Patchwork Reds can’t hold off rivals..

If them bastards had got me some more players.. oh, is that mic on!?

Billy: "If them bastards had got me some more players.. oh, is that mic on!?"

Nottingham Forest – 2
Derby County – 3

Concentrating on the league, no more cup distractions, no shame in a threadbare squad losing despite trying hard?  These are all things I’ve heard and read, and they’re all correct – but I’m still mighty pissed off regardless.  American owners must lead to Americanised fans – as they mechanically twirled their freebie scarves in their jester hats whilst bouncing up and down to the Fratellis, it was nice to have them quietened for a while – but well, Forest fans know better than most not to count their chickens!

What looked like a dream start turned into a nightmare as a makeshift Forest side was unable to hold on against a slow-starting opponent.  A short corner was cursed by all and sundry (self included!), but despite sloppy passing, somehow Cohen was left free to wallop the ball into the net.  McGugan caught a Tyson pass beautifully on the volley, but alas straight at the keeper.  No fear though, Tyson did well to get around the keeper shortly after, he was felled and won our first penalty of the season – which is stroked calmly into the top corner.

However, nobody knows a team’s ability to bottle a big game better than a Forest fan – whilst outwardly glee was on show, inwardly we all prayed we could hold out ’til half time with the two goal cushion intact.  Space for Teale to cross, space for Hulse to head, 2-1 and things are a lot more tense.  It was an excellently placed header, but a bloody soft goal to concede, frankly, and it did rather start to knock the stuffing out of us, and gave our visitors a way back into the game earlier than we would have liked.  Prior to this the generally quiet-so-far Commons had done well and brought an excellent save from Smithy.

It looked for a moment Lewis had been shoved in the box, indeed, he had been – but his rather theatrical response to that (something Derby players evidently have much more practice at – albeit outside the box) earned him a booking rather than the penalty many fans thought we’d got (come on, two in one game?!).  This pretty much brought us into half time, a mix of cautious optimism and tension filled the home fans.

The second half started in a quick fashion, Perch won a superb tackle on the edge of the Derby box, the ball falling kindly for Cohen whose shot was well saved by Bywater at the expense of a corner.  However, Forest were starting to look disjointed and the visitors were putting on more pressure.  The equaliser came in pretty much identical circumstances to their first goal, Teale was given toomuch time to cros from the left – this time it was Paul Green on hand to place a gentle header into the net.  Frustrating.

Kris McCommons, I must regrettably say, looked lively – and he was starting to look a danger, a deflected effort just missed, and Forest only really looked capable of threatening on rare counter attacking forays.  One of these saw Tys burst down the left channel, but agonisingly away from goal – he did really well to cut the ball back to find McCleary on the back stick, unfortunately he couldn’t get enough power to restore the lead, giving Bywater the chance to make the save for another Reds corner.

This miss, combined with what was to follow, were the moments that lost the game for us.  The next event was Perch’s injury.  Now, we’ve talked about Perch at length before, but today he was having a good game – and part of his role was tracking that elusive Commons ‘in the hole’ roaming.  It’s true the fat one had his moments prior to this, I already grudgingly accept he played well, but without Perch on hand to tidy up between midfield and defence, it was starting to look rather ominous for Forest.

First Green seemed to stroll through a few challenges and into the box, he’d done all the hard work and proceeded to drag his shot wide.  Commons wasn’t closed down from range and hit an absolute belter from 30 odd yards off the foot of the post and away.  We almost learned, a minute later there was a block of sorts on a Commons shot, sadly it was a mere deflection which wrong-footed Smith and gave Derby the lead.  He almost got another just after too.

Then comes the promising bit, with youngsters Heath, Byrne and Newbold on the pitch, the Reds did keep fighting – we just didn’t have enough about us, enough composure nor enough luck I guess to get that equaliser.  Cohen had another good effort from 25 yards, but it curled annoyingly to Bywater.  Wes – operating as an emergency striker (since we didn’t have any left!) did well to cross to Byrne on the back stick who put a shot wide from an embarrassingly close distance.

Despite effort, composure was lacking in the five minutes of stoppage time, and after those chances it’s fair to say Derby’s goal didn’t really come under much pressure.  Derby forced a late corner which was taken short to bring about the final whistle and pandemonium in the away end, dejectedness in the home ends.  A very disappointing evening, for sure – although on balance, I would – in all honesty – rather take three points on saturday.  Although with another injury to Perch, and Tyson feeling a tight hamstring, the chances don’t look good.

I find it hard to criticise the players or Billy Davies for the performance – McGugan still minced around a bit, but the lads did get stuck in, and on another day would’ve snuck a win or a draw, this was a close game as the scoreline suggests.  Derby are to be reluctantly congratulated for not letting their heads drop at 2-0.  What can be criticised is another substandard transfer window performance by the transfer committee at Nottingham Forest.  The manager said he needed players, it’s painfully obvious to anyone we need players – so why the goddamn hell did we make derisory offers for players on deadline day itself?

This is an annoying habit we’re forming which has to stop.  So, thinking about the league we need to start picking up points – we also need to assemble a side that can see about getting us a nice bit of revenge on 21st Feb, because if I had to choose a league or cup win even before today, then it would’ve been a league win, so let’s look forward to that and do it all over again.  And of course, good luck to Manchester United in round five.  So down, but not out – it was good to hear Billy’s pragmatism after the game, but I won’t pretend it didn’t hurt, nonetheless.

The very insignificant silver lining was that the Twitter experiment seemed to work well – so I might just carry on with that, thanks for those of you who followed and commented.  I’m only sorry it wasn’t a better outcome for the maiden voyage of twittering!