A right Royal draw kicks off the season..

The Moose!  The Moose!  The Moose is on fire!

The Moose! The Moose! The Moose is on fire!

Nottingham Forest – 0
Reading – 0

The game started for me with the bizarre sight of the hideous child-scaring mascot Robin Hood abseiling from above the Brian Clough stand, accompanied by a few Royal Marines.  This was an odd start for what was an exciting afternoon to be back at the City Ground, but it was nice to be back for a league game, still feeling the residual glow from seeing the Sky Sports presenter make Paul Jewell look silly with ape-related comments (Paul Jewell said something like “We have to get this monkey off our back”, to which the interviewer said “It’s more like a gorilla, isn’t it, Paul?” – quality!

But before all this it was good to meet Vasillis for a pint before the game, a long-time commenter on these very pages.

So, the game.  Given the injury situation with seemingly all our attack minded players, it was predictable to see Earnie in a rather isolated position up front on his own, behind him sat Arron Davies in the ‘drifting’ position, with a midfield four behind of McGugan, Moussi, Perch and Cohen, who frankly lacked any obvious ‘positions’ (with the exceptions of Perch and Moussi who both played quite deep in the middle).  The defence was Chambers, Morgan, Wilson, Bennett as we’ve seen so many times before, and of course Smithy in goal.

More often than not we appeared to be in a kind of Christmas Tree formation, with three midfielders sitting deep, two attempting to bridge the gap and Earnie up front on his own – although the predictable struggle to get the ball forward to the front man was evident, there was plenty to be pleased about on today’s showing against a side who were playing in the top flight last season – and have only lost a couple of their key players in this time.

Straight from kick off Forest were on the attack, with Earnshaw capitalising on a defensive mix-up from Reading to pass through to Chris Cohen whose shot struck Perch-lookalike James Harper.  Reading seemed content to allow us to play the ball around and hit us on the break, and it was on these breaks that sphincters were twitching a wee bit, because they were quicker than what we’ve seen before.

Probably the highlight of the first half was a left-footed thunderbolt from Guy Moussi from around 25-30 yards, which struck Ibrahima Sonko in the face – despite his best efforts, the big defender was unable to stay on his feet and sunk ungracefully to the deck.  Earnshaw nearly got in on the rebound but was in an offside position.  Shortly after this he picked up the ball deep and struck from 25 yards just wide – although Hahnemann looked to have it covered all the way.

Matejovsky had lengthy treatment after a challenge with Perch (which looked fairly innocuous) and eventually required a stretcher to be brought on to carefully remove him from the pitch; so it could prove to be a nasty injury – hopefully not.  Forest finished the half strongly, and quite infuriatingly the referee blew the half time whistle just as we were shaping up to take a corner, which we’d won from another Moussi effort that Hahnemann had to tip wide.

Half time saw basically a crash course in scrapping from the Royal Marines on a series of mats around the pitch; I’m not sure that’s the kind of thing you should be encouraging football fans with!  It was quite funny speculating whether or not the Marines were really ‘giving it some’ to their compadres given the big crowd egging them on, I think some of the pain ‘acting’ wasn’t exactly put on from some of ’em!

Wilson needed treatment after Doyle cynically left his foot in after Wilson dispossessed him and appeared to give his leg a good studding; Perch dropped in to centreback whilst Wils awaited permission to return to the field to resume, which he did.  At the other end Moussi shot from range again, deflecting this time to earn another corner – from which Hahnemann bought a ‘foul’ from the referee.

Forest started to press going forward, it at times our build up play was sublime – but there was never a final ball (sound familiar?), having taken out Matejovsky already, Perch collided with his replacement Cisse and rendered both players requiring treatment.  McGugan did well to get the ball to Earnshaw going forward, but the striker was blocked at source.

Moussi involved himself frequently, always making himself available for the ball – and earning appreciative shouts of “MOOOOOOOOOOOOOOSE!” whenever he picked up the ball, and latterly an even more amusing cry of “THE MOOOOSE! THE MOOOOSE! THE MOOOOSE IS ON FIRE!” emanating from A Block and enthusiastically picked up around the rest of the ground.  A series of corners came to little as Reading defended resolutely.

