Eight-nil, to the Nottingham!

Tys: A man of the match performance was tainted by being stretchered off after a horrendous foul by a Bantams youngster.

Nottingham Forest – 3
Bradford City – 0

Personally I was never interested in drawing comparisons with Notts County’s excellent opening day annihilation of this evening’s opponents, but certainly a few fans around me were.  It was perhaps as a result of this drubbing that Bradford had a very defensive look about them and opted for a stifling approach, which ultimately they weren’t able to maintain beyond the first half.  We started with:

McCleary   Morgan    Lynch    Cohen
Anderson   McGugan   Majewski    Davies
Blackstock    Tyson

With a substitutes bench of  Camp, Fairclough, Mitchell, Adebola, Garner, McGoldrick and McKenna.  I was surprised to see Smith in goal, must admit, and also the combination of Majewski and McGugan together.  I had pondered Forest’s foresight in only opening the Main Stand and the lower Trent End for Forest fans – but the total indifference to the fixture was confirmed with a pretty paltry 4,639 fans – 450 odd making another thankless trip to Nottingham from Bradford.

The first half was a scrappy affair.  Forest didn’t settle particularly well and Bradford harried and chased well.  Notable highlights were a McGugan freekick well struck forcing a save from Eastwood in goal for the Bantams.  Majewski was full of useful passing and forward momentum, a deflection took what looked like a goalbound shot out for a corner.

Tys, McCleary and Lewis all worked at finding ways through the City back line but were thwarted by the numbers back, and some stout defending.  Lewis was looking particularly lively, bursting through toward goal when he was cynically felled by Bradford midfielder Lee Bullock – who was duly booked.  I’ve seen less bad challenges attract a red card!

Blackstock and Tyson combined well when the latter flicked on the ball for Tyson to run on to, but the linesman’s flag was up for reasons best known to himself, as I didn’t think it was offside nor any other infringement took place.  The two combined again, this time Tys provider with a scooped cross to Dex who wasn’t able to get any power on his header making it easy for the ‘keeper.

So a promising if not exactly scintillating opening.  Bradford were attempting to soak up the pressure with the occasional break forward – which is probably rather fortuitous given our rather makeshift defence – but it was good that Forest largely continued their patient approach to breaking down their opponents and weren’t panicking over a lack of goals.

The lack of crowd probably helped on the lack-of-pressure stakes – what was interesting was the lack of ambient crowd noise meant you could clearly hear the Forest players constantly talking to one another.  Including the oft-maligned Paul Smith who was constantly advising his defenders of the whereabouts of opponents (although he did leave a clearance a bit late which he ended up shanking for a throw-in in the first half!).

A perfect start to the second half, though – Nathan Tyson chased down what looked to be a rather forlorn cause down the right, winning the ball but isolated by the goal line.  He turned inside and clipped a ball to the back stick where the onrushing Paul Anderson opted for the spectacular diving header rather than a volley to open the scoring for Forest.  A well taken goal, and a cracking assist.

Forest looked confident now and Bradford started to lose some of their disciplined stifling – McGugan was looking more dangerous putting in some nasty-to-defend looking corners, and a tricky cross which required Eastwood’s intervention to stop it falling for Cohen on the back stick.  It didn’t take long for Forest to find another chink in the visitors armour, though.

On the hour it was Tyson again the architect, Forest working the ball inside the fullback and utilising Nathan’s pace to get him round the outside and to the ball – this time down the left side enabling him to fire the cross in hard from the by-line toward Blackstock on the near post – who managed to contort himself to reach the ball at a not particularly easy height and put it past the ‘keeper on the volley.

Garner came on for Davies, with Tyson moving on to the wing and Joe up front, although it was Tys who was next bearing down on goal.  Blackstock did very well to hold onto the ball under challenge, and fed a tremendous throughball to Tyson who was haring down the inside right channel, Tys made no mistake with a powerful drive – however sadly for him Eastwood made no error either, making the save at the expense of a corner.

Shortly after this Dex and Majewski were withdrawn for McGoldrick and McKenna, and McKenna was instantly involved with some deft midfield passing – indeed, the captain was instrumental in the final goal – playing a fantastic pass through to Anderson making a good run down the right, he played it across goal where McGugan did well to make up the ground and slide in to put the ball into the net from a fairly tight angle.

The game ended on a sour note though – Bradford had already substituted Bullock after he somehow escaped a second yellow for another disgusting challenge, but youngster Jonathan Bateson made his debut one to forget after a horrifically late ‘tackle’ on Tyson – fortunately Tys had both feet off the ground, and Davies sounded upbeat about his prospects for the weekend despite the Forest striker being stretchered off.

Having used up all our substitutions, the red card served really only to even up the sides – but with very little time remaining it wasn’t to our detriment.  Tys was definitely man of the match, but there were many really pleasing things throughout the team performance today – although, of course, West Brom on saturday are going to provide a much sterner test for the Reds.

After being posed the inevitable questionr regarding news on the transfer front, Billy was fairly noncommital – although he does have that cunning way of – despite basically saying he doubted we’d have signed anybody by the weekend – leaving a glimmer of hope that we just might.  We shall see, I suppose, but for tonight – well played, lads!

