Safety not assured as relegation rivals all draw!

Dexter put Forest in the lead, but it was a lead they couldn't hold..

Blackpool – 1
Nottingham Forest – 1

And so it goes to the last day, maybe.  Because Norwich City have yet to play their penultimate game, they face Reading on Monday night infront of Sky cameras.  Basically, whatever the do in this game is what we must do in our remaining game against Southampton in order to guarantee safety.  Of course, the Canaries will have to play their final game too.

We drew, Barnsley drew, Plymouth drew, Southampton drew – consigning them to a bottom three finish, a relegation and a start in League One on minus ten points.  That means they come to the City Ground next Sunday very much in ‘playing for pride’ mode.  The fact that Derby managed to scrape a win against Charlton means any of you still harbouring hopes we’d sneak above them will have to wait ’til next season too.

So, on a pitch that did a more convincing job as an extension of Blackpool’s beach, Forest lined up with Smith, Chambers, Breckin, Morgan, Lynch, Perch, Gunter, Cohen, Osbourne, Blackstock and Garner.  On the bench were McCleary, McGugan, Earnshaw, Thornhill and Redmond.

It was the visitors who started strongest, a cross cleared unconvincingly and falling to Vaughan, who was charged down and blocked by Gunter before getting a shot away.  Another attempt from Crainey required an intervention from Wes Morgan and it was looking set to be a long game for Forest to try to work their way into.

And then the tides turned quite rapidly, Forest profiting from their first foray forward – Garner found Lynch, Lynch whipped in a cross, Dexter did well to get infront of his defender to meet the ball with an outstretched foot and divert it into the roof of the net to give the Reds the lead after less than ten minutes.  We must pull out the stops to sign Blackstock next season.

Forest, tails up, continued to attack.  Garner did well to beat former Stags defender Alex Baptiste putting Osbourne through – however his shot ended up wide, looking likely to have deflected off target on the shocking surface of the pitch.

Former Reds loanee Brett Ormerod equalised for the home side, he was found by Vaughan on the edge of the area, turning and shooting inside the post to level the match.  The remainder of the half didn’t produce a great deal of champagne football from either side, and it seemed that both sides were playing out ’til half time keen to avoid errors.

After half time McCleary replaced Breckin, prompting a reshuffle moving Chambers across into the centre of defence, and Gunter to right back.  Forest immediately went on the attack, culminating with a dangerous cross from Osbourne finding Blackstock seeking to add to his tally, but his effort was put out for a corner.

Cohen had a snapshot after being setup by Blackstock, Rachubka was equal to gethering it though, however, it looked like things might improve when Garner appeared to get through on goal – only to be pulled back by Evatt, this saw Evatt red carded, and the resulting freekick by Cohen bringing a decent save by Rachubka, giving the Reds a corner.

The corner was taken quickly, and Chambers almost did everything right – but his header was just over.  Billy immediately bolstered our attack by withdrawing Osbourne for Earnshaw to try to capitalise on our superior numbers, with Blackpool withdrawing into a very defensive position.  Forest applied pressure but couldn’t get a clear opportunity to score.

Blackpool weren’t adverse to attacking themselves either, a freekick conceded by Garner was hit goalward by Crainey – producing a great save by Smith.  Forest resumed their pressure, Perch met a cross but couldn’t beat Rachubka with a header, Earnie turned and struck a ball from McCleary but could only hit the side netting.

Earnie and Perch again were at the centre of a chance, colliding and the resulting header ending up off target.  The final chance fell to late substitute McGugan, who tricked his way towards goal before unleashing a damp squib of a shot straight at the Blackpool ‘keeper.  That was pretty much the last action of the game.

So Forest miss out the chance to secure safety this weekend, with other relegation rivals not picking up wins a win today would’ve been enough.  Should Reading do us a huge favour and beat Norwich on Monday evening, then we will be safe.  Should Norwich get a draw or a win then we will need to match that result against Southampton on Sunday.  Of course, there are then intricacies involving Barnsley and Plymouth – but it hurts my brain trying to think of it all!

So it could be a crucial point, or it could be a prelude to what promises to be a very tense weekend.  Either way, if we win against Southampton we will stay up.  So our fate is very much in our own hands.