As noted before, Reading looked dangerous on the break; and when Hunt crossed to Doyle, his header looked a goal all ends up from close range – but somehow Smith had the reactions to tip the ball on to the crossbar giving Bennett the opportunity to get the ball fully cleared to safety.  McGugan picked up a booking after conceding a freekick (which didn’t look like a foul), but throwing the ball away petulantly.

Shortly after he was withdrawn for Emile Sinclair, which – whilst the player himself didn’t exactly excite me, made me excited that we might have a partner for Earnshaw, but sadly Smoulds opted to play him on the right.  Our last chance fell to Earnie, who picked up a Davies header and tanked across the two defenders, but the turn and shot was weak and straight at the ‘keeper.  

The game ended with Reading pressing with a couple of corners coming in; I was hoping the referee would do to Reading what he did to us in the first half and not give them a chance to take them, but he did and we cleared – Smith finally clearing to bring the final whistle, and a deserved warm round of applause for the Reds as they returned to the changing room.

I’m chuffed with that showing, given our injuries.  If Reading are amongst the favourites, then we didn’t look out of place at all – and once we work on a more credible means of getting the ball through midfield into a proper chances for the likes of Earnshaw and (when fit) Cole, Garner, Tyson and Anderson we’ll be laughing.  I hope.  I’m still laughing anyway, we were above Derby without even playing a game – now we’ve played and we’re still unbeaten!

Reading players were frustrated by us, shown by the niggling fouls and cynical dragging down of players – this is promising stuff, it’s not a ‘tactic’ I would associate with Coppell – I think it was a reaction of their players borne of frustration.  I was pleased to see this.  I was a bit disappointed in the travelling fans who only really made a bit of noise early in the second half, but equally I was disappointed in the low attendance – Sky or no Sky.

But on the pitch, anything but disappointed – a good solid start to the campaign against an on-paper challenging opponent – well done lads!  I’m struggling to pick between Moussi and Perch for man of the match, which probably shows what kind of game this was really – defence certainly came out on top, but it wasn’t a ‘boring’ 0-0.

15 Responses

  1. Sounded good on radio. Well done. I hope A block pick up on modern romances song as ay ay ay ay moussi would sound better than a load of boos, which is what it sounded like. Good comments as usual and nice to be up and running !!! Alan http://www.website.ws/alansand

  2. A fair review I must say, but I think Reading gave us a lot of credit by defending in numbers, and looking to hit us on the break. I was hoping that Reading would be more attacking, leaving more open gaps. There were moments of nice one touch football, but at times we lacked width, especially down the left (Anderson will correct that balance!)

    I’m happy with a point, I think our form at home will see us in good stead, it’s when we go away will greatly shape our season (e.g last few season we’ve struggled).

  3. Good Game I thought, I would have took a draw at the beginning, however, had we had tyson, cole and anderson playing, I think we would have won.

    First time I have seen Moussi and Sky were building him up to be some playing after that showing. Looks a great buy. Just hope all this attention doesn’t attract a premier team. Who knows when the the bigs boys come back from injury we might even be a premier league next season.

    If Reading are one of the favourites we have nothing to worry about.

    On your comment about the attendence, I didn’t go because it would have cost me £50 plus for me and the wife, I have sky so no point in paying twice, however I will be down when Watford are down.

    You Reds

  4. Alan – if we’re singing “MOOOOOOOOOOOSE” all season I’ll be happy. Well deserved man of the match.

  5. A think a draw was the right result as whilst we had an awful lot of possession (up to 70-30% in our favour according to Sky) we really didnt penetrate their defence very often and if you think about it, their keeper didnt have a tough save to make.

    We need options up top and CC said in his post match interview he was looking to bring in a quality loan striker BUT of course, with the usual proviso that he needs to able to fit in to the existing bunch of lads (which is total cop out as far as Im concerned!!)

    Still we looked sharp and able to compete and I thought the defence played really well against Doyle and Lita who are two very mobile strikers.

    So a point more than Derby (LOL) and other postives are the Moose, Ernie and the defence. Good stuff!

