Forest stung for four by Hornets..

Forest's defence tonight was about as watertight as this colander.

Nottingham Forest – 2
Watford – 4

Well that’s me firmly back down to earth after a rare foray into pre-match optimism!  If Billy Davies needed a dossier of evidence to back up his assertion that he needed defensive reinforcements, tonight he has it in DVD form.  A disasterous defensive showing was punished emphatically by effective counter-attacking from an otherwise average looking Watford side, giving the visitors what has to be considered a deserved win.

Davies opted to rotate his forward and midfield options slightly – obviously he couldn’t do much with the defence given our lack of options – so we lined up with a starting eleven not too dissimilar to the one I predicted:

Gunter    Morgan    Lynch    Cohen
Anderson    McKenna    McGugan    Tyson
Blackstock    Earnshaw

Subs: Smith, Mitchell, Davies, Majewski, Garner, Adebola, McGoldrick

It was a scrappy affair to start with.  Watford were set up defensively, but always looked to break quickly, Forest looked to get forward but without much end product.  The first chance fell to Anderson after a rather wasted freekick by McGugan was half-cleared to him but his volley wasn’t exactly a great chance, and was well over.

Probably the best chance of the earlier exchanges fell to us when Severin’s back header didn’t reach Loach, but the ‘keeper did well to deny the winger.  Immediately after Watford broke and Smith shot from range forcing Camp into a save that gave the visitors the corner.  Shortly after McGugan and Lynch conspired together to allow McAnuff to cross to Jenkins for a free header that he somehow put into the Watford fans rather than the goal.

Another moment of pressure for Loach saw him challenged by McGugan in the air – amazingly given the contact with the ‘keeper the referee didn’t blow for a freekick, Watford regained the  ball and sportingly kicked it out as McGugan remained prone on the deck.  Turns out he has a fractured cheekbone and will be out for an as-yet-to-be-determined time period.  Majewski was introduced to replace him.

Watford took the lead after this – Smith was down the right with Lynch attemting to prevent him getting inside.  Cohen nipped in to take the ball well, at which point he and Lynch seemed to stand and watch whilst Smith went after the ball, and crossed it neatly to the back post where Danny Graham rose above Morgan to plant a header into the ‘net from close range but from a close angle.  Disappointing all round – the nature of the allowing of the cross, Wes losing out to Graham, and Camp not looking anything like making the save.

There was an element of galvanising from Forest though – particularly when the referee and linesman failed to notice the most obvious handball the history of football has ever seen from Watford’s last man to prevent Earnie getting clear.  McKenna was particularly visibly pissed off and was booked moments later for a fairly rash challenge on a Watford player.

As Forest built up a period of pressure and decent play, some nice interplay between Cohen, Tyson and McKenna saw the latter finally clip a ball over to Blackstock in the box who still had quite a bit to do in chesting the ball down and putting it into the goal from inside the six yard box.  Well worked and, at that point, a well-deserved equaliser.

Straight from the restart Forest were back on the offensive, Earnie being played through in the left channel – he was at a tight angle, but personally I would have expected him to hit the target rather than the side-netting.  Half-time came too soon for us really, as we were building up quite a head of steam and some momentum.  so a more cautious version of my prematch optimism remained, with the caveat that we needed to start the second half as we’d finished the first.

Of course, we didn’t.  The visitors took the early initiative with Severin shooting over, and Cleverley conspiring to miss from a tight angle having pretty much rounded Camp.  The goal did come though, a freekick headed goalward looked to be saved well from my seat – the official site suggests it hit the post – either way, the rebound fell kindly for Williamson who had a tap-in to an empty goal.

Just as I was predicting timewasting and spoiling tactics, Watford had a third – so it shows what I know!  Jenkins and Smith combined well whilst the Forest defence stood off and stood off and stood off allowing Smith all the time in the world to pick his spot for a calm finish low into the corner under the dive of Camp.  A good finish, but again, more defensive woes for the Forest back line.

Moments later McGoldrick cleared a Jenkins shot off the line, shortly afterwards making a nice goal for Dele Adebola.  Adebola won the ball, chesting down to McGoldrick before running into the box, as I was screaming at McGoldrick to shoot he slipped a perfect through-ball to Dele who slotted the ball inside the far post with aplomb to make it 3-2 and give us perhaps a glimmer of hope of a comeback.

Forest did have intent, but the final ball always seemed to be lacking that bit of quality or accuracy – and as Forest committed more resource to attacking, it was once again a counter-attack – and another example of abject defending – which confirmed the win for the visitors.  Smith and Cleverley combining as the Forest defence stood and watched, with the latter smashing the ball into the roof of the net at Camp’s near post.

A poor poor defensive showing from the Reds expertly exploited by Watford’s quick counter-attacking.  So all credit to our visitors, who took full advantage.  At times we showed quality going forward, but final balls were often lacking – and sometimes there were opportunities to shoot that weren’t taken quickly enough.  However, the focus should continue – as it has been – on the lack of defensive options.

Unlike Billy Davies I’m not particularly convinced that the availability of Luke Chambers on Saturday is likely to yield particularly good results.  It does mean that Cohen could return to midfield if desired, I suppose.  I am also a bit mystified as to him using ‘lots of games’ as some kind of excuse for the defence being under-par, erm, we’ve played four games Billy.  That’s not a lot.

We really do need to strengthen at the back, I realise this isn’t new news to anybody – not least the manager – but we can’t afford to dally any longer.  Robin Chipperfield made an excellent point post-match on the radio – West Brom lost their rightback to injury against us, a day later they’d secured a replacement on loan.  How long have we known we’re short at the back?  Long enough, I’d say.

Still not panicking just yet, and perhaps having a reality check at this stage of the season could prove helpful.  I admire Billy’s reticence to not lay into his players in public, but I hope he gave them what for in the dressing room because as he said himself, we just didn’t scrap for it like Watford did, and I for one expect them too.  We were unlucky at the weekend, but this evening I’m afraid we got what we deserved.

Defender rumours..

Interesting rumours doing the rounds (posting on mobile so forgive the lack of links) regarding our quest to strengthen our defence. Calum Davenport was named in the Evening Post along with quotes from Billy yesterday, which would suggest there will be (or has been) contact between us and West Ham.

There are rumours doing the rounds that we’ve made a concrete offer, which all seem to agree on £1.5m ish (in some cases with less paid up front). Certainly the Hammers seem to want rid, and he fits the bill for the kind of player we need. The usually-full-of-tosh Football Rumours site has a postvthat goes as far as to suggest it might go through today, but not in time for the Watford game.

The same post on Football Rumours had the rather outlandish suggestion that we were after Tottenham’s Gareth Bale on loan with a view to buy. Admittedly there are factors in our favour, we dealt with Spurs to buy Gunter, who is by all accounts good mates with Bale – as is Blackstock. Still seems rather unrealistic to me, but then so did much if what occured during the close season!

So it’s time to stay hooked to the news feeds, I’m afraid, as ever hopefully prepared to be disappointed but hoping to be delighted! Let’s see if this picture of Davenport works from my phone…