Patience pays off for Reds..

Nottingham Forest – 2
Scunthorpe United – 0

Patience was in abundance from fans and players alike tonight, and Forest needed it to break down a bullish Scunthorpe side intent on holding on to a point.  An element of luck was ours too, because whilst one would never wish injury on an opponent, the substitution of Iron goalkeeper Joe Murphy was a big moment for us – as he’d been playing a blinder!

All in all, a thoroughly deserved win by the tenacious-but-still-a-bit-wasteful Reds – and welcome respite for those of you who couldn’t help but gloat too early to the Derby fans you know.  i decided to wait ’til tomorrow – and I shall enjoy myself now!  Anyway, back on tonight, a few changes by Billy to the side that beat Plymouth at the weekend:

Gunter    Morgan    Chambers    Cohen
Garner    McKenna    Majewski   Anderson
Blackstock    Tyson

Sort of, anyway.  Garner, Anderson and Tyson were all over the place for much of the time!  The Reds immediately started on the offensive and a sequence of three corners saw two good ones – followed by the inevitable poor one, but a good statement of intent early doors.  The first goalbound effort was a weak header from range by Garner from a Gunter cross.

I thought was had scored when Cohen put a fantastic ball into the box from a freekick, Chambers met it powerfully with his head but Murphy was equal to it in the Scunthorpe goal, making an excellent reaction save which prompted a scramble which eventually saw the goal safe.  Dex had a chance in the air too but put it just wide after beating Murphy to Tyson’s cross.  Dex again latched onto a throughball from Raddy, but the finish was disappointingly weak.

The visitors had the odd foray forward too, though – Togwell brought the ball forward and set up Hayes who really should have hit the target despite the tightness of angle.  Former-Forest target Rob Jones was threatening in the box too, but Wes was on hand to sort out the danger for a corner.  At ‘the right end’ another good corner from Raddy was met by Anderson who powerfully headed.. wide.  I was convinced it was in at the time!

Murphy put his first foot wrong shortly after, handling the ball outside the box for which he was rightly booked.  He was lucky the referee didn’t take exception to the ball-throwing-away immediately after, nor the refusal to approach the referee to receive the yellow card, and the volley of verbal abuse.  The resulting freekick ended up with a goal kick to them.

Half time was a broadly positive mood – Forest helped this by including the Cardiff vs. Derby game on the half time scores which raised a cheer.  The general concensus was that we were dominating and unlucky not to be winning – of course, the problem with that is we’ve said that before more than once this season!  Even a Scunthorpe fan my season ticket neighbour knows concurred with this view via text message.

The second half saw McGoldrick on in place of Joe Garner.  Almost immediately (it seemed) Tyson had burst between two defenders but Murphy was equal to his shot and gathered the ball.  His save of the game came shortly after when a poor clearance was pounced on by Gunter from close range – but somehow he made the save when it looked a certain goal.

His last action was to save at Tyson’s feet, then collide with Blackstock.  Amidst suspicions of timewasting he was actually substituted – although the time taken to get off the pitch and get his replacement on did somewhat take the piss.  The much smaller Josh Lillis eventually took the field and McGoldrick threw the ball out for a goal kick.

The Reds upped the pressure and the fans upped their backing – well done folks – and eventually the desperate blocks and saves of the visitors was broken.  Cohen took a corner (another good corner!) which found Luke Chambers who rose at the near post to head the ball into the roof of the Trent End net and cause the City Ground to erupt into a combination of relief and celebration!

Majewski’s last action of the game was to play Tyson through who did everything right until his shot.  The young Pole had faded somewhat in the second half so was withdrawn by Billy to be replaced by Guy Moussi presumably to add a bit of muscle to the midfield battle.  Raddy received a great reception from the Reds fans.

And then it was two.  Anderson worked hard to chase the ball down, it looked like he’d taken it too wide to evade the Scunthorpe defence but he drilled an excellent cross right across the six yard box where Dex was on hand to slot the ball home from close range to give the Reds a cushion with around a quarter of an hour left on the clock.

