Late strikes get Forest out of jail at Millwall..

Millwall – 2
Nottingham Forest – 2

If you lurked on any number of Forest message boards during the second half of this match, and I did, then the hysteria in text was a sight to behold.  Keyboards all over Nottingham have probably been worn out in endless tirades aimed mainly at Smoulderwood, borne out of frustration at being 2-0 down to Millwall.  It’s understandable really, given our recent form we needed a win tonight really – but under the circumstances I’ll take the point gladly.

Inevitably Neil Harris popped up to haunt us once again to make it two goals in two games against us since joining Millwall, in a half where Forest arguably had the better of play – but failed to convert their chances suitably.  For all his detractors, Smoulds was earning pre-kickoff praise for his restoration of Wilson to centreback, to playing a four-four-two formation (albeit without any wingers in the side – Commons and Davies both consigned to bench positions).

And for a while it looked like Smoulders had finally got something right, Sammy Clingan forcing an early save from an angle, Tyson heading over and Forest building the pressure on the home side throughout the half.  Tyson did well down the left and crossed to Holt, whose header wasn’t firm enough to trouble Evans in the Millwall net.  Millwall’s first real effort was a tame 20 yard effort from Forbes after around seventeen minutes which Smith had no problems with.

Forest went back on the assault, with Chambers connecting brilliantly with a Sammy Clingan freekick only to see his header rebound from the inside of the post onto the prone Millwall ‘keeper, and eventually scrambled clear for a corner.  Forbes again had a half-chance which he put over the bar from around the penalty.  Go to your message board of choice, and find some posts from people listening to the game, and you’ll see a plethora of compliments – then scroll to just before Cohen scores for us, and see fickleness in action!

Millwall, as we know by now, score first – and it’s pretty much against the run of play.  That said, we were partially architects of our own downfall as Perch executed a poor challenge in the D.  Neil Harris took the freekick which he curled expertly around the wall and into the top corner of the ‘net.  Why on Earth did we never see this side of him in a Forest shirt?  It’s not like he didn’t get plenty of pitch time!

This didn’t knock the stuffing out of the Reds though, who continued to forage forward positively – probably the most notable chance before half time fell to Cohen who was played through by Holt, unfortunately the midfielder was halted by an excellent last gap challenge by Senda.  So half time came, the Forest fans applauded the team of warmly and some spark of optimism remained in messageboardland.

The second half started with worries over Wilson who appeared unable to continue, but the defender shrugged off whatever was ailing him and upon leaving the field was keen to get back on.  Unfortunately, a mere eight minutes into the half it was 2-0.  A Bennett clearance went straight to Jay Simpson who was able to curl a shot perfectly beyond Smith and into the corner of the net.

Now enters the frustrating period of the game – it became a battle, and as we know, occasionally (heh, okay, often!) Forest can go missing in such conditions.  Holt was denied from connecting with a Tyson cross by Frampton, Clingan teed up McGugan on the edge of the area, but the midfielder was unable to hit the target.  Millwall still had life in ’em too – Smith was forced into a save from Forbes.

Arguably a bit late, it was about 12 minutes to go when Smoulders introduced Commons and Davies who replaced McGugan and the increasingly-harried-looking James Perch to give our side more attacking balance.  The pair immediately combined, but despite turning well Davies wasn’t able to shake off Forbes who was able to block the route to goal for the substitute.

The goal, of course, was to come though – five minutes remained when Clingan punted the ball forward to Holt, who managed to nod the ball down to Cohen who took a snapshot to put the ball into the left corner of the net from around twelve yards.  And with a mere two minutes on the clock we were level, again thanks to good work by Holt with his head – this time flicking on to Tyson who beat his man and thumped the ball into the bottom corner inside the penalty area.

And sadly, because we’re not Leeds, we were denied a late winner when the Millwall keeper Evans executed a quality diving save to deny Cohen a diving header from a dangerous cross by Chambers.  Tyson was close to getting onto the rebound, but sadly t’was not to be – and we must content ourselves with a draw.  Despite the inevitable euphoria of a late equaliser, it is a tad concerning that we’ve picked up so few points away from home.

So we have a break this weekend before the not-exactly-welcome visit of Swansea City next tuesday – given our lack of points away of late, it becomes vitally important that our home form remains, and that is going to prove a struggle.  Havant and Waterlooville aside the Swans are on great form and are sitting pretty at the top of the league – it certainly isn’t going to be easy, but then, Forest never make things easy, do they?

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10 Responses

  1. I know that I haven’t posted for a long time… but I am still enjoying the blog. Well done nffc. Needless to say I followed tonight’s game on the net and I was swearing like mad just wondering how on earth there can be grounds in which we have lost even before warming up on the pitch. Walsall is one, the Den is another. Even after Cohen’s goal I was fuming, then after Nathan scored I was screaming for a third! What do you reckon nffc, am I fitting the bill to be a typical Forest fan? Well in any case, well done lads for not giving up being 2-0 down after 85 mins.
    Two quick questionsQ
    1) Who was captaining the side tonight since Brecks was out? (for my records)
    2) I haven’t read anything on the official website about Dale Roberts joining R&D. Where did you learn that? And how can it be that he was on the bench tonight?
    Let’s give those Swans a good O’s-like plucking next week.
    U REDS!

  2. Hi mate! Good to have you back commenting!

    The Roberts official story is here:
    http://www.nottinghamforest.premiumtv.co.uk/page/NewsDetail/0,,10308~1222863,00.html

    He’s going there tomorrow as you’re quite right, he was in the squad tonight.

