Playoff ticket considerations..

It’s that time of year when we need to start fretting about tickets for the playoffs, and indeed, when they might be – well, thankfully we have a bit more information on that score.  The provisional dates for the semi-finals are Friday 9th May and Monday 12th May for the first legs, with the second legs proposed to be played on Thursday 15th May and Friday 16th May.  I would have thought if we finished 3rd/6th we’d get the Friday/Thursday combination, with a 4th/5th finish giving us the Monday/Friday combination.

The dates are subject to change however, so make sure you keep a close eye on the Forest website for further announcements, as these days are subject to approval from all manner of people.  The kickoffs for these dates should be at 7:45pm.  The final is to be held at Wembley Stadium on Sunday 25th May and will kick off at 3:00pm.

The other playoff related news Forest have released is that they’ve worked on a system of prioritisation for getting tickets for the home leg, and the (dare I say it?) potential appearance in the final.  Forest will give prioritisation first to season ticket holders, then supporters who have attended six or more home games this season, and then priority will be for fans who attend either the Luton or Yeovil matches which remain this season.  So ensure you use your client reference numbers for any ticket purchases.

It’s given me the heeby-jeebies just thinking about the playoffs!

From dour to Dowie?..

Normally I wouldn’t hold much truck with rumours printed in the Sunday People, particularly not when it didn’t even seem newsworthy enough to make it onto their website – but (as has been pointed out in the comments), it does bear a bit of scrutiny..

Dowie set to be Cald into action at Forest

Alan Nixon, 13th April 2008
Sunday People

IAN DOWIE is the red-hot favourite to be the next Nottingham Forest manager – if Colin Calderwood fails to deliver promotion, writes ALAN NIXON.

Dowie has been out of work since splitting with Coventry.  The experienced and highly rated boss could take on Forest in League One shortly as Calderwood fights to keep his job at the City Ground.

There has also been talk of Sam Allardyce being in the frame.

Personally I find this pretty alarming, admittedly Dowie had a fantastic season at Crystal Palace – taking them from near the bottom of the Championship into the playoffs, during which his momentum hauled them up into the Premiership thanks to a win over West Ham at the Millennium Stadium, but well, meh – he’s not exactly done much other than that, has he?  And mentioning Allardyce as an afterthought seems odd too, I can’t imagine Big Sam wanting to operate down at this level again.

I wouldn’t normally give much credence to rumours from the gutter press, although I had heard whisperings prior to this report suggesting the same thing – not that whisperings are any more reliable, but cumulatively it can become enough to start to make you paranoid!  Interestingly the whispering suggested that Smoulds was destined to leave regardless in the summer – make of that what you will.

Certainly any anti-incumbent manager utterings I make are always tinged with the worry of replacing them, because frankly if one thing can be blamed upon Nigel Doughty and his direct reports without much fear of debate from any fans, and that is is managerial appointments.  So right now I’m hoping that Milan Mandaric starts flexing that uncomparable impatience of his, and sacks Ian Holloway and nips in and hires Iain Dowie before we get the chance.

Ruthless finishing sees Forest ease past Tranmere…

Tranmere Rovers – 0
Nottingham Forest – 2

In an unusually ruthless performance, Forest made Tranmere pay by converting their two chances on target this afternoon to grab a win that the home side would have felt was a harsh result.  Goals either side of half time from Nathan Tyson and Wes Morgan were enough to give Forest the win.  It doesn’t quite confirm our place in the playoffs, but it does make the cursed circus at the end of the season seem all the more likely.

Smoulds made five changes to the starting lineup, Bennett returned in place of Lockwood at left back, Breckin came in for injured Wilson, Perch replaced McGugan in midfield, Tyson replaced injured Agogo and McCleary started over Commons.  The team lined up in the familiar widthless 4-3-3 arrangement, with Perch sitting just infront of the defence.  Predictably this lead to the home side enjoying plenty of possession early in the game.

Forest did look occasionally threatening on the break though, McCleary did well to win the ball in midfield and play a quick ball into Ormerod whose turn was good, but shot was off-target.  Former Reds striker Ian Moore had the first chance for the home side, doing well to escape the attentions of Sammy Clingan before firing a fairly tame side-footed shot straight at Paul Smith from around six yards out – a real let off.