  6. Very entertaining game which hopefully bodes well for the rest of the season. We seem to have started where we left off last season – full of confidence.
    The Moose looks a great find, the defence never gave an inch and Earnies movement and know how is something we have lacked for a while. Can’t wait to see him and Cole play together.
    Special mention to Perchy, who for me was MOTM. He made tackle after tackle to nulify Reading through the middle.
    Well done lads.

  7. excellent passing display by Forest, they are quite a capable bunch. This league will give the lads chance to pass the ball more, more space more goals! when we have these strikers ready the team will look a top half club
    The players knocked the ball around like a team proving a point

  8. A good display and a good game. Moussi looks fantastic and I’m glad you mentioned Perchy’s excellent game too. Don’t want to be critical but thought perhaps Mcleary could’ve had longer than a minute to try something different?

    Agree that the attendance was disappointing but there are many fans who don’t have season tickets who choose to save £25 and watch it down the pub instead. However, if the sheep shaggers can get 33,000 you have to question what they are doing differently to get bums on seats? It certainly isn’t the quality of the football bringing them in!

  9. So thats what the A Block were singing!, everyone around me in the ground thought they were singing “the roof is on fire”, I think it was a good point against a team youd expect to be challenging for promotion at the end of the season, I didnt rate Reading today and I hear a few players are leaving before Sept 1st so I dont fancy there chances. It was a good display by Forest we clearly needed a partner for Earnshaw though, Earnshaw had a cracking chance right after that Moussi shot on the home page not sure whether it was offside or not though. I hope Colin keeps to his word and brings in a couple of prem loan signings hopefully a striker until January when Garners fit, I dont have much hopes for Coles fitness to be honest I think hell play in about half maybe less. Im a bit worried about us not signing a sub goalkeeper Colin said at the start of the transfer market that was what he was looking for I cant really see Roberts making the step up if nything happens to Smith.

  10. Earnies chance post-Moussi was offside; he still should’ve done better with it though, arguably!

  11. I think you lot should be singing – “Moussi, Moussi, Moussi, aiaiaia, Moussi, Moussi, Moussi, aiaiaia,” instead of Ruby Ruby Ruby(Kaiser Chiefs hit) Draw, fair result, not really, we should have got 3 points & be top. Oh well, like said, more than happy 4 the point but NOT on the BASIS of the match.

  12. Good report as always, nffc. Shameless plug, but remember that we are doing post-match podcasts at http://www.eighteensixtyfive.co.uk, so please do have a listen if you have a chance, and let us know what you think!

    I think everyone would be pretty happy with the result! Oh, and in response to Aylesbury, I understand that McLeary was carrying some kind of injury, so maybe CC didn’t want to aggravate it by making him play for too long?

  13. Loved the podcast; downloaded and had a listen last night, didn’t have chance to comment ’til now.. I’ll comment more fully on your site later 🙂

  14. Heard a rumour an old Forest fav is on the way back….. any truth in it? Also, who’s pulling our legs & Judas has got a call up for the Scotland Squad???

  15. I’m back home after one more pilgrimage to the City Ground, and I would be very happy to come back during the season! I’d have loved to pack a win in my suitcase to carry back, but I had to content myself with a draw and some souvenirs for friends from the club shop…
    It was great meeting you nffc, so good to know the person who is behind these always well-written lines – and next time it will be my treat! Too bad Egor the Red wasn’t there too, but maybe next time, who knows.
    I thought the team showed great determination although the problem in offense was obvious. I had heard a lot about Guy Moussi, and he’s indeed a player that will make the difference in this division. Nevertheless, I agree with Paul and give my MOTM vote to Perchy, who was all over the place. I will remember those three tackles in the same play for a long time. Well done James, and although I would also like to see him at right back (where Chambers looked a bit shaky), it looked to me like he could be very good as a defensive midfielder too.
    Reading did not scare me at all, and compliments to Smitty for the save, but had it gone in, they would have taken back something they did not by any means deserve. I am sure Forest can keep up with the rest of the pack, and it will be great to have a full-strength squad for the second half of the season and maybe push for a playoff spot.
    I hope everyone keeps the optimism up for a change, and I’m sure we’re in for a memorable season!

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