards, which he puts wide, after excellent work from Commons – you know it’s not likely to go your way.  And perhaps arguably Smoulds would have a defence for his outwardly strange tactical selections had Sammy Clingan, Chris Cohen or Kelvin Wilson hit the target with decent chances in the first half, had Simon Royce not managed to make great saves from Clingan and Grant Holt.  One or two of those chances converted would have had us 1-0 up at half time.

Credit to the Gills, they have a decent record at home – but are struggling in the league, but they kept attacking, which inevitably leaves gaps at the back, and even when leading continued to lead the charge going forward.  They got a bit of luck in both goals, certainly – which we have lacked this afternoon – but it’s hard to hold much against them as we create chance after chance that is either spooned wide or well saved by the Gills goalkeeper.

The third goal also had a whiff of fortune about it – Kelvin Wilson putting a poor back header towards Smith, allowing the Gills substitute to nip and and put the game absolutely beyond doubt.  Not that there was a great deal of doubt anyway.  Cue the exodus from the away end, and who can blame the poor buggers who travelled down to Kent for this.  It’s difficult to pinpoint who to point the finger at – certainly Smoulds left no attacking options on the bench, but his initial selection created a myriad of chances that were not converted.

It has highlighted something that is not exactly new news, and that is that we need to get more striking options in.  Tyson shouldn’t be out for too long, but Agogo will soon be away to Africa for a few weeks after the Huddersfield game.  We also desperately need to convert our chances – this afternoon we had more than enough chances to have contested this game properly, certainly more than the home side – who managed to put away three of theirs.

The tiny bit of silver-lining visible on this very dark cloud is that we are already level with our best Christmas period in five years with 4 points, although given our traditional winter slump, this is hardly good news with things so tight at the top of the table.  Being subjected to ‘olay’ football by Gillingham, with all due respect, is not ideal preparation for what now is a MUST win game against Huddersfield for the start of 2008.

I rate the squad we have this season, with a couple of additions I definitely feel it is sufficient to deliver promotion – however, increasingly the more I think about it, the more I feel that Smoulders isn’t the man who will deliver it.  If he had the Chelsea squad I don’t think he’d deliver it, he’s clearly unable to field people in their proper position, he’s unable to motivate players and he doesn’t pick a bench that could – if needed – offer the necessary changes to turn a game back in our favour.

What’s even more infuriating – and I’m typing this whilst the game is still in play (I started at 2-0, which is why the third goal description looks like an afterthought!), I can picture now that Smoulders in his post-match interview will say something along the lines of “We can learn from this” – if he does, my radio might just find its way flying through my front window, because it’s the same old claptrap every time we end up with a disappointing result.

Ultimately today we have certainly had the chances – Agogo in particular has missed some absolute sitters, Cohen and Commons have overhit fairly simple throughballs, and when on the rare occasions we have hit the target we’ve found that Simon Royce has been equal to prevent them yielding goals for us.  It’s hard to blame the manager when so many chances have been created, but it certainly wasn’t like that on Boxing day, and hasn’t been in other games.

So oddly I find myself turning more against Smoulds, despite acknowledging that – aside from his negative bench selection – can’t really be blamed for the result today.  I am terrified what the January transfer window has in store for us – Mark Arthur, the perpetual truth-teller – was on the radio before the game saying something different to what he said just weeks ago, why do I get the sinking feeling that we’re going to let a key player depart and not replace them adequately?

Maybe I’m just in a grumpy mood – I’m certainly rambling because whilst Colin Fray is still manfully attempting to relay the events on the pitch to me via the radio, I’m not really paying attention as it just feels like game over.  And indeed, it now is game over.  Our last game of 2007 – and what a shit one, at least resultswise.  I’m not one to jump on anti-manager bandwagons, but I honestly cannot see Smoulderwood delivering us promotion – and if that’s the case, then surely he needs to go?

A happy new year to you all, let’s hope that we can have a better start to 2008.  I’m listening to the sides leaving the field, and the Forest fans are apparently applauding off the team – certainly effort and chances created seemed very much in the order we’d expect, but the finishing today let us down.  I would be very interested to hear how the fans who travelled feel the game went, as it can be quite misleading relying on the radio coverage.

Leeds losing at least keeps us in second.  God I’m grumpy!  Excuse my rubbish Photoshop effort, I thought it might cheer me up but it didn’t.  An odd afternoon, and perhaps the scoreline is the driver of this vitriol – as the performance, bizarrely, didn’t sound that bad.  Smoulds, to be fair, has said in his post-match comments that this game was a product of mistakes at both ends – he mentioned ‘we can look back’ without actually saying ‘we can learn from this.’  I bet he was thinking it, though.

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19 Responses

  1. Shocking result! Opportunity missed again for Forest. Definitely need a few wins now, otherwise we’ll be slipping off the pace. We aren’t showing promotion form at the moment. I don’t want to contemplate staying in this league any longer. Let’s wait and see…

  2. Pathetic.

    Pathetic starting XI, pathetic subs bench and pathetic finishing.

