You lucky lucky Mackems!

Nottingham Forest – 1
Sunderland – 2 (after extra time)

Normally going to a game gives you an advantage in summing up, but after a multitude of replays from different angles, I guess those of you that opted for the poisonous charms of Sky Sports might actually have a better idea of proceedings than I do having toughed it out at the City Ground this evening with less than 10,000 other people.  A disappointing showing.

I won’t labour on the whole game except to say I’m pleased as hell with the performance – I was expecting a full strength Sunderland side to pose many more questions than they did, and whilst Paul Smith made some absolutely exceptional saves to keep us in it (including in the build up to both goals, infuriatingly, when the defence just wasn’t quite up to clearing up for him).  If you had asked somebody before the game which ‘keeper had just cost £9m, not many would’ve picked Gordon, who clearly didn’t watch ‘The Championship’ on Sunday to see where Earnie might try to put a freekick!

Of course, I say Sunderland were lucky, but they certainly created the better opportunities – early doors they swept forward with menace only to spank the ball repeatedly into the Trent End, before Forest started to make inroads.  Half-chances falling to Earnshaw after good work by McCleary, and latterly Chambers – in a chance where an excellent block from Nosworthy prevented the Welshman from testing Craig Gordon in the Mackem goal.

Sunderland’s latest loan acquisition, Djibril Cisse, looked certain to have opened the scoring – unleashing an absolute thunderbolt across Paul Smith and off the post – and out to safety.  Shortly after Smith was called into action to tip a Murphy shot around the post.  Shortly after great build-up play from the pacey Cisse set up Murphy who conspired to miss the target from just six yards out.  Whitehead brought another save from Smith, and finally a powerful freekick from Cisse was just over.

In the second half Forest showed a bit more confidence after again, the visitors started on the offensive.  Thornhill – looking spectacularly like Scot Gemmill bizarrely – set up a chance for McCleary who blazed over.  Later Moussi again found Thornhill who so so so so nearly set up Earnshaw to bury it, but the striker couldn’t quite stretch for the ball.  Forest were awarded a freekick when Nosworthy clumsily brought down Earnie on the edge of the box, it was almost in the same place as the freekick we picked up against Watford, and Earnie followed Gordon’s cue by putting it into the gaping top corner he wasn’t covering – identically placed to his attempt against Watford – if Gordon had done his research he would’ve been anticipating that!

Sunderland did attack again, but Wes and Brecks were comfortable at the back dealing with it, and Forest still conspired to create chances going forward, Earnshaw putting an attempt over after good work from Thornhill again.  Reidy came close to burying a cross from Diouf but volleyed wide from close range.  McCleary was withdrawn for Tyson with around ten minutes remaining, but the away side were starting to threaten more and more.

The equaliser came and it was a real kick in the teeth, a Reid freeick lead to a shot from Miller which Smith did amazingly well to parry to safety, or so it should have been, but unfortunately the usually unflappable Moussi had a bit of a panic and swung at the ball when he had time to clear more calmly.  The ball was whipped back in and put into the net from close range, just beyond the despairing dive of Smith who must be getting royally fed up of making great saves only for his defence to not quite do their job!

The final minutes were scrappy, with the only real chance for the Reds a headed effort from Thornhill which went wide.  The four minutes of stoppage time were punctuated with the referee giving Sunderland a series of freekicks for no apparent reason, before blowing for full time, and thus extra time.  The Forest players looked visibly knackered as they shaped up to restart – more so than the Sunderland players who started extra time very much in the ascendancy.

Forest seemed to go to sleep as Leadbitter burst through clear on goal, Smithy somehow again pulled a great save out the bag, but it fell to yet another unmarked Sunderland player, David Healy, who was able to bury it from a similar distance to give the Mackems the lead for the first time in the game.  Bloody typical, eh?  Thornhill was withdrawn to give Andrew Cole the opportunity to stroll around the pitch and have a chat with his former team-mates, and after an uneventful remainder of extra time, Emile Sinclar was thrown on for Guy Moussi.

