Reds sign off preseason in style..

Nottingham Forest – 2
Birmingham City – 1

The heavens veritably opened for this game much as they had for the midweek game against Stoke.  The passing of Sir Bobby Robson was marked with a minute’s applause which was well observed, and also by black armbands worn by both teams (and, indeed, even Chris Fairclough had one over his training jacket, I noticed at half time).

The Forest line-up had similarities to Wednesday, perhaps starting to offer clues as to Billy’s thinking for the big kick off next weekend, Cohen returned to the side and Blackstock took the place he was scheduled to against Stoke but for a last minute mishap, relegating Tyson and Davies to the bench.

Gunter   Morgan   Chambers   Lynch
Garner   Majewski   McKenna   Cohen
Blackstock   McGoldrick

Forest totally dominated the first half an hour of the match, albeit mainly in possession and territory – with a few neat chances.  Garner looked much more adjusted to a midfield role and scrapped well to win the ball to feed to McGoldrick who produced a decent save from Birmingham ‘keeper Joe Hart.

Cohen on the other wing seemed more inclined to drift inside and get forward down the middle – which at times (and this will sound familiar) left our left flank looking exposed.  A couple of times Majewski looked to flick the ball out to the wing, only to find no winger there – obviously something he’s not quite used to yet – I imagine he’ll get used to it quite quickly!

As the half wore on the visitors looked a little more awake, former Reds loanee Gary McSheffrey had one chance to head goalward but missed the target, and Wes was on hand to prevent Johnson endangering our goal from a McFadden corner.  After sustaining a ten minute spell of improved play from the visitors though, Forest wrestled control of the game back from them.

A Majewski corner produced a great chance for Dexter Blackstock which was saved, with Birmingham desperately clearing their lines.  Forest retained possession deep in the Birmingham half, and eventually Joel Lynch delivered the killer ball into the box.  It was flicked on by Blackstock across the goal to McGoldrick who struck it in from no more than a yard out.

The second half saw the resumption of the horrendous rain, and it looked certainly like Birmingham might’ve had some stern words said to them at half time.  McSheffrey struck an excellent freekick into the box that found Martin Taylor who looked sure to have scored a header but for an excellent instinctive save from Lee Camp in the Forest goal.  The incident saw Taylor fall awkwardly and require stretchering off after lengthy treatment.

Forest introduced Adebola, Tyson and Earnshaw on the hour mark at the expense of McGoldrick, Blackstock and Cohen – the latter looking none too happy about being subbed!  Dele was immediately involved and a handful – finding himself on the end of a Majewski corner, creating another chance and shooting at the ‘keeper.

There was another chance for Adebola as the Birmingham defence had the terrifying prospect of both Wes and Dele attacking them – this time his shot deflected for a corner.  Forest introduced McGugan and McCleary for Garner and Majewski, and Lewis was soon in the fray unleasing a powerful 20 yard drive which Hart turned away.

Despite reasserting themselves on the game, it was Birmingham who next scored completely against the run of play.  Damien Johnson was completely unmarked as he was picked out down the right flank, pulling the ball back for Carsley to lash into the net giving the ‘keeper very little chance.  I’m not sure whether it should have been Tys back with Johnson – but Camp and Lynch seemed to think so.

All’s well that ends well, though, and Paul McKenna – capping off an excellent performance – fed the ball to the sharp-looking Robbie Earnshaw who made a monkey of Johnson before beating Hart with ease to restore Forest’s lead, before running off to perform a celebratory flip infront of the Main Stand.

A late chance to cap off his and Forest’s afternoon was Earnie’s too, after he dashed onto a loose ball to get there before Hart could – hurdling the ‘keeper’s late challenge and attempting to score from a pretty difficult angle.  He could have probably teed up a teammate in the box, but having created the chance and being the goalscorer he is, we can perhaps forgive his impulse to shoot!

The game ended with handshakes and applause to the crowd – except for Tyson who hotfooted it down the tunnel.  I can only assume still feeling indignant at whatever was said in the aftermath of Birmingham’s equaliser.  All in all, a good entertaining performance – from a more elevated seat it was clear the pitch has been narrowed, but I don’t think this made Forest play any less entertainingly.

Roll on next saturday, where a wedding means I’ll be trying to sneak my way to a radio rather than travelling to Reading.  Rubbishness!

As a sidenote, BBC One are currently showing a tribute to Sir Bobby Robson, it’s got to a re-run to his lifetime achievement award presentation – what an inspirational man he was.  Once again, may you rest in peace, Sir Bobby.

Reds finish friendlies with a flourish..

Nottingham Forest – 2
Birmingham City -1

Entertaining match. Started with a well deserved minute-long applause in honour of Sir Bobby Robson. Culminated in a well deserved win for the Reds, with goals from McGoldrick and Earnshaw either side of a consolation goal for Carsley (Derby reject).

More later, in the spirit of well-deservedness I’m away for a few pints this evening!

This was written on the mobile straight after the game, a more detailed report is available by clicking here.