    Calderwood won’t take us up. The mere fact that were in 2nd is because we have a talented squad, nothing to do with him at all (credit to him/scouts for bringing the players in, though!)

    The constant mish-mash of systems and positions is ruining us. Kelvin Wilson, a right footed centre back, probably the best player I’ve seen in this league all season is forced to left back because he hasn’t got the bollocks to make a big decision by dropping his inept captain.

    Grant Holt, who (at best) is a lump of a target man. Certainly NOT a winger/free role man. A subs bench that offered no alternative attacking option at all is complete madness.

    The next few weeks will make or break him, a run of home games against teams in and around us should keep us up with Swansea (if we win ’em) and the opportunity to bring in a Striker(s)/cover on the wings shouldn’t be ignored.

    Sort it out.

  3. Yesterday at work I was talking forest with another Forest fan, our assumption was that we still feel we won’t get promoted, something is still missing and then it dawned on us.

    We both agreed that we have the squad capable to get promotion but we just don’t think the manager is upto the task. Something about his tatics, team selection etc etc.

    Why is it we still worry about what teams will do to us instead of them fearing us?

    Ok Oldham was our bogey ground but Walsall have gone and won 2-0 at boundary park today, we didn’t have one shot on goal did we?

    I have just watched the highlights of the port vale game and on another day we would have lost that, I didn’t realise how many chances they had.

    Sort it out Colin, play the right players in the right positions, play 4-4-2 with width and attacking wingers and play Two up front. If you are unable to do this then please leave. Funny how the best results and performances have come when playing the above,

  4. What did Mark Arthur actually say? I didn’t hear the interview. Did he imply someone was leaving?

  5. He didn’t imply anything – he wouldn’t confirm or hint anything regarding incomings or outgoings, aside from stating budget was in place for “the right player”. He mentioned cover for Smith, and that’s about it. Might be worth checking the BBC Nottingham website as they sometimes keep interviews on their for re-listening.

  6. Thanks NFFC, I personally don’t think that its realistic to think that Calderwood would leave/be sacked unless poor form continued for an extended period. In a way, the problem is that the poor form won’t continue for an extended period, but Forest will continue to be inconsistent but still pick up enough points to finish 3rd or 4th and be in contention for the automatic places right to the end of the season. As we all know, a playoff finish won’t be good enough as this set of players has proven time and time again that they lack the mental strengh to win pressure games and the manager has to date shown that he can’t sufficiently motivate the players for these games either. For this reason nothing less than an automatic place will do but unfortunately I can’t see that happening, which will probably mean another managerial change in the summer and another two seasons of rebuilding. Unless the right players are brought in during the transfer window, I can see Forest being stuck in this league for a long time yet.

  7. its very easy to jump on the band wagon after a result such as this but really my oppinion of Colin Calderwood has not changed i predict that not only will we not get promotion this season but while ever he is in charge we never will. we are a seasaw team that just cant hold results together and if you want promotion you need to be consistant. I would also like to add that whilever Nigel Doughty picks our managers we wont win promotion either my god what has happened to our team on paper one of the best in this league but whaen it comes down to the nitty gritty Forest just cant mix it very disalutioned red

  8. People think we Forest fans are fickle, second in the league and moaning. But the feeling here seems fairly unanimous.

    The reality is that the manager is a nice enough bloke but just has not got the required tactical awareness. I said after Yeovilgate that he needs removing and my opinion was still the same when we were top of the league.

    It is Deja Vu. Swansea are the best team in the league and will win it. Leeds will deservedly win promotion and we will lose to Yeovil in the playoffs.

  9. Deja Vu indeed, it is a weird scenario, we are 2nd but I think us fans are worried that we are showing signs of what happened last season, this is why we have so much anger towards CC.

    We have only won ten games this season. That is less than half of our fixtures. Just goes to show what a shite league we are in.

    With the players we have we should be walking this bloody league

  10. The better side won – we played our socks off today and deserved to win – how can you comment on a game that you listened to on the radio. I think that forest played better than for the same fixture last season (when Trigger scored the winning goal). I know there are problems at forest but you are a league 1 side and have been for as long as Gillingham. It is up to your players and manager to change that. I was expecting us to lose today – and I am over the moon with the win. Royce does save us – it is his job and he is one of the best keepers at this level. First goal was not Smiths fault – Crofts shot was very powerful and he could not hold it, which allowed Mulligan to score. Millers goal was a well deserved shot from 20 yards, Our 3rd was down to your defender being put under pressure and Griffiths punishing his pass – none lucky – all deserved. I know you lot are upset but we deserved this win. We had missed chances too – as did you, we just took some of ours better today

    You are probably going up this season, So will not have to put up with us next season – so good luck with the rest of your games

  11. I can comment on a game I listened to quite easily – it was just a matter of typing! But I do concede your views are more likely to be accurate, but of course viewed through a Gills-tinted pair of specs, just as mine are through Forest-tinted ones.