    I believe Kelvin Wilson donned the captain’s armband for us this evening! A good choice, methinks.

  3. Just commenting to say a great blog on the match, but i cant but help but feel very worried with our patchy (at best) away record… also i find it hard to believe James Perch played holding midfielder tonight, when this is Lennon’s best role.. and its difficult to believe tht dear old Lenny would do a worse job than Perchy..

    Now we just have to hope that at least two or three results go our way this weekend.. cos if they dont we could quite easily be in 6th place..and then things would certainly be getting a bit nervy!!
    UUUU REDS

  4. Thanks, and yes – it’s a VERY nervy time.

    I don’t quite understand what Smoulders is trying to do to Perch. He’s at the stage of his career where he needs to develop into a dedicated position – in my opinion, he should be a right sided fullback.

    If he keeps throwing him into random midfield roles as well as the occasional go at the position I feel he is best in he will damage the lad’s confidence, and we’ll see him end up like another John Thompson type of player.

  5. I was at the game tonight and although I was initially relieved to see Tyson and Holt both playing, the 4-4-2 formation I was expecting didn’t seem to materialise. It looked more like the 4-3-3 / 4-5-1 formation we’ve been seeing this season. We had absolutely no width and there was just not enough bodies in the box for the fruitless central balls that were being played though from midfield. Calderwood really messed this up again in my opinion. How many more crucial points are we going to lose because he picks the wrong formations? I’v been crying out for 4-4-2 with Davies and Commons on the flanks with the pick of the best two central midfielders in the middle and it took Calerwood until 78 minutes in this match to finally realise that this formation is what we need to do to really attack games and score goals. I know the goals we scored didn’t come from the wingers playing balls in, but we instantly looked more of a threat when Commons and Davies were on the pitch in wide positions. Its so frustrating because 1 point from 6 really isn’t good enough and we would have had 3 if the tactics were right from the start.

    Also, I feel sorry for Perch, he was not good at all today and I’m sure it can’t help him when he’s constantly being asked to perform different roles.

    Another point, after the initial decent play by Forest in the first 20 minutes, the heads went down afer Harris scored and we were second to every ball and lost every 50-50, losing possession all too easily on too many occassions. Millwall did play a physical game, but Forest need to match this if they are going to win away games, Calderwood can’t keep letting heads go down so easily. Having said this, credit to the players for coming back from 2 down, but I can’t help feeling that it would have been 3 points if the manager had just got the tactics right from the start.

  6. Is it just me, but every post on the forums seems to have an agenda against CC? Regardless of the formation/players picked/substitutions etc, someone has a pop.
    This blog is superb, nffc so please keep it up…but today…”Smoulders had finally got something right”…well let me remind everyone we are second in the league! so he must have got some other things right over the season so far?
    I know it aint over yet, but surely it is better to be on the shoulder of the leader as we come ’round the final bend 🙂

  7. There was quite a large portion of tongue in cheek with the ‘finally got something right’ comment 🙂 Although he continues to baffle me on occasions, it has to be said!

  8. I like Calderwod, he comes across well in interviews and I think that he would actually do well in the Championship with this squad of players. However, like most forest fans, I think that his approach to games is naive and confusing at times and that we will continue to drop points where we should have done better and that this pattern will cost us automatic promotion. No one believes Forest can succeed in the playoffs so the current form will just not be good enough. Don’t forget that Leeds have had a 15 point deduction, so in reality we are quite a way off both Leeds and Swansea from a points perspective and given that one of our games in hand is Carlise away this is very worrying. With the squad of players we have we should be in a far more dominant position in the league and should have won far more games away from home this season. I hope Calderwood does see us through the season and achieves a top two finish, but I am so fearful that we wil finish 4th and lose in the playoffs again.

  9. Went to Millwall last night, and well done for the fightback. I felt sorry for Perch his best psoition is right back, Calderwood will kill this players confidence if he keeps playing him in wrong roles. Where was Lennon? Not even on the bench!
    Great to see Bennet and Wislon in the team. Although Wes gives everything and has the fans backing he continues to look insecure, I would play back 4 of Perch Chambers Wilson and Bennett.
    I thought Clingan and Cohen worked very hard, Mcgugan is class but looked a bit tired.
    Holt and Tyson worked very hard, I know a lot of fans have a go at Holt but for most of the time (certainly away from home) the strikers live on scraps and have very few quality passes to receive.
    Why or why did Calderwood wait for 12 mins to go before bringing on Commons and Davies, these should have been on as soon as we went 2-0 down, unlikely as it seems we could have won that game last night, Milwall were there for the taking.
    Yes we are second, only because of the Leeds deduction. Forest are strong at home but the away form form will make or break this season, Calderwood needs to be braver and more attack minded in away games, for me, tactically he is very inept.
    Come on you reds

  10. It is the first really tricky squad selection CC has had this season and he gave the chop to all the experienced, older heads – the skipper got benched and Lenny and Lockwood didnt even make the bench. Credit to them for pulling back to earn a point but I’d have thought that CC would want some experience for Milwall away on a January evening!

    The writing must be on the wall for Lenny now. He came here to play and isn’t, so no doubt will move before the window closes.

    Also, did you hear Scott Dobie on signing for Carlisle? ‘Calderwood and I never saw eye to eye and he never gave me a fair crack of the whip’ etc. Not what I expected at all. It’s a bloomin’ good job he can’t play against us this season because he’d be Neil Harris all over again!

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