2-0 to the referee..

Improved second half, on balance of play Cardiff dominant but Tyson put what looked a perfectly fair challenge on the keeper to head into the waiting goal. It’s true we created sod all else, but that would have been the equaliser.

Ho hum, on balance of play the Bluebirds just about edged it, neither team were much kop though, and the referee was infuriatingly receptive to both their diving and the home crowd who deigned to make noise occasionally in support of their diving mincers.

Good goal by Bothroyd though, to compound our misery! I’m off for beer in the Welsh capital tonight, so more tomorrow upon my return to civilisation.

Half time at Ninian library..

This is the most ill-deserved place for having an intimidating atmosphere attributed to it. Our team isn’t as depleted as first feared, it’s been a scrappy game considering the form both teams have been in lately.

The Bluebirds are good value for their lead, the referee takes his cue from the home crowd for decisions, except when Wes looked to have conceded a penalty at one point!

Hopefully we improve..

Out amongst the walking wounded..

The game against Cardiff City tomorrow promises to be rather experimental one. With oodles of injuries, and no incomings in the transfer market we really will have a makeshift look about us when we take the field. Cohen, Lynch, Benno and Moussi are unavailable, with doubts over Earnie, Tys, Brecks and Davies. It seems almost certain that a few the academy lads will be stepping into the breach against the very much in-form Bluebirds.  In better news, Wes Morgan might be able to return to defence.

Of course, we’re in good form too – but we’re looking rather lightweight upfront now, and indeed in defence – and, um, well, midfield looks a bit thin on the ground when you think about it!  This would be a tricky fixture with a full strength squad, which makes this trip all the more difficult.  However, a great opportunity for Davies and Kelly to test their managerial nous in trying circumstances – whilst I am very much heartened by their regime so far, I still can’t quite see how they’re going to deliver a result out of this.  I’m looking forward to the trip, though!

If nothing else, it underlines the fact that Forest must strengthen before the transfer window closes on the 2nd February at 5:00pm.  There don’t seem to be any cast iron rumours, quite usual when a new management team takes over, and my natural mistrust of January transfer windows in general means that I remain fairly pessimistic.  However, the weekend threatens to upset our momentum quite severely – so will hopefully add to the sense of urgency from the Forest end to secure whatever players they’re after.

Ho hum!  Watching Derby become a selling club (well, a loaning club) is at least keeping us smiling for now – a tough trip awaits, although I could probably smile through any level of a beating if the rumours of Newcastle wanting to sign Commons from them!

Oh yes, and content from this site is now being syndicated on Lost That Loving Feeling (or LTLF for short), which historically has always been one of the most popular Forest websites and message boards, so posts on this site will appear on there intermingled with their (excellent) in house writing team, as well as updates from my fellow Forest bloggers eighteensixtyfive.  A good idea I think.

Second chance to see Big Norm!

Click the picture for the full sized flyer

Click the picture for the full sized flyer

I’ve been kicking myself ever since missing Big Norm’s last appearance at The Approach, where by all accounts he stole the show and kept the crowd amused to great acclaim – and giving Nigel Jemson very little chance to have a similar opportunity on the night!

So I will be hot footing it down to Friar Lane on 12th February, where Norm will be sharing a stage with ‘Sir’ Charlie Palmer, who scored a pretty meaningless goal once upon a time that Notts County fans – sad as they are – still celebrate, indeed, that’s why he is often dubbed with a black and white striped knighthood by our nearest neighbours!  Of course, you will remember that in 1993-94 during Frank Clark’s first season, Palmer scored the decisive goal in a 2-1 victory for the Magpies at Meadow Lane over Forest.

That season, in what would now be called The Championship, saw Forest promoted and Notts County just miss out on the play offs.  So whilst Notts fans were getting unhealthily excited watching the video released of the game, Forest fans were celebrating a return to the top flight at the first attempt.  Ho hum!

Anyway, I digress, The Approach, Friar Lane, 12th February, doors at 7:00pm from 7:30pm you can watch highlights of the game, and later in the evening enjoy a dramatic reenactment of the goal – since t’was Big Norm between the sticks that day!  Just £10 including a pie and peas (genius!), or £27.50 which will give you a three course meal too!  You can pick up tickets from The Approach, The Globe, Southbank or call John on 07522565524, and take in what promises to be a cracking night’s entertainment with Mark Crossley and some bloke who is famous for dressing up as a barcode!

Exclusive: Agent Clough revealed..

