10 man Reds battle to deserved win against 12 man Huddersfield..

Nottingham Forest – 2
Huddersfield Town – 1

There’s a few talking points about today, but obviously the upshot of the day is that despite the most apalling refereeing decision I’ve ever bore witness to, Forest rallied and attained a deserved victory.  Given our last result, and the results of the teams around us today, what should have been a fairly routine win against a very poor and unconfident looking Huddersfield side was hard work for the lads.

The first half started tentatively, Huddersfield encamped deep but chased down well – driving us to play the ball repeatedly between defenders.  Grant played Commons through who played the ball aside and was felled by a Terriers defender, to be fair, I think it would’ve been a harsh penalty anyway, but given what was to follow, in this clueless referee’s world it should have been a cast iron one!

Booth had a chance in the air, but fortunately it went wide.  Shortly after Brecks got on the end of a Commons cross/shot, but he could only direct his header straight at the ‘keeper.  Shortly after this again the Terriers had a chance from a freekick, Williams striking it well, but fortunately close to Paul Smith who was able to make a fairly routine save.

Good work from McGugan found Agogo out wide, and his cross in found Holt, but it was a fairly challenging attempt to head the ball – so he was only able to put it just over.  It was after this that all rhyme and reason left the game, I made a conscious decision to try to deal with this rationally in my write-up – but you may have to forgive the occasional expletive.

From where I sat, and this has been ratified by other reports I read, as well as folks sitting more ideally in the Trent End.  Wilson – playing at rightback – was under pressure from Kamara, but still easily goalside of him.  He headed it back to Smith, who duly collected it, at which point there was a three-way collision between Wilson, who had remained between Kamara and Smith, and the Forest goalie.  When the twat, sorry, referee blew the whistle I expected a foul on Smith.

To say I was dumbfounded when the referee pointed to the spot, and then sent off Wilson, is rather an understatement.  No matter what scenario we reconstructed after the event, there is no conceivable way that decision should have been as it was – Kamara didn’t appeal for anything, because nothing untoward happened.  The referee didn’t bother to confer with his assistant, he gave the penalty, sent of Kelv, and on another day would have condemned us to defeat.  What a complete arsehole.

Jevons made a good job of the penalty into the Trent End, sending Smith the wrong way in the process to give the Terriers a very controversial and ill-deserved lead.  Not that we can blame the visitors for the referee being a prize idiot, of course.  The final moments saw a good move from the Reds fall to Sammy Clingan who unfortunately blazed wide from the edge of the box, leaving us to go in at half time a goal, and a man, down.

The boos that rang out from the City Ground were all for the Anthony Taylor, there seems to be something written into Forest’s recent League One contract that we have to have the most clueless buffoon available to officiate our games – this time last year, you’ll remember we had the equally clueless Kevin Friend sending Sammy off for absolutely nothing at Oldham.  Fortunately this new year holds more promise, because we didn’t collapse as we did that day at Boundary Park.

Smoulds made a change at half time, sensibly replacing Neil Lennon with the more energetic Perch, who moved to rightback putting us into an almost 4-3-2 formation.  Huddersfield started the second half the stronger, showing perhaps the most positive play they did in the entire match, Booth had a great chance from close range but couldn’t get good enough contact leaving an easy diving save for Smith.

Forest started to get in gear, though, and increased the tempo of the game – whenever they took the game to the Terriers the visitors were visibly terrified, a side that I would suggest are very low on confidence despite at this point defending a lead.  We did look in danger of being caught on the break when going forward, however, as both Perch and Lockwood pressed forward to try to support the attacking play.

Cohen was brought on for Grant Holt – I had assumed that Smoulds made a good tactical move, as Holt had been remarkably ineffective – it turns out the striker picked up a knock.  It was to reap rewards though, Perchy and McGugan combined well on the right, and Lewis’s cross fell for Cohen to get past a defender before hitting a shot that deflected wickedly to loop over the goalkeeper and into the net to give us a deserved equaliser.

It was the substitute again who was this time the architect for a great chance for Commons, he crossed it in but it was a difficult volley which Krissy conspired to spanner over from about 7 yards.  Commons’ landing from this saw him limping on before being replaced by Arron Davies, so at least this week Smoulds gave himself some attacking options on the bench, eh?

In a rare foray forward Williams hit what looked like a speculative shot, but it was an absolute piledriver, from 30 yards – striking the base of the far post and almost falling for Booth, fortunately the striker couldn’t control it and it enabled Lockwood to get the ball clear of danger for the Reds.  Forest continued to pile forward, with Huddersfield often having all twelve men behind the ball (sic) despite their obvious numerical advantage.

The hardworking Agogo was unlucky to be denied by the keeper after curling a great effort from the edge of the box.  Shortly after this four minutes of added time was announced, which was greeted with cheers from the home fans who – like the home team – could scent blood from the weary looking visitors.  The winning goal, of course, did come – Clingan found McGugan in the box, who showed tremendous strength to hold off a defender whilst turning and lashing the ball into the top of the net.

Huddersfield responding by piling everyone forward, a late corner even saw their keeper up to try to get an equaliser, but the ball was cleared to Agogo, who was too knackered to put anything but a nominal effort into trying to exploit the unguarded goal from very wide on the right of the pitch, just in the Huddersfield half.  Eventually after Smith took a freekick the buffoon blew for full time, giving us a three very valuable points.

Before the game I would have said that three points was essential, but given the nature of the game and the results around us, a draw would have been forgiveable.  So I’m very proud of the lads today for showing such great fighting spirit in adverse conditions and delivering a win that they deserved, and can feel rightly proud of.  For the fans of Huddersfield I feel sorry, as their side lacked so much confidence in their ability it would have been painful to watch but for the fact we profited from it.

With Swansea and Leeds dropping points, it’s great for us to have capitalised on it for a change.  And finally Smoulders deserves some credit too, I rarely hold back on offering criticism, so praise when it’s due – he made the right substitutions today, firstly in Perchy and then Cohen and Davies – whether forced by injury or not (not convinced Holt was injured at all), they were pivotal in helping change the game in our favour.

So well done all, 1st January 2007 saw a ridiculous red card, this time for Sammy Clingan, and a 5-0 drubbing.  1st January 2008 saw a ridiculous red card for Kelvin, not to mention a ridiculous penalty which was converted, and a 2-1 victory for the Reds.  Is this a sign that this year is to be better than last?  I do hope so.  You Reds!