Whilst they didn’t offer much, Scunthorpe did have one excellent chance to pull a goal back – Jonathan Forte beat Morgan unusually.  Camp got a bit lucky as he ran out an got a touch on the shot, looping over him and off the post and back into his arms – bit of a let off, but all’s well that ends well!  Camp, it should also be noted, picked up a silly booking for grabbing the ball when he’d conceded a throw and running back to his area with it.

The Reds continued to press forward though, McGoldrick had a shot goalward but a deflection took it Dex-ward.  The Reds striker got his head to to it and sent it goalward, but unfortunately to the bit that Lillis was standing in!  Whilst six minutes of added time might sometimes cause a degree of consternation – by this stage it was clear that Scunthorpe had pretty much given up so the clock wound down and the Reds triumphed.

This puts us up to the lofty heights of fourteenth in the Championship table – just three points away from the playoff places – and six points away from the relegation zone.  I still think it’s too early to worry too much about league tables (take heart, Derby fans!), but well, we can’t help ourselves sometimes, can we?

Forest vs. Scunthorpe United preview..

Scunthorpe still gives me nightmares.

Hopefully some of those demons can be laid to rest as they no longer have the likes of Billy Sharp and Andy Keogh to run merry rings around our defence!  Having said all that, they’re not a side to be underestimated, as some of our peers have already discovered to their peril this season – so a Watford-at-home-esque performance could see us only having limited time to gloat about the shoeing Derby got this evening.

The main injury-based news centres on Earnie who has some kind of pelvic injury which kept him out of the squad for the Plymouth game.  Forest hope to have him available, but it looks like a late fitness check.  There are also concerns over Wilson who was withdrawn from the action at Home Park with severe cramp in both legs – so don’t be surprised to see Chambers slot in to centreback.

Our visitors have a couple of injury worries too – influential pair Hooper and Mirfin have hamstring and hip injuries respectively; and they are likely to be assessed in the morning but unlikely to be risked if there’s any doubt – particularly Hooper.  Jonathan Forte is available after picking up a slight knock in their last game – I remember him from his time with Doncaster, he hit an absolute screamer against the bar in that bizarre game we won 4-0 despite being rubbish!

So, a real opportunity for the Reds to start to make improvements to their home form.  Just the one win so far at the City Ground, remember that?  Who can’t?!  Well, we’ve moved above Derby without lifting a finger this evening through virtue of goal difference as non-league Nigel continues his fine work down the A52.

It would be rather nice to augment that position with a nice three points, wouldn’t it?  Why do I have this nagging doubt that that would be too much to ask for?

Plymouth Argyle vs Forest highlights..

Which, from our point of view, pretty much consist of the goal!

Reds break Sky and awayday Hoodoo in one unspectacular match..

Plymouth Argyle – 0
Nottingham Forest – 1

A scrappy game in the south-west saw Forest pick up their long awaited first away win of the season.  It wasn’t a spectacular performance by any means, and again Forest wasted much of the chances they created – and also were perhaps fortunate not to have conceded a penalty to the Pilgrims.  Having said that, few Reds would argue we weren’t due some good fortune.

Nearly fifteen-thousand fans almost filled Home Park which is good going for an awkwardly timed Sunday match on TV.  Including a thousand or so from Nottingham.  Although given the ticket giveaway perhaps even more were expected – I suspect they hadn’t thought through just how many supporters wanted to claim a free ticket but didn’t have a corresponding juvenile to take with them!