The only real shout we had of equalising was again from an Earnshaw setpiece, it looked far out to shoot but it looked to me that Gordon this time was looking for the shot – the striker cleverly chipped the ball into the box and Chambers managed to get a looping header onto it which beat the Scottish ‘keeper hands down, but agonising dropped onto the bar rather than just under it.  I think a draw would’ve been fair, despite the difference in chances and possession for the Premiership side.

So initially I was a bit gutted – four minutes away from going through, but then ultimately I expected us to be thoroughly outplayed and lose.  To see Wes and Brecks keep the likes of Cisse, Murphy, Diouf, Healy and Reidy quiet (or relatively quiet) was really heartening.  To see us still passing and moving at times was also really really good – and yes, in some ways we were unlucky – but frankly, I can deal with that.  Given that I so often hear idiots at the City Ground slagging them off with little or no provocation, a three way man-of-the-match award should go to Breckin, Perch and Smith – all three worked their socks off and had cracking games.

Breckin aerially was excellent – and that tackle he put in on Cisse was absolute perfection.  Perchy covered the back line admirably and put in some tremendously timed tackles (often down the right side of defence…), his distribution lacked occasionally, but a fine performance to cap off a great start of the season for him.  Paul Smith needs no explanation, some spectacularly good saves to keep us in it, much improved distribution, claiming crosses (or punching, when appropriate).  If I had to put my money on a player who will start to attract higher-level interest come January, I’d put it on Smithy.

So I remain a bit disappointed we couldn’t hold on, but hugely encouraged by the manner of the performance.  We need to cut out these defensive lapses that have cost us goals in our last three games now – but going forward things are starting to click.  Fewer clear-cut chances today against a better defence than previous games, but still opportunities.  Dare I say the future looks quite rosy?  Oh, I just did, didn’t I.  Well done lads, you did us proud – and we never win on Sky, anyway!

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14 Responses

  1. I´m heartened by the display, and as you say the quality of the attackers doesn´t seem to bother our defence.I hope the lads recover in time for the wolves game which should be a cracker !!should Brecks keep his place??? Alan http://www.website.ws/alansand

  2. I agree with your MOTM awards NFFC – all three played exceptionally well and it was nice to see Breckin put in a solid performance.

    Perch is turning out to be a bit of a revelation to me this season so far. Every performance seems to be solid and his workrate is exceptional. Obviously CC likes him as he always includes him so lets hope hes found his right position at last.

    On the minus side, I thought once Forest conceded the goal (and I accept to concede a late equaliser is ALWAYS disappointing) they lost all belief in themselves. Football is often about mental strength and I thought this is where we failed last night. Once we lost belief, it appeared there would only be one winner – and so it turned out.

    Still we didnt look outclassed and Im loving the way we are trying to pass the ball about.

    Yes NFFC, I think the future is rosy too!

  3. Well done Forest, I’ve just finished reading the reports on the net. We were so close.
    Anybody know why Lee Martin did not play? He is not cup-tied since he played against Morecambe.

  4. I opted for the beer and TV option last night. There was a great atmosphere with lots of really good banter between the watching fans. Perch had a stonking 1st half but went missing slightly in the 2nd – although a lot of that was down to Sunderland catching on to the fact he was doing such a blinding job they started to play much more direct which kind of cut him out – and Forest did the same for long spells. In the first half, almost every move the ball went through Perch and Moussi. 2nd half, Perch spent far more time covering Chambers and therefore not as involved in the game as a whole. Not quite sure what role Cohen was given last night – looked like he was playing two different games.

    Great, great performance by the team. Every single player can take great heart from their contribution. A bit more experience, a bit more composure and a teensy bit more talent in one or two areas and we’d have won that game.

    There were two major differences between the two sides last night:
    1. While the Reds had the vast majority of possession and territorial advantage, we didn’t create a chance at the end of our build up play whereas Sunderland did. OK, their shot was more often than not spannered into the top tier of the Trent End or straight at Smithy but the point is there was an end product.
    2. Speed of play, Our build up tended to be measured while Sunderlands passing was super quick, especially in the 2nd half.

