The kids are alright..

Goalscorer Cohen, one of our more senior players today at the ripe old age of 21.

Goalscorer Cohen, one of our more senior players today at the ripe old age of 21.

Nottingham Forest – 2
Queens Park Rangers – 2

A hard-earned point felt like a decent reward from a game where another threadbare Forest line up – this time in a 5-3-2/3-5-2 formation scrapped through a match with a very physical QPR side.  QPR chose to swap sides unusually at the start, so the Reds kicked towards the Trent End in the first half, giving Lee Camp an opportunity to take applause from all areas of the ground.

The game started scrappily, Forest had started reasonably well keeping the ball in the QPR half without really creating much of threat – but the visitors muscled their way into the game and started to threaten.  A Routledge corner was converted goalward by di Carmine but blocked by Moloney, the followup hit by Alberti but blocked on the line by Joe Heath.  Then, just what we need, Tyson goes off injured after someone smacked him in the head with something sufficient to need stitches – the referee of course didn’t notice anything.

Garner too was being pushed and kicked all over the park, the referee choosing broadly to ignore everything.  It became apparent Tyson wasn’t returning from his stitching session, and as such Adam Newbold was sent on in his place.  QPR’s best chance early doors was created from little by Miller (not Blackstock as I suggested on Twitter!), an over-head kick was easily within Smith’s reach but the ‘keeper mistakenly thought it was going off target.  Phew.

The first proper chance we had fell to Thornhill after good work from Heath finding him in the box, but his shot was weak and fairly easy for Camp to deal with – however, it seemed to galvanise us a little more.  Further Reds pressure eventually lead to a goal – McGugan chipped a nice pass to Chambers running into the box, who was promptly flattened by Alberti when through on goal.  As on Wednesday night, the referee chose to only give a yellow card despite the offence clearly being worthy of a red if you read through the rules of the game.

Excitement at our second penalty in two games (indeed, our second of the season!) was mixed with trepidation that we knew Camp is actually pretty handy at saving spot kicks.  Fortunately not in this case, he went the wrong way as Lewis finished his chance of comfortably – even had he guessed right, it would’ve taken some save to have kept it out.  This was pretty much at the end of normal time, but as we have found of late, we do seem to have a worrying tendency to lose our concentration.

Around three minutes into the stoppage time Connolly crossed low through bodies, it fell kindly for Alberti whose deflected shot left Smith with no chance – but leaves question marks over marking in defence.  Particularly when we were playing three at centreback.  It also highlighted the issue with 3-5-2/5-3-2.  Joe Heath had tracked their winger inside, leaving the wing open for their fullback Connolly to steal in and pick out a cross.  Of course, this is a problem Forest often have when deploying 4-4-2 as we don’t tend to have wide players who stay out wide!

Half time left a mixture of pleasedness and obvious residual annoyance at the late concession.  It wasn’t a pretty first half, it was scrappy.  The referee was a total disgrace, and in all honesty it was difficult to envisage anything other than a QPR win – but the kids were scrapping back too, and there was no denying their determination and fight – so it was a tempered rather than outright pessimism I think.  Something like that.

The second half started in a way that would really justify a degree of pessimism.  A bright start from the Reds saw Heath again provider of a decent cross, Thornhill burst into the box to get a looped header on it which saw it head on over Camp, but also just wide of the post unfortunately.  Then it went a bit wrong, Alberti was quicked to react than Moloney to an incoming cross and was able to fire it emphatically into the top corner from around six yards.  This brought the visiting fans to life, and it’s fair to say silenced the Reds fans.

Just as Forest were starting to string a few passes together and regroup, a long delay for Di Carmine to be treated (and eventually stretchered off) disrupted our flow, and once play resumed QPR were back on top.  Routledge did everything right cutting in from the right, except shooting on target – he dragged his shot wide.  Joe Garner – who was getting no change from the QPR defenders (nor the referee) was withdrawn for McCleary, and whilst it wasn’t related to the change – Forest equalised a minute later.

Wes did well to get the ball to Chambers on the right, he crossed in over everyone.  Camp did what most people scream at Smith to do every week – he came for a cross he shouldn’t have, and missed, Cohen’s header was weak in power – but on target and someone evaded two defenders and found its’ way into the goal much to our delight!  It certainly livened up the Reds fans and silenced the not-so-super Hoops, and started to get a bit of banter going.  It was amusing when the knuckle-dragger section down near the BC stand chanted for their manager to give them a way, only to be ignored!

There was more pressure to come from Rangers, and Forest started to do that customary thing of sitting deeper, and deeper, and deeper, and deeper – it was a bit of a worry!  Smith had one outstanding save to make after a good effort by Leigertwood, but Forest also looked potentially dangerous on the counter – Heath played McCleary down the left who passed inside to Cohen, sadly the midfielder couldn’t get much power behind his shot which was also pretty much straight at Camp.

This is the point when B reckin was put on for Thornhill, with Wes moving up front to assist the increasingly isolated Newbold up front.  Wes did well winning a ball in the air, and followed it up with what looked to me like a great challenge on the deck to win the ball.  The referee thought otherwise and booked him for it, which was rather harsh – but not entirely unexpected from this particular official.  The rest of the game was tense, without any clear cut chances – and a point was certainly more appreciated by the Forest fans than the sullen Londoners.

A good result – it’s disheartening to once again lose a lead as we did, but we forced QPR to do the same thing – and unfortunately didn’t quite have enough about us to try to force the winner.  A draw was a fair result, and a deserved one.  I was surprised at how physical/cynical QPR were, and also how well our kids dealt with it.  Certainly a side this young isn’t sustainable for us, but it gives hopeful glimpses of a rosier future.  For now though, we need to keep racking up the points!

Thanks to those of you who tuned in to Twitter.  It’s quite addictive during the game, although I’ll have to watch it as I almost kept missing things!