    I don’t honestly think a 3-0 scoreline can ever be entirely lucky, of course not… and I don’t begrudge you the points, nor feeling good about what by all accounts was a hardworking and solid performance.

    And finally, I’m not at all convinced we’ll be going up at all – we’re far too inconsistent. Well done for today, and best of luck for the season since we’re not going to meet again ’til 08/09 at the earliest…

  12. Like I said last year at exactly the same time…we are not going to get promoted, we have no strikers only Tyson and agogo and agogo is agoing to be away a lot now and Tyson is an injury prone wannabe.

    At least we won some games this year again, as I said last year if we go up we aren’t going to win sh!t…

  13. There is not a lot wrong with your team other than woeful finishing and a one dimensional manager. We did deserve to win today (but I would say that!) but it could of been 3-4 to you so easily! I was at your place in septemeber when we lost 4-0. We were lucky not to lose 12-0 and if it wasn’t for Hooters and your great nightlife I would of been phoning the samaratons up !! You guys can look forward to a playoff position or even a top two finish.. Maybe just maybe if we can go on a run we can get up there as well??? Hope to play you again next season.

  14. Well in all honesty, based upon the vision of CC I’d not be surprised to see us end up outside the playoffs. Given the “hopes and aims” of the club rather than the “we are serious about promotion are you?” media balls up last year I’d say hopes and aims is a fairly accurate window on the minds that run our football club. CC needs to be issued with a P45 asap for bringing the game into disrepute, and the name Nottingham Forest. We are fed up of watching defensive football! would you seriously pay 25 quid to watch 4-5-1…its dire.
    I actually believe that Tyson, regardless will leave Forest, he’s an attack minded player, he can’t feed of scraps. Commons etc will also leave March (Once of course they are clear the club is going nowhere) Who then can blame them? Yeovilgate? CC has learn’t nothing!

  15. Have I read that correctly? Wilson played at left-back?? So CC clearly doesn’t rate Lockwood, and hasn’t got the balls to drop Breckin. Wilson is easily the best center-half in this division, and we conceded fewer goals WITHOUT Breckin in the side earlier this year and Lennon just in front of Wes and Kelvin. So it’s easy Colin; Smith, Lockwood, Wilson,Wes and Chambers (thats a back FOUR) with Sammy and Lennon flanked by your pick of Cohen. Commo, Davies and Perch (again, FOUR. And by the way, any combination will be the best this shite division has to offer) with Tys and Agogo up front (TWO).
    Spend wisely, bring in Eastwood who can’t get a game at Wolves and Sharp who can’t get a game at Sheff U.
    Promotion assured, along with my season ticket renewal.
    Happy new year!

  16. I thought that Forest shaded the first half but failed to capitilise on the chances that came their way. In the second half we battered Forest and when the chances came put them away whilst forest squandered their chances and had royce to get past who was superb. Overall it was a good game to watch if you were a neutral, hard to watch if you supported forest and great to watch if you supported the gills so for me it was a great way to end what so far has been a depressing year, and this win will hopefully spur the gills on to better things in the new year.

  17. It’s odd how there are no comments here when we win and loads when we lose.

    The fact of the matter is we have not had a consistent striker at the club since David Johnson, and he only managed it for the first half of that amazing season he had.
    He never fired a shot in anger after Christmas that year though.

    I am still relieved not to have bought a season ticket this year. The highs and lows of jubilation and frustration would be giving me post-traumatic stress.

  18. It’s not odd at all, Patrick. It’s just human nature I’m afraid.
    You are very fortunate not to have bought a season ticket this year. I did, but the entertainment served up has been of such a poor standard I very much doubt I shall again if we don’t go up. Calderwood just hasn’t got to grips with having the most talented squad of players in the division at his disposal.
    Apart from a few odd halves the players have played either out of position or worse still as though they don’t care. And that is the Managers fault.
    He already had some good players, and he was allowed to buy the best of the rest. So when he plays one up front at home, or a slow ‘target man’striker out on the wing, or the leagues best center-half at left-back (and the leagues other best at right -back) and we can’t manage to beat the likes of Oldham, Gillingham or Northampton, well, it’s fucking depressing quite frankly.

    Mate of mine goes to all the Leeds games, and he reckons that for 80 minutes they play route one crap but for the last 10 go for it and score a late goal. The big difference here though is that the Leeds fans get behind their team for the whole 90 minutes. It starts with the PA getting the crowd going, something our man certainly doesn’t do!
    Maybe our expectations are too high?

    Still, thank heavens for the t’internet and clever souls like nffc for giving us a platform on which to vent our frustrations!

  19. It’s true we probably get more comments upon defeat, but it’s a rare story indeed that gets no comments at all, which I am enormously grateful for!

    If we are thinking fondly back to times when David Johnson lead the line, then times truly are bleak 😦

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