Unlucky Reds succumb to Baggies defeat

Earnie: Created our best chance, then buggered it up!

Earnie: Created our best chance, then buggered it up!

Nottingham Forest – 0
West Bromwich Albion – 1

I was trying to work out after the game what kind of post-match blues is worse, there’s the ‘lost and thoroughly deserved it’ blues, the ‘lost and didn’t deserve it’ blues or ‘the referee is a knobjockey and cost us that’ blues.  Today was the middle variant, whilst the referee was undoubtedly a knobjockey, I’m not sure that any of his randomly crap decisions directly lead to anything awry.

Forest, for their part, created chances, missed some that looked like they should result in goals, had a goal disallowed (Billy says there was ‘no infringement’ but I thought I saw Garner shoving their defender), missed a penalty and of course the goal we conceded was an unfortunate own goal – from memory (and a bit of a helpful reminder from @nottm_forest) this and an early first half effort were the only efforts on target West Brom mustered.

West Brom, for their part, paid us quite a compliment – they niggled, they timewasted and they dived – and for the most part, the referee utterly failed to stamp any authority in order to shelve this kind of needless gamesmanship.  It does leave a rather nasty taste – and is not the way I thought of the Baggies in the past.  Still, never mind.  Whilst we were unlucky, we were largely the architects of our own downfall.

We lined up with a reasonably predictable line-up (I think the only one I got wrong was I had McGoldrick or Earnie to start rather than Garner)..

Gunter     Morgan     Lynch     Cohen
Anderson    McKenna    Majewski    Tyson

Subs: Smith, Mitchell, Davies, McGugan McGoldrick, Blackstock, Earnshaw

Garner was often up front too, but he seemed to be definitely playing in a link-role between midfield and attack, with Forest packing out midfield somewhat presuably to try to nullify the quality of the players the Baggies had in there, not least influential Jonathan Greening.

The first half was tentative, mostly – although both sides had early chances, Tys struck wide from distance first.  After four minutes West Brom had a freekick struck well by Chris Brunt that Camp was able to prevent heading into the top corner with a smart save.  Forest’s first chance on target was less impressive, as a fairly tame Adebola header from a corner was fairly simple for Carson to deal with.

Majewski was the next to test the ‘keeper from distance – again, not greatly troubling him – he would perhaps have been better to look for the running strikers ahead of him and slotted a throughball into one of them.  A cross from Forest-target Joe Mattock caused some degree of headless-chickening in the defence – fortunately McKenna was on hand to tidy up at the expense of a corner.

Probably the second-best chance of the game for us came towards the end of the first half – Tyson determinedly won the ball from a West Brom defender by the byline and cleverly waited for Anderson to get into position before finding him, his shot was well blocked and the ball fell for Adebola who, at an awkward angle, was only able to direct the ball just wide of the post.

The Reds finished the half with some confident passing football though, and it was great to see – ultimately the move ended with Garner only hitting wide, but certainly Forest had been more than a match for the well-fancied Baggies, which is always a reassurance.  Certainly their lack of endeavour in going forward had limited too much exposure to our defence, and it was all smiles at half time.

Straight from the off Forest were positive in the second half, Adebola was literally raring to get into the box from kickoff, and eventually he was able to flick on the ball to Tyson which won us a corner.  We thought we’d made a breakthrough when Adebola shortly after put the ball in – but the linesman was flagging for a shove by Garner at the back post, chalking the goal off.

Predictably – at least to this pessimist – West Brom went and took the lead after Forest had enjoyed a good spell.  Martis played the ball to Greening who put what I thought was a fairly not threatening cross right into the six yard box, unfortunately it evaded Camp, dropping behind him onto Wes Morgan’s foot and into the goal to give the visitors the lead and awaken their away following who’d been fairly subdued ’til that point.

This buoyed the visitors who almost doubled their advantage from a freekick the referee had given when Craig Beattie had blatantly dived under a ‘challenge’ from Chris Gunter.  Greening took the kick and again the cross evaded Lee Camp to find Dorrans who’d made an excellent and completely untracked run to the back post – but blazed his shot over.

The Reds continued to press, McKenna struck a viscious shot from 30 yards which – whilst straight at him – Carson was only able to parry.  Again Dele was on hand for the rebound but this time was only able to spoon the ball over.  I didn’t have the best view of this – but it certainly looked to be less forgivable-a-miss as the one on the first half.  Garner was fouled in the six-yard box but the referee was having none of it.

Forest continued to pressurise – Lewis McGugan was introduced for the increasingly anonymous Majewski, and Earnie was introduced for Paul Anderson.  Dexter Blackstock came on for Adebola and almost made an instant impact after great work by Tyson down the left – his cross was without pace so it was difficult for Dex to get much power on the header, thus Carson clutched at it and apparently just managed to avoid carrying it over the goal line.

The golden chance came next, Earnie was blatantly felled in the box by Cech and amazingly the referee actually deined to give us a penalty.  Earnie grabbed the ball only to be faced by Scott Carson basically acting like a complete arsehole, this earned him a booking, but perhaps did the intended purpose – as when the kick was eventually taken Earnie did the stupid-slow-run-up thing, succeeded in ‘sending’ Carson, but then struck the ball wide.  Poor show.

Dexter had another chance just wide on the volley, but Forest were increasingly confounded by a very defensive and time-wasting West Brom side whom – as I said earlier – paid us a pretty big compliment with the way they approached the game, infuriating as it was for the spectators.  The Reds were mostly deservedly applauded off at the end – a good showing against a team who will be contenders come the end of the season.

The game left me with that surreal mismash of emotions – anger that we’d lost when (on balance of play and chances created) we didn’t deserve to, anger that the fact we didn’t was largely our fault, anger at the utterly shit referee and his inability to deal with West Brom’s gamesmanship, pride that we’d played well against an on-paper-more-talented-team and finally hope for future games when some of the little kinks in the performance will be smoothed out as the team continues to gel.

Well done Reds, this was a good performance – and the result was unlucky.