Scrappy win puts “the A word” back on the agenda…

Nottingham Forest – 1
Luton Town – 0

Unusually Smoulds summed up the game this afternoon quite succinctly.  He said we didn’t create much of not in the first half, played well in short spells in the second half, and that ultimately the result was much more important than the performance.  Pretty good summary, really, it was a frustrating afternoon which was decided by the hardworking Nathan Tyson, who worked hard whilst receiving the kind of service that NTL customers are more accustomed to.

Chances in the first half were limited to a decent Commons curling shot which gave us a corner courtesy of Luton ‘keeper Dean Brill, an off-the-line clearance from Breckin after a corner.  Then after around a half hour pause of turgid and laboured football again Commons shot but weakly, before another corner brought a half chance that Cohen volleyed wide.  Hutchinson played a cunning game with Tyson, holding on to him just enough to get away with.

The talk of using wingers was obviously a media smokescreen by Smoulds, because we didn’t in the first half – however with Brett Ormerod being withdrawn due to illness for Garath McCleary, there promised to be more creativitiy in the second half – immediately hugging the right touchline and putting a decent cross in which evaded Tyson, waking up the crowd somewhat who were quiet, and not particularly numerous, despite a decent following from already-relegated Luton.

Other highlights of the second half largely featured Bennett, who made an excellent Cruyff turn and then a stepover (the latter for no apparent reason) when surging forward, before being poleaxed and losing the ball, Benno also put in an absolutely heroic block when former-Reds target Matthew Spring looked an absolute dead cert to score after the ball broke to him in the box after some rather shoddy defending on the part of the Reds.

We finally took the lead after excellent work by Commons took him past two Town defenders before crossing towards McCleary.  Reports I’ve read suggested he headed across goal aiming for Tyson, but I suspect it was just a poor intended goalbound header, either way, after several attempts the tenacious Tyson was eventually able to spanner the ball into the net much to the relief of the crowd – a well deserved goal for him after a tireless performance.

Luton wilted, playing merely for pride they basically stopped trying for a spell – Sammy Clingan had a good effort from range from a corner which was just wide, however, Forest too were starting to play lazily and letting the visitors back in it.  Spring unleashed a powerful shot which wasn’t hard for Smith to stop, but he couldn’t gather it, the ball ended up with Emanuel who also brought a save from the Reds ‘keeper.  At the other end Cohen had a shot deflected wide.

Commons was withdrawn with about five minutes left for Lewis McGugan, and immediately from a corner Wes Morgan was unlucky when Brill was able to tip his header over the bar.  He again had to make the save from Tyson after McCleary had done really well to find him with another cross, after which Tyson was withdrawn for a deserved ovation (tinged with celebrations in some pockets of the ground who’d discovered Southend had scored) for Thornhill, and that was pretty much it.

Of course, elsewhere Carlisle were busy losing and Doncaster were busy drawing – which puts us within just three points of automatic promotion with two games left.  Personally I think it’s too late to be thinking about that, but if you let yourself for a minute it is a tantalising prospect!  Certainly it will make checking results compulsory during next weekend’s trip to Hartlepool assuming of course that we can do the business in our own games.

I noticed early into the game a ‘Calderwood Out’ banner in Capital One corner – which seems a stupid thing to be unfurling in the run-up to a likely playoff campaign.  Clearly many fellow fans felt the same as it was roundly criticised by the fans around there until it was withdrawn.  That said, a fair number of those fans who rightly pointed out we should be backing the team no matter what at this stage of the season presumably were also the ones who booed the team off at half time.  Silly people.

All in all, an uninspiring performance but an invaluable three points potentially – to be honest, the only players who really stood out today were Bennett (not always for good things, but that’s just who he is!), Tyson who worked his arse off, McCleary offered us a different outlet and James Perch looked more comfortable than he has in a long time in the holding midfield role – so hats off to them, the rest of ’em, must try harder in subsequent games!  You Reds!