Lewis header earns draw against disappointing Jacks..

Nottingham Forest – 1
Swansea City – 1

I was half looking forward to and half dreading Swansea coming to the City Ground, because they’re a side I really rate and admire.  Roberto Martinez is a progressive manager who has patiently assembled an attractive side who – unsurprisingly for me – are challenging for a play off place in the Championship.  So today was a bit of an anti-climax on that front, because our visitors were either seriously below par, or I was wrong.  Or, gratifyingly, Forest nullified their threat with a battling performance.  I suspect all three elements were a factor today which saw Forest earn a point that was the very least they deserved this afternoon.

The Reds roared out the blocks and immediately forced a corner from a McSheffrey cross, the corner didn’t come to anything however Chambers was soon taking the ball forward and finding Earnie, who will be kicking himself he didn’t net from close range – striking over instead.  Anderson made it three chances in the opening exchanges by running at the defenders, cutting inside two defenders before hitting a cracking looking strike which was just wide with De Vries beaten.

Our visitors knocked the ball around well and always looked to break quickly though, and it was the youngster Allen who had the first meaningful chance – a shot from around 30 yards which was close but wide, with Paul Smith watching it all the way.  Scotland is of course always a threat for the Welsh side, but he was being well marshalled by Kelvin Wilson and he did well to get in the way of a chance that fell to the striker and clear the ball.

Moussi and Osbourne – who do look alike from a glance, and with close squad numbers too could lead to confusion ongoing – combined well with a one-two before Osbourne struck a lovely shot from 25 yards which was headed toward the top corner – but just didn’t quite dip enough, clipping the crossbar.  A Forest freekick due to a cynical hack by Leon Britton on Anderson was struck well by Cohen, bringing a save from De Vries at the expense of a corner.

The chance of the half though fell to debutant McSheffrey – Lynch ran well down the left and fired in a perfect cross, over De Vries and dropping invitingly for the loanee to convert, but unfortunately his shot went right across goal and wide.  It wasn’t an ‘easy’ chance as such – and given his lack of match practice it’s forgivable – but it was a glorious chance that Lynch had provided him.  This was pretty much the last act of the first half – one that Forest were easily the better side, but Swansea showed signs of danger on the break.

The second half saw McCleary – in disgustingly lurid green boots – enter the fray at the expense of Anderson, post-match Billy suggested this was purely to rest the youngster rather than through injury.  Forest started the half as they had finished the first, by keeping De Vries on his toes in the Swansea goal.  Chambers found Cohen who hit the ball viciously from a difficult position – it was heading at pace for the top corner and the ‘keeper did excellently well to keep it, tipping it over for a corner.

But that combination of De Vries’ heroics and our own wastefulness looked to have bitten us on the arse, Swansea found Bauza in the box unmarked, Smith came haring off his line (I wonder how much that has to do with the amount of people saying he never does?  Either way, he shouldn’t have this time), only for the ball to be casually chipped over him to the similarly unmarked Jason Scotland who probably netted his easiest goal of the season to date.  Very disappointing, and we actualy got to hear the travelling Swansea fans who’d been pretty quiet (and not particularly numerous) up until taking the lead.

A real kick in the teeth given the balance of play, but Forest remained positive as did most of the fans – Lewis was introduced with a little over twenty minutes on the clock for the increasingly tired looking McSheffrey.  A promising debut from the loan man, but he does lack match sharpness – but nonetheless, I’m still excited by the prospect of having him on board once he gets up to full fitness.

McCleary did well to get the ball to Lewis who went for goal rather than finding Earnie who was well placed – De Vries having a relatively easy job clearing.  Just as we were kicking ourselves though, we did get the goal we easily deserved.  Joel Lynch picked up the ball on the left, my neighbour was screaming for someone to make the run down the left for him to play it to, which they didn’t, so said “You’re gonna have to do it yourself, Joel!”, and do it himself he most certainly did!

He advanced forward, taking on his man before firing in an absolutely sublime cross which was met by the equally sublime run by Lewis, who kept his composure to head emphatically past De Vries from 6 yards to gain the Reds a much deserved equaliser.  Shortly after Osbourne was withdrawn for Perchy to a standing ovation – another good game for the Aston Villa youngster, and another withdrawal to try to keep him fresh having played two games in quick succession after not a lot of first team football.

The visitors weren’t out of it though, and Gomez seemed to have all the time and space in the world to pick out his shot which Smithy did very well to dive and save at the expense of a corner.  But Forest too were looking for opportunties to break – Moussi found Lewis down the right, he played in a lovely ball to give Earnie a rare half chance – and De Vries was somewhat lucky to just get a leg to it to prevent the goal.

Another half-chance for Earnie came in the shape of an overhead kick which was just over – Earnie had a frustrating afternoon, he worked his arse off but chances were limited for him, which is a pity.  The game played out with more end-to-end stuff – Forest finished strong, but couldn’t break down the visitors, who as I aluded to above, on the whole disappointed me in lots of ways.

I’ve heard their style described as ‘Continental’ – and that would fit the last few clashes I’ve seen between us and them, but this time around the only thing continental about their performance was their players diving all over the place.  And the referee falling for it nearly every time.  Very disappointing.

But still, the Reds did well for the third time in three games – we should’ve and could’ve won this, however, before the Reading game I said to whoever would listen that I’d be happy with four points from the next three games – so to have gotten seven is excellent.  We’ve proven we can mix it with the better teams in this league – now we need to sort out our performances against the rubbish ones.  Starting with Watford on tuesday.  I’ve got faith in these boys again.