Latest fail at Deepdale..

The margin for error is smaller in the Championship..

The margin for error is smaller in the Championship..

Preston North End – 2
Nottingham Forest – 1

Whilst I was brought up with Forest in the top flight, and then became accustomed to our placement in the second tier, some level of acclimatisating to the third tier of the football pyramid has made me appreciate one of the key differences between the levels.  If you make mistakes in this league, they are infinitely more likely to be punished; and so it was the case tonight.  On the flip side, when we force errors we are not so quick to take advantage and put our opponents to the sword.  It’s something we need to get good at.

Smoulderwood elected, to the surprise of the travelling fans, to line up in a four-four-two formation; Chambers was dropped to the bench in favour of bringing Breckin into central defence, and pushing Wilson to right back, Cohen was brought back to left back, with a midfield comprising McCleary and Martin on the wings, with Moussi and Perch in the middle.  Earnshaw and Cole completed the outfield line up, with Smith obviously in goal.  4-4-f**king 2!  I wouldn’t say it filled us with hope, but it was a pleasant surprise.

Our first chance fell early to Earnie, who didn’t really work Lonergan particularly hard with a shot from range; he was just blocked later when Cole tried to tee him up.  His third chance came from a freekick from quite far out – which wasn’t far wide; certainly an improvement on the woeful attempt against Burnley!  Preston had a fair few chances too, as you’d expect from the home side, and Smith was alert to prevent Carter from scoring by tipping over the bar.

The best chance of the half for the Reds fell to Cohen, who burst forward convincingly to bring a punched save from Lonergan and win the Reds a corner.  So half time came and it had been a fairly even contest, and a cause for much heart given the rather flakey nature of our away performances so far this season; a more balanced formation certainly helped to contain our opponents (something which most certainly didn’t happen at Molineux!) and left the travelling fans feeling cautiously confident during the break.

Unfortunately Forest’s first half Jekyll turned Hyde very quickly, a badly defended corner was headed in far too easily after only five minutes of the restart; it could have been two soon after but Mellor conspired to spoon it over from a yard out – unfortunately he wasn’t in such a charitable mood moments later when he arrived at the back post to head a cross into the net from close range after Martin had lost the ball with Cohen out of position on the overlap.  All in all, a disastrous few minutes of play which ultimately shaped the outcome of the game.

The Moose tried to swing things back into our favour with a surge forward and shot, but it was straight at the ‘keeper.  The goal did come though, Perch played Earnshaw wide who flicked the ball to Martin whose cross-shot was put into the goal by a Preston defender.  Tyson was introduced for Cole, and almost immediately impacted earning us a corner.  The equaliser could, and arguably should, have come from Earnie who shot over after good work from McCleary to set him up.

The game ended with Reds pressure, but no real end product – and thus another defeat; disappointing for sure, worrying a little – but it’s too early to be fretting too much about final outcomes.  It concerns me we don’t seem to be able to prevent teams scoring against us, and the kind of ruthlessness infront of goal we showed against Watford has been sadly absent since – but certainly it was heartening to see a more conventional formation with a bit of width to it deployed; we just need it to turn into results.

Feelings of being hard done by were compounded by the Sheep picking up a point away at Swansea, as well as Plymouth picking up their first win of the season.  This puts actual point difference between us and the mutton-botherers; and us into the last of the relegation places above just Barnsley and Southampton.  It’s of course far too early to be contemplating a relegation battle, but it’s never nice to be in one of those dreaded three places regardless of how young the season may be.  So it’s not panic stations.  Yet.

Since I neglected to book the morning off work, I’m going to get some sleep!

5 Responses

  1. Didn’t realise that the second goal came after Martin lost it – I regard him as a bit of an enigma, one of those supposedly flair players who (as I said on Saturday) has a tendency to “fanny about” a bit too much.

    Interesting comments from CC post-match…

  2. Didnt listen to the match so your review was well received NFFC, as per!

    0-0 was looking good for us at half time but the minutes between 45 and 60 always seem dangerous for Forest as we have a habit of not switching on (IMHO) when we first come out in the second half – and so it proved yet again.

    What did CC says that was out of the ordinary Rish??

  3. If you have your speakers turned on, you can listen to CC’s interview on the BBC Football site: CC not a happy man.

  4. Egor – thought I had posted a comment in response to you earlier, but obviously did not register.

    You may already have seen CC’s comments, but he basically said that the defending was not good enough and that the players were not taking responsibility for their errors. I have made further comments here:

  5. Thanks Rish – and thanks also for the link to your blog!

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