After some ingenious snooping by one of our network of spies, a memo from the City Ground addressed to Derby County manager Nigel Clough was intercepted.  It congratulated him on his excellent progress in dropping the Rams into the relegation zone of The Championship pretty much as quickly as it was possible for him to do so.

The accompanying dossier identifies Clough as the perfect candidate to carry out this operation, with his proximity to the club and of course the magic surname that affords him patience.  As the transfer window draws to a close, Rams fans will be anxiously checking the news to see if their non-league management and coaching team have managed to bring in any new faces to change their fortunes.

The memo finished simply with “Phase one is a success, now onward to phase two, Agent Clough.”

Naturally we await phase two with great interest!

Forest come back to defeat Owls..

Topped off a decent performance with a goal

Chambers: Topped off a decent performance with a goal

Nottingham Forest – 2
Sheffield Wednesday – 1

I must admit I was a bit worried when I saw the team, following the injuries picked up against the Sheep left us without Anderson and Cohen, seeing McCleary and Anderson enter the side.  Better news (sorry Joel) was that Lynch wasn’t available, giving Joe Heath a chance to impress at left back.  It was heartening to hear Billy Davies speak of moves being afoot to bring in some players – because we have some key injuries and a thin squad.

However, another three points sees us four points clear of the bottom three, on a great run of form and hopefully giving the players increased confidence to kick on to safety as quickly as possible.  It was a miserable evening which proved to have an impact on players ability to pass and control the ball well, and despite the short distance it was an impressive away following from the Yorkshire club, ready to spur on their side to victory.  It’s also always nice to see Lawsy back at the City Ground.

It was a scrappy start, with Wednesday having the first attempt on goal straight at Smithy at which point an end to end game started to develop.  Arron Davies looked lively early doors, and Tyson continued his recent good form – breaking down the left and crossing which almost paid dividends when an Owls clearance rebounded off a defender and headed goalward, but too gently to trouble the keeper.  As we’d seen before, though, just as Forest showed promise, they went behind.

A corner was hit in, Tys wasn’t able to get his head on to it to clear allowing Wood to head down for Johnson to score.  Frustrating given the timing, and myself and many other fans weren’t quite in the same mindset that the players are lately, because that’s the kind of sucker punch that’s taken the stuffing out of Forest before our recent run of form.  Fortunately today that was to prove not the case, as Forest were to hit back quickly.

There aren’t words to describe the tremendousness of the throughball that Garath McCleary picked out – the winger broke forward centrally from his own half, taking on a couple of Owls players before picking out an absolutely perfect pass to release Nathan Tyson who had made the perfect run to meet it, took it in his stride before unleashing a powerful shot over Lee Grant and – and I’ll admit I was worried it was going over – into the top of the net to give us an emphatic equaliser.

Shortly after this Francis ‘wingnut’ Jeffers lost the ball lazily to Joe Heath, and decided to respond by lunging in on the youngster with both feet off the ground, leaving him floored and in need of treatment.  Unusually the referee was very decisive and immediately held aloft a well deserved red card.  It took Jeffers a while to leave the pitch and for play to resume, when it did the visitors’ dirtiness continued – Lewis Buxton was fortunate to only be booked for an ugly challenge on Davies.  These incidents had distracted from a resurgent Forest, so eventually half time was a welcome break.

The second half began with a booking for Brecks, definitely a foul on Tudgay – the resultant theatrics probably cost him the card.  The freekick was taken from out on our left, and it was a good delivery by Gray which found Tudgay unmarked on the back stick, he headed into the side-netting though – fooling many of the visiting fans into thinking they had retaken the lead, much to the amusement of the home supporters.

It was the home fans’ turn to look a bit silly following that, Tyson was clearly fouled as he played McCleary through, who broke through and finished with aplomb past Grant.  Unfortunately he was offside so it was disallowed, the referee not really thinking that there wasn’t much advantage in that situation and not bringing back play to where Tyson was fouled.  As the half went on, it was increasingly tough to tell which side had ten men as Wednesday moved the ball well.  

Earnie had picked up a bit of a knock, and was withdrawn for Joe Garner, and as Forest continued to struggle to make headway, Davies withdrew his increasingly anonymous namesake for Thornhill as Forest started to press home their advantage in numbers – McCleary and Tyson combined well to force a save from Grant.  Their tails most definitely up, finally McGugan delivered a great corner which found Chambers at the near post, he headed it across the goal and it went in off the far post to an erupting City Ground.

