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.

27 Responses

  1. Spot on – “we got what we deserved”. I came to the ground thoroughly optimistic but left it in abject deflation. The defence was shocking; both indecisive and with no leadership. Lynch had looked okay up until the first goal but after that he faded badly. Wes needs someone to lead him, coupled to which Gunter was shocking; I don’t recall many completed passes from him. Even up front we were indecisive as if some malaise had gripped the team. Early season fixtures had a cannny resemblance to last year but at this point, I was more optimistic than I am now. Things need to improve quickly; all of a sudden I am dreading the bank holiday weekend!

  2. Excellent report. Tonight was all the more of a shock because I actually felt very encouraged by Reading and WBA. Forest need 4 points out of the next 6 or the pressure will build. We need to bring in 2 more players and soon. Get your arse in to gear David Pleat; the pressure is on you.

  3. Totally agree , we didn’t deserve anything tonight and my personal oppinion is that too many of our boys were hiding. I thought McKenna did well again and run himself into the ground for the cause, but apart from him no one really stood out for me.

    I know it’s been said time and time again but until we find a natural left back and another center half, we’ll continue to look lopsided with no real shape. i really do hope we can get something sorted pretty soon.

    i’m not losing faith yet but would like to see a vast improvement in our next game… both defensively and more fight..


  4. To be honest if Watford had got 6 or 7 tonight we cannot complain,i think i could have got 4 from me mams knitting club who would have performed better than the defence,lets hope Billy can get the replacements in sooner rather than later,when we started playing just before half time we did look good,but to come out second half and perform like that its just not good enough,as my teacher always used to tell me,you must do better………………………..

  5. how many points did burnley have after the first 5 games last season??
    not good but lets not hit the panic button too soon.
    one saving grace tonight i had wanted to put £100 on forest winning tonight but the victor chandler website would not let me!!

  6. Well that will teach me to ‘tweet’ a predicted win for Forest of 3-1 at half-time!

    Once again, I agree with your report nffc and it is, as ever, very well written. It is obvious that we need to have options at the back – we know that, BD knows that and I am sure the Board/Transfer Committee/Nigel Doughty know that. And like any business and/or team it takes time to gel and time to find the right people to add to that team.

    There is a long record at Forest of panicking and going out and getting players that didn’t ‘fit’ and therefore didn’t deliver. I do believe that all of the nine additions this summer will prove their worth and that with a couple more (i.e. a whole new team) success will follow.

    Personally (despite Victor’s kind offer), I think promotion this year would be too early and a potential disaster. I do think we will see a marked improvement on last year and I would be very happy to finish between 6th and 10th. Then we can target promotion to the ‘promised land’ after that.

    I’m still looking forward to going to QPR on Saturday and am sure we will compete and battle more than this evening!


  7. Couldn’t make it to the match (obviously), but listening on the Beeb. Even when Forest went 1-0 down, I thought we were going to win and when the equalizer came on half time, I was loving it. No words, really for the 2nd half. No imagination, aggresion or desire up front, the front line larger ineffective and the midfield unmentioned in the commentary. But the defence were poor, really poor. It’s been obvious to all for sometime we need more defenders who are very good at this level. Tonight was the proof in the pudding. On reflection Forest were just crap tonight. We all know the team can play better and we must just hope that tonight’s showing was a one off blip. We get one every year. Billy will be fuming and hopefully, if nothing else, the board take note just how crap the defence was and put a bit more money in to get what we require, two very good central defenders and possibly a left back. If that happens, tonight’s disaster will result in something worthwhile. If not, we’re buggered. I can’t see chambers making too much of a difference though at least Cohen can go back to midfield. QPR fortunately, with all their money, are shit. I don’t doubt there will be a reaction. I just hope it results in an Arsenal/Everton like result come saturday. With a new signing between now and then could also restore some positive vibes that have been doing the rounds and get the Reds back to winning. U reeeeds!

  8. got kneck ache this morning from watching the ball go up in the air time after time !!! was’nt expecting bottom three this early and three points behind last seasons tally after three games aint good. performance wise thought we were terrible all over the pitch,constantly hoofing up in the air instead of getting the midfield involved in getting things going forward but hey i’m no forest manager just another non long ball forest fan !

  9. Not going to make too much comment on the actual game, but i think Cohen deserves a mention. He was outstanding in the first half, and together with Tys looked excellent down the flank.