The reward for this win is a home draw against fellow Championship side Middlesbrough to be played later this month, who rather impressively managed to beat nobody in the first round – having been given a bye.

Who would be in your top 50? Kris Commons wouldn’t be in mine!

Number one and number three celebrate perhaps their crowning glory!

These are always good articles to stimulate a bit of debate.  Of course, there is truly no metric that you can apply to players to come up with a definitive ‘best’ player, it’s highly subjective.  However, there’s a few weird ones in this list compiled by The Times.  Personally in my limited years I have no particular issue with Pierre Van Hooijdonk making the cut, however, one selection stands out as particularly odd.

Of course, Kris Commons ain’t a popular figure, but I will admit that he’s a talented player who in all honesty I would rather we still had.  But top 50 Forest players ever? Come on!  In a list that doesn’t have (bear in mind my early 30’s age grouping!) Brian Laws, Colin Cooper, Ian Woan, Teddy Sheringham and countless other players in it.  Not to mention Andy Reid who I’d rank above Commons every time!

Despite not being fortunate enough to see him play for us, there can’t be much argument with Robbo topping the pile, nor from me giving Stuart Pearce second place.  Indeed, with highly variable time periods governing my knowledge of players on the list, it’s really only Commons that jumps out as an anomaly. 

What do you think? Who is missing, who should be a few places higher or lower?  For ease here is The Times list.

1. John Robertson
2. Stuart Pearce
3. Peter Shilton
4. Des Walker
5. Ian Storey-Moore
6. Kenny Burns
7. Joe Baker
8. John McGovern
9. Nigel Clough
10. Wally Ardron
11. Duncan McKenzie
12. Viv Anderson
13. Trevor Francis
14. Roy Keane
15. Martin O’Neill
16. Bobby McKinlay
17. Archie Gemmill
18. Grenville Morris
19. Jack Burkitt
20. Sammy Chapman
21. Tony Woodcock
22. Ian Bowyer
23. Stan Collymore
24. Garry Birtles
25. Jim Baxter
26. Larry Lloyd
27. Peter Grummitt
28. Steve Hodge
29. Sam Widdowson
30. Johnny Metgod
31. Roy Dwight
32. Henry Newton
33. Frank Wignall
34. Bryan Roy
35. John O’Hare
36. John Barnwell
37. Steve Stone
38. Barry Lyons
39. Frank Clark
40. Jermaine Jenas
41. Billy Gray
42. Michael Dawson
43. Tom Peacock
44. Neil Webb
45. Liam O’Kane
46. Lars Bohinen
47. Kris Commons
48. Terry Hennessey
49. Steve Chettle
50. Pierre Van Hooijdonk

Forest vs. Bradford City preview..

So, Bradford City.  On the wrong end of a 5-0 shoeing courtesy of Notts County at the weekend, I imagine a nice cup upset would be exactly the tonic their manager and fans would like against Forest.  With upsets aplenty already being dished out to Sheffield United, Derby and Plymoth, we’ll need to be on our guard (I resist the urge to suggest that Notts County losing to Donny is an upset!).

We of course have a well publicised defensive dilemma.  Luke Chambers is suspended after Forest decided not to appeal his red card.  They also made a point of publicising the fact that they will not be fining him either – which would suggest that the p0wers-that-be are comfortable enough that he was dealt with harshly – but not quite confident enough in the football league’s proclavity to over-rule one fo their minions.

Gunter is away with Wales, as with Earnie, so I’m half expecting to see Lynch partnering Wes in central defence, and some makeshift fullbacks probably in the shape of Garath McCleary and Chris Cohen.  Should be interesting.  I am not sure to what extent Billy will use this game as an opportunity to test some fringe players ahead of the league action recommencing at the weekend.

I suspect not, I think Billy will be keen to get a good result on the board and as such field a strong side – obviously being forced to push midfielders into defence makes selections in the middle of the park easier, McKenna is likely to feature alongside possibly McGugan I’m thinking.  I reckon we’ll see Anderson on the right wing and Tyson on the left, with Blackstock and McGoldrick up front.

What do I know about Bradford’s current team? Not a fat lot if I’m being brutally honest – although they still have the evergreen Peter Thorne in their side, I remember a few years ago wishing we’d sign him.  He is currently worried that his teammates collapse when things go against them – so from our point of view getting an early goal or two could work wonders for us.

Victor Chandler can’t see past us triumphing, offering only 1/2  for the Forest win, and 5/1  for a Bradford win.  It’s hard to disagree, but then we all know what can happen in the the early cup stages – and given that I reckon 99% of us would take a dodgy result now in favour of getting a good league result against West Brom, it’s hard to imagine the players and staff don’t at least have similar thoughts looming at the back of their mind somewhere!

The football season is still very much in ‘new and shiny’ mode for me, so I’m still very much looking forward to getting down to the City Ground for our first home competitive action of the season.  I shall more than likely be Tweeting during the game (network allowing!), so point your Twitter clients at @nffcblog if you don’t already!