Forest stroll to easy win against lacklustre Cheltenham..

Nottingham Forest – 3
Cheltenham Town – 1

Hot on the heels of the win against Carlisle, Forest have equalled their best run of the season with two consecutive wins – with the opportunity to get to the magic three against Bristol Rovers. Despite going on a goal down due to slack defending, Forest eased to a comfortable win against a side that looked every bit the relegation-fodder their league standing could suggest.

The first moment of excitement came courtesy of Kelvin Wilson, who ambled forward in a characteristically casual manner without being closed down, before unleasing an absolute pile-driver from about 40 yards which the Cheltenham ‘keeper left late to tip over the bar. Forest struggled to break down the away side who defended in numbers, but eventually a combination of Agogo and McCleary teed up a chance for Ormerod which was well saved – McClearly getting a header on the rebound which was just over.

Forest were starting to look much more comfortable, without wishing to labour the point, the almost 4-4-2 formation gave us both balance and outlets to play the kind of football we’ve seldom seen from the Reds lately. Agogo again – still somewhat lacklustre in his demeanour (but a lot better than other recent games!) – came close with a shot from range that was just wide of the post.

Just as our defenders were taking a snooze from boredom, Cheltenham took a shock lead – basically it was a route one effort with the ball reaching Steven Gillespie who was able to stroll right down the middle of the penalty area between Wes and Kelvin, scuff his shot which then went in off the post, prompting some actual noise from the very quiet travelling Cheltenham fans – although even when behind, the feeling in the crowd wasn’t negative, and didn’t really get a chance to be…

Because it was only five minutes until we would get the equaliser – Morgan threw the ball quickly to Clingan after some sustained pressure, Clingan crossed excellently to the strangely-unmarked Agogo in the six yard box who expertly chested the ball down and swivelled to half volley the ball powerfully into the goal. Forest continued to press, and Clingan was unlucky not to score from 20 yards with a powerful volley which was saved by the out-of-position visiting goalkeeper.

Bennett was substituted for Commons after some lengthy treatment (although he did come back on and go sprinting after the ball after this!), with Cohen eventually slotting into the left back position and Commons into midfield. Increasingly we started to see McCleary switching position to get involved, so he would pop up on the left or the right as well as making moves into the middle, and as ever, Commons rarely stayed on the left either.

The lead was taken right before half time, a McGugan cross was well headed by McCleary but unfortunately for him, it rebounded from the crossbar and fell kindly to Luke Chambers who was able to shift his position well to crash the ball into pretty much an open goal with the ‘keeper prone from his attentions to McCleary’s initial effort. It’s the second time in a week Chambers has capped off a lucklastre performance with a goal!

Cheltenham started the second half reasonably brightly, their one real dangerous looking outlet was Gillespie, who was close from long range at the start of the half. Forest were to cash in, Agogo picked up the ball deep and beat his marker with a cheeky nutmeg before heading goalward, rather than pick out the pass to Commons he shot from 25 yards or so with his left foot, curling the ball beyond Higgs in the goal to give Forest the comfortable lead their performance merited.

Cheltenham did have other chances though, largely due to slack defending – a Gill cross from the right wasn’t closed down well by Cohen as a makeshift leftback, and in the box Vincent was able to win the header which it looked to me like Smith tipped onto the bar. As the game went on Forest were content to hog possession, and whilst there were a few other chances, they were fairly tame efforts.

With twenty minutes remaining McCleary was substituted to a deserved standing ovation from the City Ground crowd for another youngster Mark Byrne, a rather diminutive midfielder who could have had the perfect start to his debut. Chambers passed well to him, his first touch was to chest the ball down into the penalty area getting himself with a clear sight of goal, his second touch was to volley the ball just wide of the goal – he probably had more room for another touch than he realised!