    My gripe is Billy Davies.
    I have changed seats this year. I’m now almost directly behind our leader.
    First half the body language was good. Encouraging, cajoling, bollocking when required. When the equaliser went in he was giving it the “c’mon, told you so” signals, probably to the dick sat near me who moaned about absolutely everything (why pay good money then spend all game whining, he even moaned that it was a “effing scrappy goal, we got lucky”???!!!)
    But when the 3rd goal went in Davies slumped down in the dugout and barely spoke for the rest of the game. Even the coaches disappeared from the technical area. Surely thats the time to start geeing up the players, or trying a positional change?
    We scored a 2nd and out they all came, as if it was them who had notched, only to ALL slump down again when Watford scored the 4th.
    Poor management and leadership, if you ask me.
    And I agree nffc, to blame ” leggy” players was just ridiculous.

    On a plus note, the atmosphere sounded great from our new seats.
    We didnt really hear the singing from our old seats down in the lower trent end, but from the more central position the sound was superb.
    Christ, I’d pay good money to play in front of our fans in full voice…in fact, as a former centre-half myself…..!

  10. I Dont understand why there was so much let’s hoof it up to our 3 foot striker earnshaw against a 6 foot defender. I felt that gunter had his first poor game for forest, to many simple passes was going astray. Lynch was solid intill they scored there first,Cohen had a poor game but it’s not his fault because he’s not a natural right back! We now have that little bit of bite in midfield now which i feel we have not had since the andy reid and garath williams days! Can someone please explain to me why we took blackstock of for adebola?Im all for bringing him on but why not take earnshaw of, he was poor and did not look intrested one bit,Anyway enough is enough


    Just Kiddin


  11. I think you are all too accomodating
    £5m on forwards-none on defenders- poor
    Organisation on and off the pitch – dreadful
    attitude and urge to win – poor
    Tactics -non existent
    Motivation (half time talk) as it always is poor based on the start of the 2nd halves
    Style of play -bloody awful, ball up in the air, why has Camp stopped throwing the ball out and keeping possesion
    Keep ball- ??????? not
    Mark Arthurs facial expressions – heart attack
    Skill factor- how much are they paid( throw ins, dead ball accuracy)
    Earnie and Mcgugan not BD’s favourites- shows
    and finally my patience after 50 years of support fading fast
    what is it with this club Cardiff spent a lot of money and are on top, we do and we are bottom- bedding in????

    • 50 years on Beeston Red and you should know better! If we are bottom at christmas then I’d be in complete agreement with you but three games in and talk like that just confirms the completely unrealistic expectations a lot of Forest fans have. We got beat by a side that counter attacked well and took advantage of defensive frailties. (which everybody knows about) They did their homework on us and it showed. I believe this was a bad day at the office, simple as that and it will be a while before we see another home performance like it.

      We’ve spent money to make it possible so Forest can stay in the championship as far as I’m concerned. It is a much stronger squad than last year but that means realistically 10-12th as we were battling relegation for most of last season.

      3 games in and already we are hearing the usual bullshît from fans, who, quite frankly we could do without.

      • we will see, keep paying your £27 ++++++ and don’t complain then. That is what the powers that be want

        • Its about keeping a realistic outlook. I’ll complain when we see consistent failures and no clue on how to fix them. But I don’t think thats going to be the case this season.

  12. sounds like it was a pretty poor performance- but thanks for the twitter updates through the match, it’s much better (and faster) than just having the bbc website on. lets hope next time you can bring better news though!

  13. Someone once made a comment about building from the back, maybe our “aquishiton” group could take this on-board?

  14. After all that talk from BD at the end of last season about us playing people in the right positons, we end up with 6 strikers and a severe shortage of defenders. We have already this season played Cohen at left back, McLeary at right back and Lynch at centre back so what a load of b*llshit that has turned out to be.

    There is bugger all defensive cover at the club. I’m all for giving young lads league experience but if Brendan Moloney and Joe Heath were around I’m sure they would have been better options than yet again playing people out of position. How long before Luke Chambers ends up at right back again?!!!

    I know we have a few injuries but there is a very obvious inbalance in the squad – so whose fault is that then Billy?

    • heres another thought on those lines aylesbury – square pegs into round holes and all that, why not leave lynch in his normal/preffered position at left back and just find one square peg for centre half cover – say dele adebola, big strong can head a ball etc get cohen back where he belongs ala player of last season in the heart of midfield ????? and STOP hoofing it !

  15. I’m with you there Seanyboy – it makes alot more sense. We shouldnt be in this position at all though after spending all that money.

    • I’m not trying to defend BD here but he clearly had defensive targets however, the club failed to bring all of them in except Gunter. The Club had striker targets to and the club got all of them. It seems an imbalance now because we have our striker targets but none of the defenders. We still needed them strikers and even if we hadn’t signed one or two of them we would still be short in defense as for whatever reason the targets didn’t want to come to Forest. Now BD has identified more suitable candidates and the process of luring them to City Ground begins again.

