Holt’s gone to Blackpool…

… and not, as you may have first thought, to work on the beach alongside the other donkeys – he’s actually gone to play football there ’til the end of the season on loan.

Okay, so the inevitable Blackpool donkey jokes are out the way, it’s been a difficult time for Holt under Smoulderwood.  He attempted to sell him to Brizzle, he dropped him randomly when he was scoring goals, and this season he’s been playing him as a winger – clearly a fairly solid way of either saying “I don’t understand football”, or “I don’t like you very much.”

Grant has compounded this with not particularly inspiring performances when he has made it onto the pitch, and of course the infamous “shop window” comment he made when the possibility of playing Liverpool in the cup was on the media’s lips earlier in the season.  Coupled with rumours of fall-outs with the manager (including some attributing the black eye Smoulds was sporting recently to him), it was inevitable he’d be off sooner or later.

So it’s a bittersweet farewell, really – for the best, certainly, for us and him – as for whatever reason it wasn’t working for him here.  There was a time I thought very highly of him, an ‘old fashioned’ centre-forward with an eye for goal, but we’ve seen little evidence of that recently – whether it be through lack of effort or form, or Smoulders’ baffling tactical deployment of him.

No doubt he’ll slot into a strikers berth at Blackpool and start scoring again, as players generally do upon leaving us – that said, I do think his level is around about where we are now, so he might struggle up in the Championship where Blackpool currently nestle in the middle of the table.  So farewell, Grant – I wish you neither fortune nor malice.

We only need ten men!

Northampton Town – 1
Nottingham Forest – 2

No matter how much I like to kid myself that I’d rather not be watching or listening to Forest when they’re playing, the experience of being away from Nottingham, out of radio signal, without Sky Sports and without a mobile signal was a nice reminder that – like it or not – this is a huge part of my life that leaves me out of sorts when it’s made unavailable to me.

Forest started well in the wind, and had the lead after a mere eight minutes afer a low cross from Cohen was expertly despatched into the net with a side-footed finish by Brett Ormerod on the back post.  I could’ve been two as well – a Clingan cross finding Tyson who unfortunately headed wide.  Tyson came close again, being set free by Matt Thornhill only to have his shot blocked by Little.

At this point, a text message snuck it’s way through the backwaters:

Contrary to earlier grumbling, we’re winning 1-0 thanks to Ormerod from close range again – we’re absolutely all over them at the moment and have had other chances.. will keep you posted..

Reassuring words when cast asunder in the middle of nowhere, and pleasing too that it’s not just me who doesn’t abbreviate my text messages!  However, of course, any seasoned Forest fan will know that if we’re doing things right, then it can be rest-assured that the referee will do something to throw a spanner in the works – and Rob Styles did just that moments later.

Perch entered a 50:50 robust challenge with soon-to-be Northampton goalscorer Hubertz, both players throwing themselves into it, Styles clearly seeing something nobody else could because Perchy was given his marching orders – Sammy and Benno were booked for their continued remonstrating (which, in fairness, they shouldn’t be doing, regardless of how baffling the decision). Cue another text message…

Well, just when it seemed things were going so well.  Perch has been given a straight red for what sounded like a fairly innocuous tackle!  Sounds like it’s all kicking off big style – Bennett & Clingan have also been booked for remonstrating with the ref, and CC was on the pitch to confront him too!

Three minutes later a much harsher looking challenge by Gilligan on Bennett only warranted a yellow, probably the right decision in isolation, but considering his earlier harshness with Perch, a definite case of double-standards from the card-happy official.  The seemingly inevitable equaliser came from a throw-in which Hubertz converted via an overhead kick to get the Cobblers level.

Perhaps inevitably, Northampton have already equalised.  Somehow I can’t imagine the Reds getting anything from this game – so, are you coming to Tranny then, next month? 

With the extra man Northampton finished the stronger in the first half, Akinfenwa looked dangerous but fortunately Bennett was on hand to keep him in check, and Hubertz was less than accurate with subsequent chances that fell his way, shooting first over and then wide much to our relief.

The second half kicked off and Forest nearly pinched the lead immediately, Thornhill doing well to slip his man and cross to Tyson on the near post.  The striker didn’t have room to shoot so cleverly teed up Clingan whose shot from 20 yards rattled the crossbar.  Shortly after Thornhill was booked for arguing with the increasingly baffling Mr Styles.

Presumably mentally replaying his decisions over the course of the game, Rob Styles had developed some sympathy for Forest who he’d given fairly short change to over the couse of the game – Tyson was through and was brought down by Bunn, who was booked – Tyson picked himself up and slotted the penalty home confidently, sending the ‘keeper the wrong way in the process.

2-1 to the Reds – Tyson from the spot!  Sounds like they’re pitching in with an absolutely heroic performance… they’re all over Northampton despite being a man down…

Ormerod was withdrawn for the welcome return of Commons with around 12 minutes remaining, and shortly after this Tyson had his characteristic “I’ve scored a goal so I nust be injured” hobble, leading to treatment and a quick replacement with Junior Agogo taking to the field.  Northampton had a late chance with a freekick, but it was straight at Smith, and Commons tried a cheeky shot from range which Bunn was equal to.

Two minutes of stoppage time were on the board, a Northampton corner was struggled to be cleared – finally big Wes managed to clear the danger once and for all.  As the weather worsened the home crowd departed in numbers leaving the celebrating Reds fans to herald the end of the game and a much needed three points, and perhaps a new sense of optimism – nah, don’t be silly!