Whilst we had one short bloke arrive on the pitch, former Forest loanee Alan ‘Mini-Me’ Wright was withdrawn to a round of applause from the Reds fans, which I thought was a nice touch. The final change was the ever-hard-working Ormerod who was replaced by Emile Sinclair. After the substitutions had settled, Agogo had the best chance he was likely to of completing his hattrick – heading excellently from a Commons cross, but Higgs got just enough of a hand on it to concede a corner.

Cheltenhams last chance fell again to Gillespie – Chambers headed back to Smith weakly, and Gillespie had anticipated this and ‘loitered’ to intercept, but as he bore down on goal from a tight angle he was only able to drag his shot wide of both Smith and the goal. The final source of amusement came from watching Mark Byrne – a pretty small fellow – shoulder-barge a Cheltenham player into the advertising boards.

So a good professional (aside from some defensive lapses) performance from the Reds, the stats start to speak for themselves – 69% possession, 10 shots on target, 10 off target – it’s just a shame that Carlisle rallied late to get a win, which all but mathematically probably secures them promotion. Can you believe Scott bloody Dobie got the winning goal in stoppage time, too? Typical or what?

I really hope that Smoulderwood has realised how much more adept and progressive our play is when we have wingers on the pitch, there were a few fluctuations of formation with Ormerod in particular frequently in winger-like positions, which I don’t really see the benefit of, but all in all, this was a massive improvement tactically from the manager. We must also remember that, with all due respect, Cheltenham did not prove to be particularly challenging opponents.

Certainly McCleary is looking like a real prospect, and has definitely earned serious consideration for starting in future games – his willingness to run at players is refreshing for us, and terrifying for defenders which face us. The home crowd today responded to this positive football with more noise than we’ve heard for a while now, which was great to hear and join in with – so well done lads, a cracking win, now let’s have some more!

9 Responses

  1. Seems Agogo’s not so ‘bob’ after all.

  2. Judging by the commentators Forest could have had more goals against a very weak side but hopefully they are saving their energy for tuesday night as I’m sure they will face a sterner test than today.Still well done for collecting another 3 points..Keep it going !!!!nice to see Agogo on the score sheet again.

  3. Thats true, Alan. We had plenty of chances but often lacked the killer touch or their keeper made good saves (esp. Agogo’s late header). I also noticed that Agogo seemed desperate to score his hat-trick goal and often went through on goal, deviating to one of the corner flags, rather than passing to one of his better placed teammates. All in all a good performance, and the best that I have seen for a while! Come on you reds!

  4. You have me confused nffc… Who was “lacklustre”, Cheltenham or both our scorers? lol
    Thanks to the “uninterested” Agogo for scoring two and to Garath McCleary for taking the bull by the horns. Now let’s beat the Rovers to get even closer to the “other” Rovers!

  5. Definitely Cheltenham who were lacklustre… although most of the Forest team never really got out of second gear, they didn’t need to!

  6. McCleary HAS to be considered as a regular 1st teamer after his display. He used the ball well and does look dangerous, not bad in the air either.

    I said a while back that McCleary has flair and confidence, and finally he started a game. I hope the ovation he received at CG echoes in CC’s mind when picking his next 11.

    Go on McCleary, make a name for yourself!!!

    A welcome 3 points, let’s keep it going til Tuesday at the very, very least.

    CG sounded eerily quiet on Saturday, not unusual I know, but again disappointing that songs re: Derby always seem loudest or is it just my imagination?

    At the end of the day I’m very happy at the 3 points, improved performance and CC displaying some fresh faces into the fray.

    U REDS!!!!

  7. Oh yeah! Bloody Scott Dobie!

    As much as it pains me to say, his goal was a smart finish.

    Lucky swines!!

  8. We’ve won three consecutive league games on two occasions already this season. Both of those “runs” were interrupted with a cup defeat inbetween but if you only look at league games then we have won 3 on the trot before.

  9. Oh and nice report nffc, made all the more welcome as I’m in Germany and had no internet access on Sat so couldn’t follow the game at all.

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