The next chance fell to Shane Sherriff who, despite attentions from Luke Chambers, managed to get a shot away, but it was across the face of goal and didn’t trouble Smithy.  The home crowd thought their pressure had rewarded them with the lead after 20 minutes when a cross found Chris Greenacre unmarked to slot the ball into the net with ease, but fortunately for us the linesman’s flag was already up to disallow the effort for offside.

Tranmere continued to press, and an excellent cross by Shuker was met by Moore – but his headed effort was easily caught and held by Smith.  Shuker continued to prove a threat down the right had side of the the Rovers attack, and crafted an opportunity to shoot himself shortly after this, with Perchy being in the right place at the right time to deflect the effort using his head to keep Forest’s goal unbreached.

Against the run of play Forest took the lead, and it was pretty much our first decent attempt of the game barring Ormerod’s earlier miss.  Chris Cohen played a tantalising long-ball over the top for Tyson to run on to, seemingly strolling past Kay before rounding the keeper and stroking the ball into an empty net from four yards out much to the delirium of the travelling Forest fans.

The home side should have levelled it straight after – Ian Goodison having time and space to head the ball goalward, but only managing to hit the sidenetting, and so Forest were able to reach the half-time break with a one-nil lead despite creating very little, and defending resolutely, giving them the crucial lead that, had other results gone our way, could have confirmed our place in the playoffs.

The second half set itself up to be more of the same, Tranmere pushed forward and Sherriff crossed well to find Shuker on the back post, but again it was met with a tame header that was pretty much straight at Smith in the Forest goal.  At the other end, a short corner actually worked (!), McCleary playing it to Cohen whose cross found Morgan at the back post to head strongly into the top corner of the net to give Forest a very unlikely 2-0 lead.

McCleary was withdrawn for Commons as Tranmere also made a couple of changes, and Forest started to look more comfortable in the game – albeit playing very defensively.  Tyson had another chance on the break, but elected to shoot from the angle – narrowly missing – rather than setting up Ormerod or Commons who were up and supporting his run.  Tyson is to be credited with not responding to the absolute battering he picked up from the elbows of Goodison throughout the game – which the referee deigned to ignore completely.

Rovers had one more real chance in the game, a diving header from Moore that went wide after a Greenacre cross, after which they struggled to create a great deal – and Forest didn’t really look like they were wanting to create much.  Matt Thornhill came on for the hardworking Ormerod and Forest finished the game in a 4-5-1 formation, content to sit on the lead they’d somehow gained over the course of the game.

So all in all, a lucky win on balance of play – Wes Morgan was brilliant in particular – but it’s one of those wins, at this stage of the season, that makes you think back to results against teams like Bournemouth, Luton, Millwall, Bristol Rovers or Walsall where had we picked up points there, we would still be in the running for automatic promotion instead of making do with finishing in the playoffs.  Of course, mathematically speaking automatic promotion is still possible – just very unlikely.

It’s good to see a ruthless performance in terms of taking chances as they come, two shots on target and two goals is as good a return as you can hope for.  A very relaxed referee today too, who ignored countless elbows Tyson received from Goodison, then went and booked a Rovers player for taking a freekick too quickly!  It was good to see Tyson’s red mist was kept in check though, and he continued to work hard throughout the game despite unsavoury attentions from the centreback.

So we’re back up to fourth, agonisingly we’re just 3 points behind Doncaster and just 6 behind Carlisle (who lost today to a – shock horror – late Leeds winner), but with just three games remaining we’ve left any hope of catching those two far too late.  With the day approaching when Leeds should find out whether or not they are to be re-awarded any of their points back, there could be a twist in the automatic promotion tale, but not for us, I fear.

Where is our motivation?

It’s come to that time of the year when football teams start to woo their supporters to get on board for another season of thrills and spills.  You have teams like Bradford offering ‘2 for the price of 1’ on season tickets, and other clubs around the country offering incentives in the form of discounts for those supporters committing to renew their season tickets for another season – it’s potentially an exciting time.

Of course, as Forest fans we’d know very little about this – because Forest never ever offer any such foresight.  Almost inevitably, there’ll be the usual nominal £20ish ‘discount’ for renewing that we can no doubt expect, we can also expect to not discover how much we’ll be expected to part with for another season until this one is finished.  Whether that’s purely because we’re still in with a shout of promotion.

