Forest arrive at winning ways against Watford..

Earnie opens his league account with a calm finish against Poom...

Earnie opens his league account with a calm finish against Poom...

Nottingham Forest – 3
Watford – 2

I exited the City Ground with a big smile on my face, as did many around me.  Aside from promotion day, that hasn’t happened too many times of late.  Today I think I started to see the kind of football Smoulderwood wants to play, and if there’s to be more of that kind of attacking play on offer this season, then I’m very excited by the prospect.  It wasn’t all rosy, slack defending let Watford claim two well-taken but badly-defended goals – but equally at the other end with more decisive play we could have netted more than the three goals we scored.

Another disappointing attendance, a smidge over 20,000 with a decent (albeit very quiet) following from our visitors – having said that, I would rather have a lower crowd getting behind the team as was happening today, than to have an extra 10,000 on top but berating and booing – as was happening down the A52 at their rather cringeworthy beach party extravaganza.  Rumour has it that even now Kris Commons is still cruising around the carpark hoovering up left over sausages and burgers… 

… so anyway, on to more savoury (more savoury than a sausage or a burger?…), this afternoon was very pleasing indeed.  Wilson and McGugan were relatively late injuries, with McCleary and Breckin stepping in to cover, and more excitingly Tyson and Cole were fit enough to feature on the bench.  So we lined up in a slightly more balanced way, and I was particularly pleased to see Cohen back in the middle as I don’t really think he’s best utilised in a more advanced position as Smoulderwood had been doing to accommodate his different midfield options.

Chambers    Morgan    Breckin    Bennett
Moussi   Cohen
McCleary                      Martin

So it looked a bit like that – now, anybody who has watched one of Smoulds’ teams will know that the formation is fairly, well, shall we say, ‘not rigid’.  Martin, McCleary and Cohen in particular were very mobile, and width was provided by the fullbacks (mostly Bennett).  I’ve never exactly been a convert to Smoulders’ systems of play, but today I started to feel like I could be a convertee, because at times our attacking play was tremendous compared to what we’re used to.

The game started well for Forest, McCleary fed the Moose who duly miskicked and almost spannered a shot out for a throw-in!  The niggly ex-Rotherham midfielder Lee Williamson had an opportunity at the other end but put it wide, and Harley was close with an over-head kick which went over (and would never have troubled Smithy in goal had it been on target either).  Watford put on a lot of early pressure, but didn’t create many more chances.

It was somewhat against the run of play that Forest took the lead; The Moose kept hold of the ball under the attentions of two Watford players, eventually playing the ball to Cohen whose pass to Martin looked to be too close to Doyley.  Luckily it reached Martin who cut inside from the left channel, before unleashing a tremendous curling and dipping shot beyond the massive Mart Poom – much to our delirium!

This spurred Forest on to a much more composed period of play, Bennett thundered a shot in a crowded box to win a penalty, Cohen should have slipped the ball to an unmarked Earnshaw after he’d got the better of DeMerit and was bearing down on goal – instead he shot from a tight angle with Mart Poom always favourite to stop the effort.  Earnie was furious afterwards, clearly desperate to get his first goal for the Reds.

The equaliser came after Watford had been fighting their way (literally in many cases – a very niggly and physical team, encouraged by an incredibly lenient referee) back into the game, and Forest were – I think – a bit unlucky, but also guilty of an unforgivable lapse in concentration.  Harley took a corner which was headed goalward by Bromby, Paul Smith pulled a tremendous save out the bag, and rather than cover the rebound, the Forest defence just seemed to watch and appreciate the save leaving Tommy Smith, the ex Sheep-botherer, to pounce and bury it.

This was only 22 minutes into the game, and it now opened up and became very end-to-end.  Cohen came close for the Reds but his shot was blocked, the nigglesome Rasiak headed just over at the other end.  Forest, though, were to take the lead again and in some style.  An absolutely delightful throughball from Moussi set Earnshaw free down the middle, as Poom rushed out the gap between the diminutive striker and the onrushing giant seemed too small, but he deftly lifted the ball over Poom and into the corner of the net.

Half time and the Reds had a deserved lead.  In attack we looked very dangerous indeed, although defending was a worry.  Morgan and Breckin dealt admirably with the aerial threat of Watford (aside from the corner leading to the goal where the defending was shoddy), but Watford’s rather direct tactics were rather worrysome.  Certainly the atmosphere around the ground was positive and the second half was eagerly anticipated.

The second half saw Martin try to replicate his earlier goal with a more powerful drive, unfortunately it went straight into the Trent End this time.  He’d found himself acres of space out on the left, and had been picked out by Perch.  Shortly after he connected with a Cohen knock-down but couldn’t direct it goalward again, blazing well away from the target.

Forest were looking threatening when attacking, but not creating clear chances – but were certainly started to look comfortable despite nearish misses from Rasiak and Smith for the visitors, at which point Boothroyd made some chances that appeared to immediately pay dividends.  He took off Harley (who’d been hammered into the advertising boards by Morgan) and Williamson (who’d had a tantrum when McCleary took the ball off him perfectly fairly earlier), for Francis and Priskin.

