Southampton succumb as the Reds go marching in..

a top performance from the defender

Wes: a top performance from the defender

Southampton – 0
Nottingham Forest – 2

I was going to call this a good-if-unspectacular away performance, but then Joe Garner decided to offer something of the spectacular as well!  Three very welcome points against fellow basement scrabblers give Forest that nicest of preparations for Christmas, an away trip from which they can wend their way home safe in the knowledge we’ve picked up some crucial points.  Of course in reality there’s no such thing as a six pointer, but in the world of metaphor this was certainly one of those.

St Mary’s might as well be the Walkers Stadium.  Indeed, increasingly you feel that if it were possible to install colour-changing seats then only one stadium would be needed for the Championship – because they all seem to start to look the same!  Despite the uninspiring arena, the home fans were in good voice – the Forest fans, unusually when visiting other grounds, somewhat subdued.  The Reds lined up 4-4-2, with Davies a late addition to replace the taken-ill Nathan Tyson.

The initial exchanges tended to favour the home side, and in defence at times we looked at sixes and sevenses, but fortunately we seemed to find just enough composure to deal with it.  Earnie did well to rob Pearce at the other end, teeing up Anderson who hit the target but couldn’t avoid the legs of Davies in goal for Southampton, winning a corner rather than getting a goal.  A real let off for Forest occurred when Thornhill gifted the ball to the hosts on the edge of the area, Surman’s shot had Camp well beaten only to ricochet off the post and to safety.

As against Blackpool, Forest were looking more dangerous from corners – and Thornhill was denied a goal by a late save from Davies, again the ‘keeper was on hand to deny Anderson who’d hit a curling shot towards the top corner.  He wasn’t able to do much to prevent the goal, though.  Lynch was fouled on the left hand side, from the resultant freekick Cohen played a perfect ball in for the unmarked Wes Morgan to rise and head powerfully into the top corner to give Forest a deserved lead.  In the stands it felt a little odd, like people weren’t sure if it counted or not – hard to describe.

In all honesty, Southampton had looked like we do at times – capable of knocking the ball around well – but bereft of confidence infront of goal, and ideas to create chances.  Fans chatted cautiously, jokingly announcing that “we’re bound to bugger it up, aren’t we?” whilst daring to dream that we could hold on to the lead, or better still, grab another goal to make sure.  Cautious joviality was the name of the game, because nobody wanted to jinx anything by admitting we’d actually looked mostly comfortable for a half.

Forest started the second half strongly too, Garner should’ve done better after Earnshaw had played the ball into the area for him, but he could only put it over.  Anderson was proving a tricky customer, forcing Skacel into a clumsy foul on him winning Forest a freekick in a dangerous position.  Earnie didn’t strike it particularly well, but we picked up another corner out of it – so all was not lost.  Southampton introduced the handbag-snatcher Bradley Wright-Phillips, to a series of amusing chants from the Forest fans.

The striker did look lively though, and did well until shooting wide.  The home side had a spell of pressure and it’s fair to say that there were a few twitchy sphincter moments – but the Forest defence held firm, with Wes in particular putting in a solid performance at the back.  Forest showed they were capable of counter-attacking, though – Davies did well to find Anderson, who looked to have definitely scored only for Kelvin Davies to somehow stick out an arm to concede another corner to the Reds.

We were to double our lead, of course.  And it was – as Smoulds put it in his post match interview – scored by a “spotty ginger lad”.  Moloney (who had another good game) put in a challenge the passed to Garner.  There didn’t look to be much on, but he’d clearly spotted Davies had gone walkabout in the Southampton penalty area, and audaciously chipped the ball into the top corner from 35-40 yards out – which caused a mixture of stunned disbelief and delirium amongst the Forest fans, and caused the Saints fans to start streaming for the exits.

Euell made sure Camp was still paying attention, drawing a save from the ‘keeper and winning a corner, but the stuffing had been knocked out of the hosts and they started to pose very little threat.  McGugan made a welcome return as a late substitute for Earnshaw, playing in a combination of midfield and upfront, and he looked lively and full of tricks, setting up a chance for Thornhill which drew another save from Davies, and finally putting McCleary through one-on-one which really should’ve made it three – but he took one too many touches and allowed the keeper to save.

The full time whistle came with cheers from the Forest fans and boos from the Southampton fans who’d chosen to remain – and it was a sizeable proportion of the 26,580 crowd who had already departed.  A vital and much needed result to see us into a crucial run of games against our fellow strugglers – and certainly made the long trip there and back seem more than worth the effort!  Last time we went miles and miles away and won 2-0, it was the start of a crucial run of results.  Can history repeat itself?  Here’s hoping!

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Oh what fun it is to see…

… the Forest win away! More later, battery dying.

They could’ve made it easier..

By just hosting it in Les-dar…