That’s where it’s all wrong.  A sub 16,000 crowd – albeit on a tuesday night – should be a stark warning to the powers-that-be at Nottingham Forest, it is a portent that fans are ready to vote with their feet, largely due to the awful football being served up by Smoulderwood.  I know people who live locally with season tickets who didn’t attend, because they couldn’t be bothered – that should be setting some alarm bells ringing somewhere – yet why do I get the feeling that those that run the club would be less worried by this, since they have their money anyway.

Whatever the season ticket pricing policy is to be next season, it would be nice to know in advance what is to be expected of us – having sunk hundreds of pounds, nay, thousands into a series of disappointing campaigns (understatement!), it has started to fill me with resentment that I have to wait until the season is finished, and our fate is known, whilst mates who support other teams may have already signed up for next season for a generous discount.

The only communication we’ve had as fans from the club lately is Smoulders babbling in the Evening Post about the fans impacting on the players performance with their negativity.  Sure, I don’t like to hear the crowd booing either, Smoulds, but the boos are largely for you rather than the players – and I can understand why, you are tactically naive and you don’t understand how to get the best out of your players – you are a poor motivator, tactician and coach.

There is an earsplitting silence from a board-level at Forest lately.  It seems unless there are announcements relating to improbable 50,000 seater stadiums (let’s face it, keep going as we are we could demolish the Main Stand and still have spare seats), then Mr Arthur isn’t interested in communicating with the fans – I would like to hear him come out and speak about season ticket pricing next season, not sit on his hands and see if we somehow haul ourselves out of this league through the playoffs to justify a price hike.

It’s not a nice time to be observing Forest and writing about them, but I do feel we are reaching a watershed moment for many fans – further underachievement for high prices will see more and more fans turning their back on the club, and whilst I wouldn’t count myself in their number just yet, I can’t say I blame them.  We’re at an all-time low in terms of league standing, and the mood of the fans is starting to reflect this – we could do with some motivation from the powers-that-be.  Will it be forthcoming?  I won’t be holding my breath…

… while searching for a suitable image for this piece, I found this link, which made me feel even more miserable!

That’s why we’re staying down..

Nottingham Forest – 1
Bristol Rovers – 1

You could almost sense the moment when (contrary to a comment on the site earlier in the week) it occurred to Smoulds and the players that tonight was a chance to register three consecutive league wins this season – and it was then that we decided that we’d defend the hardly convincing looking 1-0 lead we’d amassed thanks to an excellent freekick from Lewis McGugan.  It’s infuriating.

When any modicum of pressure seems to be on, we wilt and make our opponents better, fill them with confidence until they inevitably triumph.  Or something.  That’s what it felt like tonight.  Tonight was a dangerous portent into the future – a sub 16,000 crowd, with a healthy away following for a tuesday night trek from the West Country, and scrapping for a point with a frankly poor opponent – who left the City Ground good value for a point.

The highlight of the evening was probably watching the knuckle-draggers from Bristol fighting with the police and stewards in the away end, as well as – of course – a rather special goal from Lewis.  The first half saw us with an unnecessarily tinkered-with formation, some kind of 4-3-3 widthless thing we’ve become accustomed to, despite looking decent in something approximating 4-4-2 in previous games.

In the first half we were relatively positive, our first chance fell to Chambers who connected without challenge to an excellent McGugan corner, with the Rovers ‘keeper equal to it to make the save.  Forest’s shaky defence gave Rovers their first chance, but it was simple for Smith to deal with – however, Rovers constantly exploited the left hand side of the pitch, with Chambers having a ‘mare defensively – looking, funnily enough, rather like a centreback playing at fullback.

Commons twice had decent efforts from range shortly after – the first from open play was well hit and curling, but not difficult for Phillips in the Rovers goal to save – and shortly after he had another go from a freekick after the once-again-lethargic Agogo was fouled – this was hit very well indeed and it was a cracking save by Phillips to concede a corner rather than a goal.

So when another freekick came up we felt we couldn’t expect another good strike – how wrong we were, as McGugan crashed the ball straight into the top corner from around 30 yards, silencing the knuckle-draggers below us who then proceeded to start squabbling with the police and stewards, which was somewhat distracting from the game.  The last chance of the half was an acrobatic volley by Commons after good work by McGugan, but it was never really on target – and was a difficult chance to take.

Half time came and Agogo – who had been limping slightly – was withdrawn for Garath McCleary, with Forest playing a kind of 4-5-1 formation, but still without wingers somehow.  Forest sat back, as is their wont, and we looked to have conceded the equaliser soon into the half, Chambers again was beaten by his man Haldane and after a scuffle Disley headed in, but from an offside position according to the linesman.