The equaliser came as a result of Tommy Smith’s quick reactions in the box, and our defence standing and watching again.  Doyley put in a decent cross which Smith pounced on to volley into the net from around 12 yards out whilst the defenders stood and watched.  A very unlucky 2-2 scoreline was of course the result, and it was good to see that Forest and the fans – rather than caving in – were up for redressing the balance back into our favour.

Tyson was introduced for the lively-but-largely-ineffective McCleary, and almost had an immediate impact – he put a low cross in which DeMerit put out for a corner.  His second involvement did yield a goal, Earnshaw expertly hit a freekick which Poom appeared to touch onto the post – the rebound fell very favourably for Tyson who was able to slot it into the back of the net with his second touch to give the game to the Reds.

His third involvement showed perhaps a touch of rustiness, he burst clear but was too slow to get a good pass to Earnshaw, giving Earnie less opportunity to pull the trigger from a dangerous position.  In the Forest area Priskin – clearly with the Olympic diving still at top of mind – tumbled to Earth under the most minor of contact with Wes, which was summarily waved away by the referee.

Emile Sinclair was introduced for the hard-working Earnshaw, and shortly after the excellent Martin was withdrawn for Andy (or Andrew) Cole.  Watford looked increasingly desperate, their only real chance where a Rasiak cross-shot was missed by Smith in a rare error, but Eustace on the far post was at too tight an angle to cause any trouble.  At the other end Watford’s defence was hopeless, and Forest were able to pass the ball at will and create a number of chances.

Sinclair had a chance well parried by Poom, but the best chance of the closing stages fell to Tyson who burst clear but dragged his far-post shot wide having got the ball past the big ‘keeper after a decent through-ball from Perch.  After what felt like an age of stoppage time (heaven knows what for) the referee blew for full time just as Smith had claimed the ball and held it, and the ground erupted – particularly as news filtered through that Derby had lost as well.

An excellent days work by the boys, there are undoubtedly still some areas for improvement – but my biggest concern this season was always where the goals would come from – and today I started to glimpse how Smoulderwood’s vision might just actually provide on that front.  Ironically the area I was less concerned about – defence – was the worrying factor today.  I’m not convinced by Chambers at fullback and we need to work on our concentration and reactions to get to rebounds after set pieces.

But I’m delighted with the result, and it felt so good to walk from the City Ground amongst smiling fans enthused by not only an effective, but an entertaining performance to boot.  That’s worth a lot, and it’s something we’ve not witnessed regularly for literally years – I’m hoping that we get to see some more of it this season!  Certainly this was the best possible marketing ploy for the Sunderland game going, rather than this green jumper nonsense.

11 Responses

  1. Am I the first to comment tonight? Jolly! I was as usual following the game on the net. Great work from midfield up to put three past a side that had not conceded a single goal in its first three outings. Means that we belong here, as the ex-Elton John men are picked among the favourites, now aren’t they? And our presumedly strikerless offence did its job well to cover for the defensive errors.

    I feel so happy for both Earnie and Tys. And I feel so grateful to the management for picking up Martin. All I am sad about is, couldn’t this have been the game which I was there to watch? Sounds like it was an excellent game of football. Volumes better than that promising, but hardly delightful 0-0.

    Now about the attendances. I was bewildered in the opening game and now it was even less. In a way you are right nffc, I prefer what I saw and heard to the usual moaning and booing. But then, my ticket at the Bridgford End cost 25 quid, maybe this has got something to do with it too. Forest are challenged, I feel, to play football at a level that is up to the expense, and I am happy to read that so far it is, at least at home. I certainly hope Champions League games don’t dissuade fans from going to the City Ground next Wednesday, we could pull an upset against a side that triumphed vs much-more-advertised Tottenham in London today. Good job Keano.

    And that what’s-its-name black and white so-called football team has lost again at home I hear? Good point about the whats-his-name food seeker, hamburgers and hot dogs are a great side dish to the all-time classic humble pie.

    Keep up the good work you Reds. And welcome back Tys and Andy!

  2. Ooooops, my English. “Presumably”, I meant! lol

  3. Going into this game, I was very excited by the prospect of playing the first game against real championship opposition and though we lost to Swansea, thought there was much to pleased about at this early stage in the season. Also with Tys and Coley on the bench, and with news that Garner will be training in a week’s time, was ever more happy with the way things are going. Great report on the game NFFC by the way. Well what is left to say. Listening to the radio, we did sound a bit slack in defense and having heard a few murmours that Chambers has been found wanting, that didn’t stop us looking very good up front. I cannot wait to see the highlights though I get the impression all the goals were well created and well deserved and on the whole, though I knew it wasn’t long in coming, the win is a bit of a relief and it shows we have some quality in the team and the way we seem to be playing, the return of good football to the City Ground has finally arrived. Uuuu rrrreeedddsssss!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  4. Great match. Martin was MOM today by a mile. He ran his socks off, went through watford midfielders like a knife through hot butter, and always looked our strongest player.