We thought it was going to be three too, Tyson won the ball on the right and passed to an unmarked Garner whose early shot was curling beautifully inside the near post – Grant did very well to get a strong hand to it and concede a corner.  It was a tense finish with the visitors piling on pressure – but Forest brought on Moloney and shored up, and whilst it was nerve-wracking, held strong and got another well earned three points.  A cracking way to spend an evening!

Don’t mention the draw!

Can you remember not that long ago a cup win against Luton Town would’ve landed us a draw against Liverpool?  Can you remember what happened?  People talked as if it were going to happen, we went to Kenilworth Road (never the most fun of trips) and we lost in a rather shameful performance.

Well, today the winner of the replay between ourselves and the Sheep will have the opportunity to welcome Manchester United for a fifth round encounter.  That would give us the opportunity of a Manchester double this season (they can’t be that good if Derby can beat them over 90 minutes), or it would give Derby the opportunity to reacquaint themselves with Sir Alex Ferguson’s side.

Right, so remember, don’t mention the draw – I mentioned it once, but I think I got away with it…

Sheepish highlights..

Are here.

Courtesy of ESPNStar.com.  Pretty poor commentary, but still!  I guess this a game that most of you have actually had a chance to see, anyway!  Our goal was very similar, but better as Earnie had a turn to make.

Just before our goal goes in, you can hear the bizarre ‘going down’ chant the Derby fans were coming out with – it goes to the ‘Brian Rice song’ tune (which, I suppose, is actually ‘Yellow Submarine’ by the Beatles.

Commons’ miss with his first touch was actually pretty shocking, although his second attempt at goal was a terrific effort which Smith did the right thing with.  The save from Hulse’s header was even better than I remembered!

Anyway, enjoy them!

And we’ll all go mad when, we have to play them again!

made wonder saves to earn us a replay

Smithy: made wonder saves to earn us a replay

Derby County – 1
Nottingham Forest – 1

And so we must play them about three times in a month, with three years of being parted this season is turning into overkill on the Forest vs Derby rivalry (I refuse to include the nonsense that is that ill-conceived BC Trophy friendly).  The replay will be a week on Wednesday.

The news that Billy Davies was unable to attend the game was met with some derision initially, until it was confirmed that it was due to his desire to be with his son after undergoing a major operation.  It kind of puts things into perspective really, and even an event as huge to us as a game against Derby pales into insignificance in the face of such events.  So naturally, and I’m sure you all join me, first and foremost we wish a speedy recovery to Davies Jnr, and send our best wishes to Billy and Martha Davies who must be worried sick.

So, having been herded from the train station to the ground it was already pretty full.  To be honest, the atmosphere at these games always ends up being an anticlimax for me; because football chanting has gotten so unimaginative, from both sets of fans.  Although I do like the ‘Commons is judas..’ chant, I must admit.  Oddly the Derby fans seemed to be chanting about our impending relegation – poor loves can’t have seen a league table lately can they?  Let alone a form table!

So, it transpired that Wes too has familial issues so was forced to miss the game – a big miss for us, and of course I extend the same good wishes to Wes and family at a tricky time.  Ned shuffled the deck and put Lynch at left back with Wilson returning to the centre to partner Brecks, with Chambers at right back.  In midfield Cohen, Perchy, Lewis and Anderson lined up in a flat four, with Earnie and Tyson up front.  The notable omission from the Sheep line up was Commons, who was on the bench, with Barnes starting the game.  Savage too was in the starting line up, which I must admit before kick off I was pretty happy about.

The teams were led out by a sheep, which is basically the Derby equivalent of a cheer leader – something for the male members of the crowd of that way inclined to have a perve over, and the sides took to the field to that godawful music that I’v e never bothered to identify that Derby come on to the pitch to.

The first half was, in honesty, best forgotten – a scrappy game of football between two struggling sides – with the home side slightly on top, and probably deserving their lead they took into half time.  There were flashes of good things from Forest – Earnie did well to get the ball in a crossing position, but supposed Forest-target Stephen Bywater did well to get between him and Tyson.  A long ranger from the diminutive striker shortly after was straight at the keeper.  Despite Derby’s possession, they hadn’t mustered a shot on goal yet.

Teale provided Smith with his first test, skipping through two Reds defenders down the left but ultimately landing a tame shot at Smithy.  Forest appeared to be sitting back to hit on the counter – which, frankly, is always a bit terrifying as a spectator who has watched Forest try to defend for a concerted period before.  That said, Derby suffered quite a bit of ‘poor last decision’ syndrome that we too are familiar with.  Smithy was on his toes to put a rare shot on target from Barazite round the post for a corner.