Rovers were starting to grow in confidence as Forest sat back and invited the pressure – although they struggled to create a great deal – Haldane could perhaps have done better with the next chance of the match which was a tame header straight at Smith.  The equaliser came just after the hour mark, a quickly taken freekick leaving Forest’s defence hopelessly unprepared as Elliott was on hand to loop a header into the goal.

They could’ve taken the lead soon after, Matt Lockwood gifting the ball to former Notts player David Pipe who teed up Andy Williams – who missed the target.  Forest did labour to get forward on occasions – particularly through McCleary who had a decent effort from range deflected wide, but looked pretty toothless going forward prompting chants of ‘Attack, attack, attack’ from the increasingly irate home crowd.

There were piecemeal chances for Ormerod, and Commons who did everything right ’til his shot in the closing moments, but Rovers held on against some pressure from the Reds in the closing stages to get a deserved points.  The home side had to content themselves to further boos from the home crowd and another missed chance to get an elusive three consecutive wins in the league.  Crowds of this magnitude probably won’t stand out as unusual next season if we fail to get promotion.

Unfortunately Smoulders didn’t deign to be available for interview before the radio stopped broadcasting sport for the evening, but it will be interesting to hear him explain what prompted his change in approach and personnel – with Commons available (and, to be fair, playing pretty well in spells) he could still have lined up in the same kind of formation that has worked for us in recent games, but alas, he has to piss about with it and change it.

Definitely a draw snatched from the jaws of victory, and it seemed to me that we had no idea how to go about correcting it – the game was pretty much summed up when, under no pressure at all, Kelvin Wilson – so often our Mr Consistent – couldn’t manage a 10 yard square pass to Matt Lockwood without conceding a throw-in.  All in all, a frustrating way to have spent an evening, which clearly a number of Reds fans could foresee and thus stayed away.

Could we lose Ormerod?

Preston are apparently in the midst of a striker shortage – Watford have recalled Tamas Priskin, and Neil Mellor has picked up a hamstring injury leaving the Lancashire side with only two fit strikers ahead of their weekend home match against Barnsley.  PNE manager Alan Irvine has suggested a decision won’t be forthcoming until the end of the week, meaning Brett will be available to continue his impressive run in the side tonight against Bristol Rovers.

This would be bad news for us, Ormerod has brought very-welcome workrate and experience to our relatively young side – he’s impressed me a great deal in his relatively few games.  Having said that, the silver lining is that Will Hoskins is again back at the City Ground, it’s not clear how long it will be before he’s in contention for first team action, but with Tyson and Davies too knocking on the door to fitness, perhaps it’s not a disaster.

Either way, I would rather have Brett on board than not – so with a bit of luck we’ll be allowed to retain his services – he brings something different to our front line, so let’s with Mellor good luck with his recovery from injury, or hope that Preston are able to get in an emergency loan or something.  Otherwise we might have to recall Grant Holt from Blackpool!

Larry Lloyd – Hard man: Hard game

I popped down to Arnold yesterday morning to pick up a copy of Larry Lloyd’s autobiography, “Hard man: Hard game” and get it signed by the man himself, since the local MSR Newsagent down there was running a signing session. It didn’t take too long to get to the table where Larry was dutifully inscribing messages into copies of his book, I’d never met him before and he was a charming fellow.

Even though I bought the book as a gift, I must confess to having a sneaky read of it last night – well, more of a skim-read – I tended to skip the Liverpool-related bits, but it was fascinating to read about Larry’s upbringing in post-war Bristol – one of ten children, with a father who had never so much as seem him due to blindness!  It was also nice to read of his elevation to the first team of his boyhood heroes Bristol Rovers.

Of course, shortly after this Bill Shankly plucked him from relative obscurity to play for Liverpool.  After being dropped he fell out with Bob Paisley as Shankly was retiring and ended up being sold to Coventry, shortly after which he picked up a back injury and fell completely out of first team reckoning before Brian Clough and Peter Taylor swooped to take him to Division 2 Nottingham Forest – and of course, on to glory.