    I like the formation listed above. What went arye second half was when the formation became 2 up front, still 3 in the centre of midfield and NOBODY on the left wing. That yawning gap was how watford managed, uncontested to get a great cross in from which they scored.

    I was more worried still when cole came on for martin, as the young lad was a major outlet. Then Smoulds, putting 2 strikers on and reducing the midfield for the last 10 minutes when defending a lead? What I want to know is WHAT HAVE YOU DONE WITH THE REAL SMOULDS? Or has he had a blood transfusion from the man on tyneside?

    Still – nerve racking it was but we did it. And with Anderson hopefully playing a role on the other wing, and Moussi being the signing of the summer, the future’s looking bright 🙂

  5. I think Smoulds has a different plan for this league; formations and benches were necessarily defensive due to injuries in the first two games – I hope I’m right, because today whilst we weren’t the finished article, there were glimpses of something really worth getting excited about!

  6. Great match to listen to and I hope the attendences start to increase. Moussi seems to be developing well and can only improve,as can the whole team as they gain more experience in this league.
    Nice to see Earnie get his goal and hope we can extent the loan period for Martin. I don´t fancy him playing against us for the blades or any other team later in the season.
    Now I´ll get my drink…Cheers !! Alan

  7. Martin’s goal was out of our world, he covered so much ground and showed natural brilliance at times, but I have to agree with our Smoulds he does overdo it at times and showed his age. With 13 potentials, my MOM was James P, our in-front-of-the-back-four libero never put a foot wrong and I hope he hangs on to the position.

    I agree the officials were weird: the corner that led to their first goal definitely came off McAnuff and Benno’s tackle was perfect. Could have been costly for us but Mr Haywood almost became a homer towards the end.

    What an awesome prospect Earnie and Tys up front together. Can anybody fill me in on the words of the Nathan Tyson da da da ditty.

  8. You pretty much have the lyrics nailed already mate; the tune is ‘Papa’s got a brand new Pigbag” – the lyrics are just “Der der der der, Na-than Ty-son…” (an it repeats).

    It’s quite a common chant around the teams.. whilst it’s unoriginal it does sound pretty good when it gets going!

  9. Fantastic performance from the Reds yesterday & whilst not a paid up member yet, I’m coming round to Calerwood’s vision of the beautiful game. Three up front looked fantastic & we appear to have the presonnel now to play this system. Whereas last year we had the ponderous Agogo & the sloth that was Grant Holt, we now have pace, mobility & quality that are crucial when you play this system.
    Calderwood appears to have the midas touch in the transfer market what with Moussi & Martin; indeed I note another Calderwood target McCormack is banging in the goals for the Taffs.
    I agree again about the dissappointing attendance but just read your sunday papers & you will see everyone is suffering; even the Geordies are struggling to fill their ground. As for the Rams, the sheep dip really is turning into the “Theatre of Comedy”.

  10. OK, 1st off, nice to see Vas back on the net – how was your adventurous journey?

    next – Graham – u come across as a person with a short term mem. Y do I say that – 2 seasons ago Holt was a God, last season he was pushed out of the team – had no runs in the season & eventually shipped on loan to BC for the remainder of the season. At first the board was meant to be swept clean but a week later shipped to Shrews where he scored on his debut (I think – the debut bit I mean).

    We have more pace this season yes – but we had similar pace last year too. As for smoulds having a magic touch in the transfer market – yep, buying injured players!!! OK – I’m being 2 cruel. He’s done well this season & those who’ve played are showing their worth.

    3rdly – I hope next away match – vs Wolves on Sat he doesn’t revert to a lone striker up front. We didn’t need to @ Swansea & we certainly don’t need to @ Molineaux either (in my opinion – CC may prob. disagree but we’ll see).

    1 win is good – it doesn’t mean all’s well & we can relax. Defensive lapses can be punished & were on Sat but we managed to win. Good.

    As for Martin – he’s showing y Man U don’t want to sell him but he needs to prove that in the rest of the month he’s here for. I still reckon we need another player & that player MUST have Championship experience.

    That’s all 4 now except there’s 1 week left for the transfer market to close…

  11. I’ve long been a supporter of Chambers but after the opening two games this season, it looks like he is out of his depth as a right back. Odd that CC has signed him up on an extended contract.

    In an opposite twist, I never got Cohen before this weekend. He always seemed like a headless chicken to me but by god did he have a blinder of a game chasing, closing down, always offering himself. he was my MoM.

    Wes just looks better and better with every game he plays. The man is an absolute rock in the heart of our defence.

    Earnshaw is still to win me round. His passing was woeful on Saturday. I forgave him for the few chances he had and missed against Reading as he’s seriously lacking match practice and against Watford, you could see his movement was much better and the positions he found himself in much better too.

    The formation worked. But when everyone is fit, where are they going to fit into that shape and who will be left out? It would be very hard to drop Perch who has done the thankless job wonderfully. McCleary out for Tyson/Garner is the obvious one but where is Anderson going to fit in? What about McGugan? Bizarrely, I thought the team was better without him – it was a true team effort whereas McGugan does tend to try and do a little too much on his own occasionaly. Sometimes the whole is greater than the sum of its parts…

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