Sad to be Breckin up with Ian..

Firstly, I think that Billy Davies has made the right decision in suggesting Brecks seeks his future at pastures new – he still has a bit of playing to do, and if we can’t offer him a regular starting position then he should do so elsewhere.  And I imagine in doing so he’ll take the good wishes of Forest fans with him.

He joined us back at the start of 2005-2006 – and was an ever present in the side for league games, notching ten goals largely by nodding home Nicky Southall corners if memory serves.  In 2006-2007 he again featured in every league game although the goals started to dry up – only netting three in this season.

As times got more lean for the club last season Breckin found himself marginalised by Smoulderwood.  It was an emotional return to the side for him against Norwich at Carrow Road once the bronzen one was removed, and under Pemberton and later Davies, Brecks found himself called upon and never let us down.

So personally I’d like to thank Ian for his professional contribution to Forest over the last four years.  He’s had a long career spanning Rotherham, Chesterfield, Wigan and us – taking in more than 600 appearances.  All the best for the future, skipper!

The Reds sign off in style as the Saints go marching down..

And for my next trick..

"And for my next trick.."

Nottingham Forest – 3
Southampton – 1

Forest left it late to get to grips with already relegated Southampton, who were good value for their lead for the majority of the game.  Which says as much for Forest’s relaxed demeanor as it did for the endeavour of the visitors (check out the match-time tweets of @nottm_forest for an insight into this!).

The Reds were lead out by Ian Breckin, making his last appearance for us after Davies revealed he was not going to renew his contract.  The right decision undoubtedly, but that doesn’t change what a consummate pro Brecks has been for us through good times and bad – so I was a bit sad, but also very proud to see him get such a great send off from the Forest fans.

Southampton could’ve been in front after only a minute or so, Lallana crossed well to Euell who managed to hit the post.  Forest’s only real chance before conceding was a McGugan freekick which looked like a cheeky shot that Davies in the goal wasn’t expecting, forcing him to flap the ball over for a Reds corner.  Which came to nothing!

It was Lallana who was creator for Southampton’s goal, playing a through ball to Bradley Wright-Phillips who showed good composure to slot it to the side of the onrushing Paul Smith, giving it enough power to cross the line before the backtracking defenders could prevent the goal.  Understandably Forest fans took the goal in good humour.

Earnie was looking lively for us – he had a chance deflected wide for a corner, hit another just wide, and then did really well to give some power to a floated cross from McGugan – unfortunately Kelvin Davies was equal to it and made the save at his near post quite comfortably.  Of course, in picking out chances like this it makes the game sound quite exciting – it was mostly both sides giving possession away to one another in midfield.

However, Chris Gunter pulled out a real moment of magic – picking up the ball down the right he had Davies rush out to close him down, he did really well to dig out the ball right across the now open goal – unfortunately none of his teammates were gambling to convert what would have been an easy goal thanks to the fullback’s endeavour.

That brought about half time which saw Blackstock – who’d been limping (and had a good reception from the Southampton fans) withdrawn for Joe Garner.  Lewis McGugan started to look livelier, but was in very much ‘take it round every player on the pitch before shooting’ mode.  The Saints looked comfortable without being too threatening for the most part.

However, the Reds were starting to find inroads – a chipped ball by Moussi was almost perfectly met by Earnie on the volley, but it just ended up over the goal and into the Trent End.  Moussi was withdrawn for Anderson, with Cohen moving centrally and the winger was immediately involved by hitting a looping shot that Davies had to get back to palm over.

He went one better a minute later, finding his fellow substitute Joe Garner with a delicious pass that Garner was able to divert goalwards with a lobbed shot into the Trent End goal to give Forest an equaliser they were starting to look more deserving of.  It’s a slightly odd experience to celebrate a goal only to look at the away end and see them celebrating ironically too!

With just three minutes on the club Forest scored from a corner!  Of course, it would’ve been a fairytale for Brecks to get it, but Cohen’s excellent delivery was powerfully headed into the net by Luke Chambers to give Forest the lead.  There was still work for our defence though, Smith doing well to save a late effort by McGoldrick.

The game was sealed with the last kick of the game – Earnshaw tried to tee up Arron Davies (a substitute for McCleary) for a goal, but his shot was blocked leaving Earnie free to prod the ball home for his 17th goal of an injury-ravaged season.  And nobody in the ground looked happier than he did celebrating that goal – good on you Earnie!

The threats of pitch invasions never happened – although a group of Southampton fans led surreally by Spongebob Squarepants looked to be attempting to get onto the pitch.  Eventually the majority of away fans dispersed from the ground after heartily applauding their own team – and receiving applause from well-wishing Forest fans.

That left us with our own farewells for the season – Breckin came to say farewell, which was a nice touch, before Billy Davies really did only say a few words, and then the squad and staff did a lap of, well, not really honour – more a lap of thanks I suppose.  It was nice, regardless.  Whilst it’s hardly been a classic season, staying up was our objective and we’ve done it – and to only be a point behind them is impressive.

Commiserations to Charlton, Southampton and Norwich City who find themselves facing the prospect of League One and all that brings, congratulations to Wolverhampton Wanderers who were joined in automatic promotion by their fellow west midlanders Birmingham City, leaving Sheffield United, Reading, Burnley and Preston to contest the playoffs.

So those are the teams that leave us – next season we will be welcoming Leicester City and Peterborough to the City Ground, and one from MK Dons, Leeds, Millwall and Scunthorpe.  As for coming down to us, it’s very much unconfirmed but West Bromwich Albion look a certainty – whilst Middlesbrough and Newcastle United look likely.

It all makes for an interesting season!  With Forest opting to freeze their season ticket prices, one I’m looking forward to without reservation.  We’ve seen in the past that Forest can’t be relied upon for common sense on such decisions – so it’s great that the board have come to a sensible decision and released prices earlier than usual too!

Finally, big congratulations to Chris Cohen for his player of the year award – well deserved, and to Nathan Tyson for goal of the year.  I’ll still be around on the internet and updating throughout – but everyone have a great summer and we shall resume usual coverage levels when 2009-2010 kicks off!