What comes across loud and clear is Lloyd’s pride in both his achievements and those of his teammates, he said to me as he signed the book “We never forget those times either, you know!” – I told him I wasn’t lucky enough to have witnessed them in person, he called me a “poor bugger” – given his theorising about the nature of Forest, I can see why, he sees Forest as a team that spends decades in obscurity before burning brightly with an achievement (1898 – won FA cup, 1959, won FA Cup, late 70’s-early 80’s untold glory, late 80’s-early 90’s lesser Wembley appearances).  It would seem some of us may have some more time to wait for a bit of glory!

He covers the Hillsborough disaster from the understandable position of a fence-sitter, he was at the game as a commentator, and then – perhaps the most eagerly antipated bit of the book – he talks about David Platt.  It’s fair to say Larry doesn’t like Platt much, much like the rest of us!  I hadn’t realised that Larry was working for Forest in the PR team – indeed, when I used to occasionally write to Forest to get things signed they may well have passed through Larry to be sorted out – so thanks Larry!

He speaks of Platts’ profligate wastefulness in terms of the transfer money he spent, and intriguingly also of the detailed dossier Nigel Doughty had prepared on him before appointing him.  Platt wouldn’t let Larry into the dressing room to get a shirt signed (despite Platt requesting the shirt for some charity do he was attending!), and after a while Lloyd was told he was no longer needed by the newly arrived CEO Mark Arthur.

All in all, a really entertaining read – Larry comes across as the uncompromising and ambitious person he clearly was to have achieved what he did in the game, but also as a warm-hearted and family-oriented man who still retains a strong understanding and fondness for the fans and the teams he represented.  Well worth a read, and available probably from MSR Newsagents around the city, and also from the Forest Souvenir Shop (who also had a signing event later in the day), so you should be able to pick up a signed copy.

You can also definitely pick up a signed copy from The Southbank on the end of Trent Bridge, I’ve just been reliably informed, for a mere £17.99.  It’s a top read, so there’s no excuse to not avail yourself of a copy.

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!

Could it be tight at the top after the final league run-in?

Vassilis kindly sent me a table breaking down the run-in for the teams at the top of League One, which might help you try to ponder the likely outcome from our point of view come the end of the season.  It’s certainly suggestive to me that Swansea, despite their blip, have an ‘on paper’ run-in which should see them retain their place at the top – although there’s a few tricky away trips in there.

Carlisle have a tough run-in, although if they can rekindle their home form following their defeat at our hands on tuesday, then they’ll be laughing as they have four home games remaining them.  Indeed, Doncaster and ourselves are also enjoying home advantage in the majority of our remaining fixtures.  Certainly so long as there’s a mathematical possibility I can’t generally stop myself from trying to work out the permutations.

Leeds have four away games in their run-in, which could prove to be a tricky for them – although of course the appeal over their point deduction is due in a little over a week (I think), which could see them leapfrogging their way all the way into the automatic promotion spots depending on the outcome.  Which is one of many reasons it is critical we have a good run of results over the last six games.

The other interesting complexion on the league table is the sad crisis that Bournemouth seem to find themselves in, according to the BBC they are in serious danger of closure.  A quick bit of research on this suggests that should this happen, then their results would be declared null and void, meaning points won against them would be removed from the league table – which, perversely, would be good for our league standing since we managed a meagre one point from them over two games.

That said, I would prefer it if they were able to find a way to continue rather than gain a bit of ground at the expense of a football club going out of business – so personally I wish all the best to the Cherries in a tricky time, particularly since their administrator bears a disturbingly uncanny resemblence to sleazy former-MP David Mellor!

Will he make it?

A nice surprise today was to discover that injured-presumed-gone Will Hoskins has returned to training with the Reds, which is tremendous news, particularly given the fact that we still seem to be stuck with the imposter who returned from the African Cup of Nations up front at the moment, it would be good to have some decent competition for him.

Coupled with Tyson’s proclivity to get injured, some added depth upfront is going to prove a pretty vital ingredient to our run-in, and probable appearance in the cursed playoffs.  Hoskins has appeared twice so far for the Reds, and whilst he didn’t score he has looked skillful and a very useful addition to the team, so I’m thrilled we might actually see him in action again this season.

In other news, the Forest Reserves go on from strength to strength – smashing Oldham 6-1 today – even scoring the goal against us in the form of an own goal by Hamza Bencherif, the first goal being scored in a mere 90 seconds.  This is made all the more miraculous when it transpires that Oldham had Jesus on their team!

Back on to Hoskins, let’s hope Junior will give him his garish orange boots back!