  5. Great performance, disappointing we couldn’t hold on in the end though.

    Lee Martin had a calf injury I believe but he should be back for Wolves on Saturday

    COME ON YOU REDS!!!!!!!

  6. At least people in Nottingham were able to watch the match on Sky – rather infuriatingly, my local hostelry changed the channel after 15 minutes to watch the Scousers almost balls it up (despite my protests), and nowhere else in north Birmingham seemed to be showing it (again, despite my protests). Arse.

  7. Reds who didn’t get to watch on Sky really missed out on a football treat. Your consolation is that you didn’t have to put up with Gary Pundit Birtles. Is it just me or are there other noses that he gets up? For a while he’s seemed to revel in Forest’s difficulties: now he’s a born again Forest fan, but he’s so much up his own bum that we were treated to a night of how he made Forest great. Admitted he was a great player for us and a local lad to boot. but when it comes to sensible comment, it’s John McGovern every time. Forest for promo, Smoulds said it first!

  8. Good balanced report, certainly spot on and hit the right notes about the game. I too remain pleased despite the result and am more buoyed and positive about Forest than I have been in many years; they are playing very attractive football. Maybe that is down to the opposition but it still reflects very well and should – deserves – to attract bigger crowds. However, I too opted for the beer and TV tonight but firmly agree that having to put up with that @rse Birtles comments proved to be a bigger challenge! Also how did the little fat irishman get MOM – should’ve been Smith or Perch – and probably would have been had we won.

  9. I thought we were excellent last night, and loved seeing us pass the ball around at a higher level than the Mackems.

  10. Guys, sorry to dissapoint u all but 4 once I hardly follwed the match – I knew approx what happened – but I was too wrapped up in the Anorthosis game and hstory followed by the crazy celebrations via Protaras & Ayia Napa to care that much.

    Well done u Reds, ET against Prem opp is great but Ano has created it’s own history. BTW Vasilis – y r u’re fans so stupid??? What the f!!! was all that about the last 2 days?

    For those who don’t know Olympiacos fans were attacking Anorthosis fans from the moment they arrived until the end of the match. Olympiacos won 1-0 on the night but went out 3-1 on agg. Anorthosis Ammochostou – Champions League!!

  11. This is a Forest blog Yiannaki. And although I will never agree with such stupid things, your chairman must get new glasses (or drink less, for that matter) when seeing 50 people and telling everyone he’s seen 2,000. Congrats (sincerely) for your qualification, but I believe that your newly-rich attitude (TV rights, tickets, threats for appeals to UEFA etc), with the support of dear Mr Lefkaritis (UEFA Vice-Prez) of course, will get you nowhere. Olympiakos was pure disappointment, inside and outside the field. I was hanging on to a Forest win for consolation, but it didn’t happen either. Again, well done u reds (of Nottingham of course).

  12. Hey guys – our wish has been granted! MARTIN IS STAYING UP TO NEW YEAR’S!

  13. Vas Vas Vas my friend, of course this a Forest blog but since we have some common ground & I don’t have u’re e-mail add I have no other form of communication. As 4 our chairman – let’s see what UEFA says about that & if our Chairman drinks alot I can’t imagine who much a Greek Chairman drinks!!!

    Anyway – back 2 topic, yes well done to the real Reds (who don’t resort to scare tactics) for looking Sunderland in the eyes & giving them another game to remember. Harsh it maybe the result but it only bolds nicely for the long term. As for Martin staying, yes it’s good as it means we don’t need to rush Cole & the rest back from injury.

    We need to put a good show 2day & hopefuly CC doesn’t play 1 up front. I don’t see how he thinks it works – it didn’t vs Swansea.

    PS Well done Earnie for showing what an idiot your National Coach is, keep ramming in those goals (sorry – no pun intended) & show him that u deserve a starting spot starting with Wolves 2day.

  14. Also Vas, it brings a little more colour to the site – who knows, maybe in a few years time it’s Ano, Forest & Olympiakos in the same group!!! 😀

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