Reds snag a point after being sent to Coventry – but is it enough?

Earnie scores, but the celebrations dont last...

Earnie scores, but the celebrations don't last...

Coventry City – 2
Nottingham Forest – 2

But we’ve only lost one in the last eight games!” exclaimed the Smoulderwood supporter, “Yet we’ve only won two games in the same period, and we need to win more!” countered the fan keen for change.  Disraeli was probably on to something when he identified three kinds of lie, “Lies, damned lies, and statistics.”   

You see, in many ways a draw at the Ricoh isn’t too bad; but well, we do need more than that really.  Like it we may not, but time does tick tock away and we do really need to start getting wins – we aren’t quite bottom of the league, but only Charlton’s poorer goal difference keeps us from it, and frankly, an injury-ravaged Coventry side who are struggling for performances at home is the kind of game where – if we’re serious about survival – we should be looking for three points.

But to offer the counterpoint, things were looking decidedly ropey when upon a mere two minutes of play we found ourselves behind.  A cross came in and Elliott Ward – completely unmarked in our penalty area – converted from close range to give the home side the lead.  That’s the kind of thing we could do with avoiding.  Garner had a chance to level after good work from McGugan, but hit a powerful strike just over.

A frustrating half in many ways, Forest had the right posture – they pressured, they attacked in numbers, they even had the odd chance – Westwood saved well from Earnie’s shot from a tight angle, but ultimately despite pushing forward well, that final ball or shot was just not quite cutting the mustard.  Anderson had a close effort which Westwood conceded a corner from rather than risk an embarrassment, from the corner Garner had another sight of goal, but wasn’t able to keep his volleyed effort below the crossbar.

Increasingly urgency from the Reds saw Earnshaw strike wide from the edge of the box, the diminutive striker was in a great position again after Lynch found him – unfortunately Turner was equal to the task of putting in a challenge to prevent a shooting opportunity.  The persistence was to pay off, however – a Cohen cross was converted brilliantly with a diving header by Earnshaw from around 12 yards, giving Forest a hard fought-for equaliser, and an opportunity to continue to take the game to the hosts.

Or not.

You see, we had one of those lapses in concentration.  A mere minute later a corner was taken, it was flicked on by Eastwood to Clinton Morrison who bundled the ball over the line to give the lead back to Coventry.  Again, Forest responded with attacking endeavour – Garner sent McGugan clear, he blazed over from a mere six yards.  Earnshaw looked to have doubled his tally in first half stoppage time, but a deflection took it agonisingly wide with Westwood well beaten.

The second half was more tentative, Perch was clobbered by a Coventry player but carried on, aside from that it took a while to come to life.  Gunnarson forced Camp into a decent save, and from then Forest were again on the attack.  McGugan worked some considerable magic to beat a number of Coventry players, only to fluff his shot over when it came to it, Moloney did well to create a chance that neither of our strikers were able to capitalise on.  We were starting to see echoes of the first half again!

We did equalise, of course – you’ve seen the final score up there even if you didn’t know it before!  McGugan delivered a freekick into the box which Garner was able to deftly head just inside the post.  Forest had their tails up now, and didn’t lapse as before defensively – however Coventry were prepared to dig in and defend their point, and when the defence was breached Westwood was on hand to deny Garner after more good work from Lewis McGugan.

Coventry did have a few forays to claim the three points too, Morrison was too slow to react to a cross right across the six yard line, and Wilson was on hand to deny late substitute Leon Best from testing Camp in the Forest goal.  Camp wasn’t out of the woods yet though, Mifsud thought he’d scored from a Gunnarson cross but Camp dived to his right to palm the ball away – drawing congratulations from opponents and teammates alike, and apparently described by Colin Fray as the best save he’s ever seen, according to a text I received shortly after!

Forest had the final chances, which on balance of play was fair – I feel – McCleary looked to have a golden chance when he got free in the penalty area but dragged his shot wide, and shortly after Garner opted to volley first time straight at Westwood from six yards – whereas he had time and space to bring it down and do what he liked with it.  It feels like two points dropped to me, I’m afraid, given the chances.  And we’re really not in a position to be dropping points.

Of course, the real interest now lies with the persistent rumours about Smoulderwood’s future – will he leave for Swindon?  Are mischievous people making up silly rumours?  Do we really want Roy Keane to take over anyway?  These questions and more are bound to be covered over the coming days!