The home side did, as we know, take the lead though – and it was a well worked goal – Connolly made a good run down the right and crossed into the box, one player dummied it leaving Rob Hulse the opportunity to strike a well-placed shot low into the goal giving Smith (who still gets maligned by random idiots in the Forest crowd) no chance to make the save.  This understandably rather amplified the home fans, and quietened the Forest fan.  Forest sustained some more pressure before going on the offensive, Tys won us our first corner of the game with an effort saved by Bywater, the referee denied us our second when the ‘keeper clearly made a save from Earnie but instead he gave a goal kick.

Ned obviously did some good work at half time, the first thing he did was replace Joel Lynch with Garath McCleary – I don’t like singling out players for criticism, but Lynch is appalling.  I realise he’s not actually a left back but well, he’s just not good.  Garath went out on the right, Anderson switching to the left, with Cohen tucking in at left back which is a waste – but given the options open to us the best choice I think.  We really do need to acquire a credible left back solution in the transfer window.

The evidence of further good work during the half time team talk was apparent immediately – Forest looked much more ‘up for it’ and created their first chance early after Wilson broke forward well to find Tyson, who brought a routine save from Bywater.  Another Tyson break saw him kicking his heels awaiting his teammates catching up before being forced to cross before any other Red shirts could make it forward in support.  Forest were starting to play with more purpose and it started to wake the travelling support up – and quell the pretty-quiet-already home fans.

McCleary was starting to have an impact on the right – offering more of an ‘I’ll take you on’ type of play compared to Anderson’s earlier ‘run-at-them-with-pace’ solution.  He got one ball in to Chambers whose effort was blocked, and shortly after provided the ball that would get us the equaliser.  In an almost carbon-copy of the Derby goal a cross came in from McCleary on the right, Tyson dummied and Earnie received the ball, turned and struck an excellently placed shot past Bywater to send the away end completely mental.

Kris McCommons was introduced shortly after, to a suitably rousing unwelcome from the Forest fans – although the Derby fans do seem to have genuinely taken to the pie muncher.  He immediately had an opportunity to make himself a hero, put he put his shot over the bar rather than on target.  After this there was a delay after Anderson had gone to ground under a challenge from Connolly.  It appears the loanee landed awkwardly on his arm – which has subsequently been shown to be a fracture to his forearm and a dislocated wrist.  Ouch.  Hopefully the jeering Sheep fans to our left feel a bit silly for suggesting he was milking it.  Fools.

So, latest on the list of good wishes are to Anderson who has just started to make his mark in the side, I think.  He will apparently miss around six weeks during recovery, which is bad news – all the best to you Paul, and here’s hoping for a speedier-than-predicted recovery.  Get lots of green veg down you for the carbon and vitamin D content!

Arron Davies was put on to replace the injured McCleary, and once the game recommenced Forest had lost their rhythm somewhat allowing the home side to come back into it.  Fatty turned and hit an excellent long range shot which Smithy did well to get two fists to, and see it safely over the bar for another corner.  Derby, sensing a late winner to ease the pressure on their new three-games-no-wins gaffer, piled forward.  Smith pulled another amazing save out the bag to deny Hulse a headed goal from six yards, and then again from a Luke Varney effort.

There were six minutes of added time, during which Earnie was subbed, to an ovation from the Forest fans and some boos from the Derby ones, Garner was his replacement but to be honest, the game finished how it had begun with lots of scrappiness and not a great deal of cohesion from either team.  It ended properly after Cohen went in very late and scythed down Varney, injuring himself in the process.  He picked up a yellow card for his troubles, and also heralded the arrival of full time.

A good way to judge a result is by the fans reactions – the Derby fans mostly trudged off (whoever designed Pride Park didn’t think about the logistics of people getting out, as often Derby fans will want to leave quite quicky I would’ve thought!) as it takes AGES.  The Forest fans were content to stay and applaud and chant for their team – particularly Earnie who was absolutely loving it.  Ultimately, I think a draw was fair as I said yesterday – but we can thank Smith in particular for the opportunity to have a replay, when hopefully Billy and Wes will be back in the fold.

Quick summary..

Poor game, fussy ref, fair result. Bring on the replay, and perhaps more importantly than anything my best wishes go to Billy Davies on the news his son has been taken ill.