      I don’t think this is a case of just going for strikers its a case of rebuilding the squad and up front and midfield we’ve pulled off some impressive signings, which we needed. Its not as though he would of gone ‘lets forget about one striker and sign a defender instead’. I’m pretty sure that his idea was to get players in every position. Its just not worked out so far in defense.

      I do agree with seanyboy though and put lynch at left back where he is best then we only have one problem position.

      • The Reds had a bad day at the office and Gunter was worse than most, he just wasn’t at the races yesterday. Moreover, he also didn’t do particularly well on Sat either and was exploited by WBA a few times before the move down the flanks that led to their goal.

        Yes its early season and no we shouldn’t press the panic button yet but we have as much of a problem in defence as we did last season. Injuries apart,this was known by all and sundry and is down to bad planning by the club and not just BD.

        Still fingers crossed for Sat that the return of Chambers makes a difference. Given last seaeson we often do well after a trouncing!!

  16. I agree with much of what people have said. I agree, it’s early days and just as Billy said post match, it’s where we finish come to start of May that’s most important. A good season of consolidation is the aim, and a top half of the table finish is desired. Only the diluded will think Forest can hold their own in the Premiership should they get promoted so no panic just yet. Billy has done well so far, with the signings and if Mills had wanted to join or the signing had gone through, we would be talking differently now but he didn’t come, probably didn’t want to and we have the situation as it is. I don’t doubt that Billy has other irons in the fire and it’s just whether they can get the identified players in or not. It would also help having Wilson, Perch and the Mouse back in contention. A lack of signings isn’t the only thing that has hindered Forest. I reckon a solid performance will follow last night’s disaster and though we may not win on Saturday against another team who will be looking to bag their first 3 points, Chambers back and a bollocking from the manager will see a much improved side. One thing also hasn’t helped the lads and that is 2 games a week right at the start of the season. Many excuses I know which led to an inexcusable performance. But after 3 games, it’s not life threatening. If were bottom 3 come christmas, then I’ll be worried. I always remember the season Forest got promoted to the Premiership when Van Hooijdonk came to Forest. 21st place after 5 games and we still came 2nd at the end. No panic just yet, just more hard work and as Billy said, we have a lot of quality upfront, eventually the rewards will come. One day, hopefully 29th of August, some team is going to get a thrashing. U reeeds!

    • Don’t forget, there is also our 2007/08 Player of the Year to return; Julian Bennett!

  17. I agree with most comments on here and I would like to reiterate the positive theme that “things can only get better” and it’s “a long, long road”. We are just 3 games in and our lack of defensive cover has finally caught up with us. Are we surprised and didn’t the manager predict this? Last night’s defensive performance from three of the back four (Wes excluded) was poor; but the three I have singled out are all under 22 years of age. Poor old Wes Morgan is the oldest and most experienced defender on our books at the moment and he is not a leader of men.

    From my seat in the Lower Trent directly behind the goal you can hear everything and the whole defence was quiet last night, including Camp (rather disappointing considering his reputation). However I think this was bourne from a lack of confidence in the positions the players are being asked to play and the sub-conscious thoughts in the player’s minds that the defence is “make-shift”.

    I sincerely hope that Davies is being VERY cagey now when asked to comment on player acquisitions because of the events this summer in connection with his Defensive targets. With any luck Forest are talking to West Ham about bringing in Davenport and maybe Pleat in “wine’in and dynin’ ” his Spurs buddies to let Forest take Bale on-loan for the rest of the Season. Forest need experience at the back, so we might even see a surprise “old head” appear on our books very shortly…..(is Sol Campbell still clubless?)

    The squad is beginning to look much stronger and when players return from injuries we should start to see stability. Although we all want Forest to do well, the most any of us should hope for is a failing flirtation with the play-offs. Otherwise we can eclipse even Direby’s illustrious points tally in the Premiership!

    Keep the faith and hope for the best. (and let’s face it if you don’t why are you a Football Fan?)

    U REDS!!!

    • Spot on Gavster. We expect too much from Wes; good defender – yes; whole hearted commitment – yes; heart of a lion – yes; leader of men – no. That, within his skill limitations, was where Breks shone. Not saying we should have kept him, and I was no fan, but we should have replaced him or at the very least kept him till we had someone to fill his boots. Bottom-line – I still have several coupos in the season ticket to go before panic starts to set in and I’m still sure we are better then we were.

  18. Back to earth with a bump have no complaints on being beaten by a side with more battling qualities.
    People seem to be dropping like flies though but theres no room for letting the heads drop we need to sort the defence and get back to steadying the ship.

    Although i must admit forest aiynt the luckiest of sides and never have been in my 32yrs as a fan no excuse though.

    U reds

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