A bitter-sweet point against the table-toppers..

Nottingham Forest – 0
Swansea City – 0

I’m not in as good a mood as I ought to be, really, considering.  Swansea City showed in spells tonight why they’re where they are in the league, and I don’t think it’s unfair to say that Forest matched them for the most part – and indeed, definitely created more clear-cut chances (as, arguably, you would expect of the home team).  De Vries in the Swansea goal was in superb form, sadly for us!

Smoulders started with his infernal 4-5-1 nonsense, with Grant starting on the right wing, Commons on the left, and Tyson in the middle cutting a lone figure.  The three of them swapped roles throughout the first half, leaving us exposed on the flanks as we’ve seen quite often.  How I long to see him play people where they’re more effective, although at times tonight we did look quite good.

The first half was a classic ‘end to end’ encounter – both sides looking more comfortable in attack than when defending.  Swansea undoubtedly started the stronger, with Forest taking a while to get into the match (possibly linked to Swansea going in very late pre-kickoff and actually delaying the start of the game slightly after the Reds had warmed up as usual).

The first meaningful attack fell to the Reds though, McGugan played the ball to Commons whose dangerous cross flashed across the six yard box, evading the Reds players in the box (there was probably only one of ’em, but let’s be optimistic!).  Shortly after this Wes almost headed the ball beyond Smith, but it was heading wide and the defender got back to make sure at the expense of an early corner.

Swansea broke quickly, and in numbers – and their quick inter-passing often left our defenders chasing shadows, however struggled to create clear-cut chances.  Their first chance was from the excellent Andy Robinson who shot low, but pretty much straight at Smith who had a relatively easy save to make. Robinson had the next chance too, again Smith making relatively easy work of it diving to his left.

Forest started to build some momentum and pressure, McGugan did well to force a corner from a diving De Vries.  Shortly after this another corner was won when Painter did well to prevent Grant from shooting.  Possibly the best chance of the game followed when Grant turned and shot firmly from close range, prompting a superb save for the Jack ‘keeper.

Swansea countered this with an effort from Bauza which Smith needed to be on his toes to prevent, and this prompted further pressure from the away side – with Robinson again the threat, but Smith once again able to save.  Forest went back on the attack, and again Grant was denied by a superb save from De Vries after good work from McGugan.

As half time approached the game ebbed and flowed from end to end, Swansea applied pressure without creating clearcut chances, and Forest started to push forward.  However just as they’d started this, Swansea attacked with menace, forcing a foolish foul from Morgan on the edge of the area which Robinson struck well, but wide of the post.

Half time saw a parade of 250 members of the 2nd Battalion Mercian Regiment (part of whom were the Sherwood Foresters), who received a suitably great reaction from Forest and Swansea fans alike having returned from a six-month tour of Afghanistan.  It was great to see, and handy to know there were a load of soldiers on hands incase the away fans kicked off – that said, those that visited seemed pretty good humoured compared to their perhaps, on today’s evidence, ill-deserved reputation.

The second half was a scrappy start, and whilst Swansea still looked menacing coming forward I got the sense their foot was off the gas slightly.  Chambers did well to get down the right and find Commons, whose cross was heading perfectly for Grant Holt to connect – unfortunately the eager Matt Thornhill connected first, and was only able to direct his header wide.

Smith was able to claim the ball just infront of Bodde, after a decent ball from Robinson again.  Shortly after this a strangely positive substitution from the manager saw Emile Sinclair introduced for the increasingly-tired-looking Matt Thornhill.  Shortly after this Lennon was introduced for McGugan – who struggled today, it’s fair to say.

Tyson had a lot more time and room to get closer when he stabbed a rather hopeful long-range effort which was never likely to trouble a chap on the kind of form De Vries had been showing today!  The game was fairly scrappy and Swansea were content to keep possession and probe gently for openings, which weren’t forthcoming.

Towards the end Chambers got a header on target from a Commons cross, but it wasn’t firm and again was fairly easily dealt with – and the final play of note was excellent work from Tyson down the bye-line, playing the ball just behind Holt who arguably should have halted his run to give himself more goal to aim at – but t’was not to be.

So a frustrating game on some levels – Swansea are undeniably a very good side, and compared to the opponents I’ve seen this season worthy of their place atop the league.  We had chances, but I don’t think we made it easy with an isolated front man – for a formation that should give us width in midfield, our flanks looked worryingly exposed and the excellent Robinson was often left completely unmarked in his position on the left wing.

However, a draw is a decent result – and probably fair.  Forest had more chances, but Swansea had more quality in possession, and certainly had a few chances themselves.  Doncaster winning puts us down to third, and effectively puts the title out of range for us – in my opinion.  It now becomes vitally important that we start to fix our away form – starting with Bournemouth on saturday.