Forest lined up with a familiar-but-shuffled line-up, still opting to play Garner on the right wing and Cohen withdrawn back to defence, and a welcome return to the side for Raddy Majewski:

Gunter   Morgan   Wilson   Cohen
Garner   McKenna   Majewski   Tyson
Blackstock   Adebola

The immediate start was good for the Reds – immediately getting forward and creatign a chance for Dex from a freekick, unfortunately despite rising well he was only able to direct his header over.  In truth it looked like Larrieu would’ve had it covered regardless.  At the other end Plymouth’s dangerman was Alan Gow, creating a great opportunity for Fletcher who shot wide.

The home side grew in confidence and really should have taken the lead when a pass from Duguid found Mackie unmarked and seven yards from goal – luckily for us he deigned to shoot wide.  Shortly after this he was on target – but despite being wrong-footed slightly Camp managed to block it with his foot; with Gunter completing the clearance.

Majewski was having an influential game in midfield as we’ve become accustomed, beating his defender and coming close with a long range shot which appeared to have the beating of the ‘keeper – but didn’t dip soon enough so ended up on top of the net rather than inside.  Just as I’d given up on the idea of Forest nicking a first half lead, the Reds took the lead.

Gunter played a couple of one-twos – the latter with Dexter Blackstock as he burst into the box – he got a lucky bounce off the head of an Argyle defender but showed good composure to finish inside the far post with his left foot.  His first goal for the Reds, and indeed, his first senior professional goal – so congratulations Chris – may it be the first of many!  Half time arrived soon after, with the Reds in the lead.

Right at the start of the second half the Reds perhaps could have doubled Plymouth’s misery – a cross from McKenna found him in the box which his mis-kicked wide with his right foot where a left-footed effort would’ve made more sense.  Shortly after the ref pulled back play for a foul on Dex where he looked set to square it to Dele who was clear through – predictably, the freekick came to nothing!

The Reds did largely dominate play without creating too many opportunities – whereas Plymouth did have one glaring opportunity where it looked as though Kelvin felled one of their players in the box.  On the TV replay from one angle it didn’t look to have touched the ball at all, from another angle it did look like it – the referee had the former (better) view where it appeared that Wilson had committed the foul.  Luckily for us the referee waved away the protests.

With the consternation rising from the home crowd another chance was created by the home side through Judge, who made a good run with the Reds defence backing off (why do we do that?!), his shot was mercifully straight at Camp who took a couple of attempts to gather.  Wes had work to do as well to stem the tide of the home side, just as five minutes of added time were shown.

The Reds did a good job at winding the clock down and with supporters streaming out of the exits the previously steely resolve of Plymouth appeared to have wilted.  Not a spectacular performance, and elements of fortune – but it’s great to have our first away win monkey off our back, and Joe Garner managed a game without getting booked too – so there’s another bonus!

Plymouth Argyle vs. Forest preview..

Forest face a Sunday trip to the further-flung of the two league Pilgrims, beleaguered Pilgrims at that – yet to register a win this season.  Of course, Forest are yet to register a win away from the City Ground so far – perhaps this fixture has a draw written all over it?  With six defeats on the bounce, Plymouth would probably be happy with that, but Forest will surely be seeking to compound their misery at the bottom of the table.

Billy has a few selection posers – he opted to drop Chambers to give Wilson a run out in the cup, and he came through that unscathed and played pretty well.  We also have Majewski available for selection in midfield – who I think we’ve missed.  The usual striker selection poser will be prevalent, with the pressure on for the Forest hitmen to find the target after a couple of wasteful games infront of goal.

Our hosts might restore Bradley Wright-Phillips to their starting line-up, so the Reds will be advised to put their valuables in a safe place in the dressing room!  On-loan Villa defender Shane Lowry is subject to a fitness test after picking up a knock against Newcastle in Plymouth’s last game.

A big crowd is expected in the aftermath of the home side’s unusual promotion for the 2018 bid – which involved Argyle giving away tickets so long as a children’s ticket was ordered at the same time as an adult one.  This offer was also extended to Forest fans – whether all those who took up the offer will have attendant children in tow seems to undermine the reports of a full house being expected.

Nonetheless, Argyle will be hoping their bumper crowd will spur them on – although my experiences of Home Park in the past is they have a similar issue  as we do with a healthy population of whingers amongst their home support (and also, similar to us, an excellent away following) so it might backfire to have a disagreeable large crowd when the pressure is already on.

That said, Forest specialise in not exactly compounding other side’s misery on their travels – we mustered only a draw against Ipswich who had been struggling afterall.  We don’t have a particularly good recent record at Home Park either – the last time we won there in the league was in 1977.  They were the last points we have got from there, in fact!

So somebody’s run is going to change – that’s for sure, either Plymouth will get a first win in the league since April, or we will pick up some points from a trip to Home Park, with the possibility of getting our first away league win since February!  It’s been said that Billy Davies’ teams don’t get going ’til October onwards, I’m hoping we can start a little bit early.

Another interesting tidbit I encountered was that Forest have used just eighteen players in the Championship so far – and no other team has used fewer.  So whilst we have our quibbles about Billy’s rotation policy, presumably that means other teams are undergoing at least similar levels of it – if not more.

Mark Arthur’s real reaction to the new ground debacle?

Okay, so it isn’t – but despite the slight discomfort at the suggestion our beloved club is being run by the Third Reich, I did find this video an amusing take on the on-off-on-off plans to move to a new stadium as part of the 2018 World Cup bid.  Credit to YouTube user 19mjohns91!

Let’s concentrate on the league..

Wes shoots wide of the mark

Nottingham Forest – 0
Blackburn Rovers – 1

Ooh, don’t you just hate it when people say concentrate on the league?  I sort of do, although I certainly do think we should be concentrating on the league.  A frustrating evening for Forest which was partially reminiscent of the weekend performance.

The odd boo from the home fans at the end of the game were unjustified as a battling Reds made a good showing.  Billy suggested it should have been four or five one at half time – I’m not so sure about that, but certainly Forest created a lot of chances, chances they should be converting to more shots on target – and it would follow, I’m sure, more goals.

Billy also underlined Blackburn’s Premier League status – which is a fair observation but for the distinctly weakened look to the side.  There were a few well-known faces in there too, and the Reds did indeed look a more than a match for them in all aspects of the game except for taking their chances.  The visitors really only had one, and they took it.

The Reds lined up with:

Gunter    Morgan    Wilson    Lynch
Garner    McKenna    Cohen    Tyson
Blackstock     Earnshaw

The first chance of the game looked like it took Blackstock by surprise, a good delivery from Cohen sent back across the goal by Garner and it certainly struck Dex, but ended up straight into Jason Brown’s arms in the Blackburn goal.  Shortly after Tys destroyed Salgado with a burst of pace and drilled the ball into the box, it literally stuck to Earnie’s feet which seemed to shock the striker into not getting a shot away.

Wes had more time than he realised after a bit of Reds pressure, the ball falling to him in the penalty area – he did well to bring the ball down on his thigh and then proceeded to spanner it wide from eight yards as only a centre half can.  Blackburn did press forward occasionally – the warning signs were there when Kalinic was able to head unchallenged in the box, fortunately wide.

Blackburn though are a team of big strong players who fall over easily.  Olssen had cut inside with Garner tracking him – he fell over, the referee gave a freekick.  McCarthy – with what I reckon must have been close to his first touch – hit it firmly towards the back stick, I think it evaded everyone and went straight in to give the visitors a fortunate lead.  Well struck freekick though.

Forest came closest to the equaliser minutes later – a freekick was given after a foul on Garner thirty yards from the goal just left of centre.  Earnie lined it up and struck the ball well – but struck the top of the crossbar with the ball ending up out for a goalkick.  As half time arrived fans were already drawing comparisons with the weekend’s game against Blackpool.