So I feel a bit grumpy, and feel a bit silly for that – it’s true that had I been in Smoulderwood’s shoes I would’ve been tempted to chuck Davies on with five minutes to go, indeed, if I were Smoulderwood I would perhaps have fielded him on the right wing and actually played a 4-4-2 formation since we had the personnel for it, but I’m not he – and I can’t really justify getting on his back after what was, in spells, a very decent performance.

In his post-match comments he finally confirmed that Garath McCleary has actually signed from Bromley.  He spoke of his need for acclimatising to training full time, and building fitness up – unsurprisingly.  He described him as a talented winger who – upon attaining fitness – will definitely be the running for first team consideration, so that’s something to look forward to I suppose.

So well done Reds, another day De Vries would’ve just missed out on one of those super-human saves he pulled off – but alas, t’was not another day, so we must content ourselves with a point.  At least Leeds and Carlisle lost – now is the time for us to start sorting out our own results though, we’re not going to remain so lucky with results elsewhere!

8 Responses

  1. Another superb match report! After sitting in the rain tonight for what was a credit to lower league football (21,000+ attendance on a Tuesday night), I think full credit has to go to Swansea. They are deservedly top of the league & their passing was superb. I can’t help but think we would do better keeping the ball on the ground rather than repeatedly hoofing it to the opposition defense! It’s all getting a bit tight at the top, but I guess we have to stay optimistic……….Keep up the good work – great site.

  2. Spot on with this report NFFC. Some great defending by both sides, though Forest’s formation (once again!) failed to get the best out of the players. I thought at times we really could have done with Cohen driving through midfield and the inexperience of Thornhill and McGugan was clear. Swansea look to me like they are a better side than Bristol and possibly Scunthorpe were last season and I think that they would be doing very well even in the Championship. The quality of their passing was very good and they broke into attack so quickly.I can see why they have scored so many goals and it is a credit to The defenders that they kept the Swansea attackers limited to such few good chances. With Cohen and Aggogo in the side I think we would not be far off them, particularly if the manager played 4-4-2, but I think we have got too big a gap to make up on them for the title now. Still, we are 3rd in the league and are as well placed as any of the teams below Swansea to challenge for 2nd place. Most importantly, the team and management must not get complacent after decent performances like this and fail to turn up for the Bounemouth away game coming up and other fixtures like it. If they do that they will finish in the playoffs and bye bye championship football for a long time yet.

  3. I agree, Swansea have been the best side to play at the City Ground for some time (including us!). Although we certainly matched them in the first half (once we’d got going) I felt they could have scored at any time, frankly. Scotland was superb, no-one seemed to be able to get close to Robinson, and eventually we reverted to type – long hoofs up to the lone striker. Thornhill didn’t disgrace himself, but he was a yard off the pace as the game wore on, but Lewis had a shocker. Although to be fair he was due a bad game, he’s played well enough for a youngster to be forgiven a bad one.
    And that’s where our problem was; midfield. Cohen has had his knockers, but last night proved that without him and Sammy in the middle we struggle. Once Agogo returns I think CC needs to realise that we have just GOT to play 4-4-2, especially at home, or it’s all over for another season.
    Incidentally, it sounded to me that Calderwood will play the young lad from Bromley in 3 weeks time judging from his post-match comments. Should be interesting, especially if we also get Best and Robson, and Junior arrives back at the same time!

  4. I thought first half both teams sat through a spell of pressure. I really thought the 2nd half was shite to watch though, proper let down, bar a few chances here and there.

    Still, if its going to be second place, last night wasn’t a bad result, and its nice to think that’s the toughest we’ll come up against for the rest of the season – and we’ve proved we can deal with it.

  5. To be fair I thought it was a very entertaining game played at a high tempo by two top teams. Swansea very good going forward and our defence was superb, Wes was magnificent. May have been a different result if we had shown a little more composure with some of the chances we created (Tyson).
    One thing bothers me though, the biggest game of the season with a bumper crowd and the City Ground was like a morgue at times. I think we (the crowd)let the players down last night. We should have lifted the roof for 90 minutes, instead we sit in silence ready to moan/groan/abuse any misplaced pass etc. We supporters need to raise our own game for the remaining part of the season and leave the negativity for the forums.

  6. I renewed my Forest World subscription at about 7.20pm last night to listen to the game and was reasonably content with what I heard (apart from John McGovern, who insisted on referring to Swansea as Leeds all night!).

    Like you NFFC, I came away from the game disappointed that we couldn’t snatch the three points, but when put in perspective – Swansea had won 10 of their last 11 and destroyed Doncaster away on Friday night – then I think we should be very happy with the draw.

    And given last night’s other results I am actually more confident now of taking the second automatic promotion place.

  7. […] through old match reports, he didn’t warrant much mention for our game with Swansea in 2007/2008, however by the time we reach the QPR game in 2008/2009 certainly I point out some issues with […]

  8. […] through old match reports, he didn’t warrant much mention for our game with Swansea in 2007/2008, however by the time we reach the QPR game in 2008/2009 certainly I point out some issues with […]

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