Certainly Forest looked more composed and had a better shape to them – and were undoubtedly working hard – but we just couldn’t seem to shake the idea that no matter how much time we had left we weren’t going to breach the Blackburn goal.  It was nearly academic after the restart – McCarthy used his second touch (sic) to plant a free header from a Reid cross comfortably wide from close range.

Lynch was getting forward well to support either Tyson or Garner ahead of him (why oh why oh why do we swap wingers over – it never works!) – at one point he drilled a brilliant ball to the near post where nobody was gambling so Brown was able to deal with it comfortably.  Tyson too was still working hard down the left – his cross almost found Blackstock but Brown was able to claim it.

A speculative cross/punt into the box by Cohen nearly bore more fruit that we could’ve hoped – Brown had to backpedal and concede a corner incase it looped into the top corner (I think it was going wide, but I don’t think the ‘keeper could really take that chance!), and shortly after that probably the best chance of the game arrived for us.

Reid handled in the area and the ref pointed to the penalty spot – the tension around the ground was palpable and to be honest, I never felt particularly confident as we should when we have this kind of opportunity.  Dex claimed the spotkick and struck it firmly and fairly low – but Brown did very well to dive low to his left and get two hands to the ball.

The visitors had another rare spell of pressure – McCarthy’s third touch was a whipped in cross which Wes put out for a corner, from this Blackburn did force the ball goalwards but it was cleared before it crossed the line.  At the other end Wes won a great ball in the air only for Tyson to miskick from close by.

Final frustration came at the death with Cohen whipped in a corner which Adebola met with his head.  At the time I thought it was going in, but I was told on Twitter it was heading wide – so Earnie’s intervention on the goalline presumably to direct the ball on target is more forgivable.  We thought he’d cleared it off the line though, somehow conspiring to put it over when practically on the line himself!

Rovers wound down the clock in stoppage time to claim the victory – the relief for their players was clear from their reaction to the final whistle.  For the Forest fans that booed at full time, I think that’s somewhat an overreaction and not particularly helpful at this juncture.  Certainly my criticisms of Billy’s tactics at the weekend aren’t valid this evening – he just needs to get them practising their shooting!

Unlucky lads, but you really do need to start concerting these chances into goals.

Forest vs. Blackburn Rovers preview..

Saturday’s defeat to Blackpool at home brought a five game unbeaten run to an end for Forest, and in disappointing circumstances.  So a chance to make early amends against Premier league opponents will be more than welcome – and it is perhaps not inconceivable that Rovers attention won’t be fixated on the cup given their own slow start to the league season.

They’ve amassed just four points from five games so far in the Premier League and have just had a convincing defeat courtesy of Everton to contend with.  Their cup run so far has seen them defeat Gillingham – whilst the Reds of course have already played two rounds, despatching Bradford and Middlesbrough to get to this stage.

I could’ve sworn it was this game Garner was suspended for – but as he missed out at the weekend he is available to feature against the team where he started his career.  I would expect to see a few changes – Smith is likely to start in goal, and there are suggestions that Kelvin Wilson is likely to feature in the line-up.  I wouldn’t expect Billy to risk Majewski who is still struggling with a knee injury.

Allardyce is likely to take the opportunity to field his fringe players to mix things up a bit ahead of Blackburn’s weekend fixture with Aston Villa – although even a side like that will present a fairly big challenge for the Reds.  We are kind of playing without pressure – certainly given the likelihood of a small crowd with only the lower tiers open at the City Ground.

It’s disappointing there isn’t more demand given the frequency of us reaching this stage of the competition in recent years, but I at least am looking forward to it!

Rest in peace, Cloughie.

I hadn’t realised it at the time, but I inadvertantly spent a few moments sitting at the feet of the great man as the fifth anniversary since his passing ticked around waiting for the bus.

So today marks five years since the great man passed away.

What struck me was at all hours of the day his statue on the junction of King/Queen Street doesn’t ever seem to fail to draw admirers at any hour of the day.

What more can we say about him?  He’s so well known to us all – indeed, this year we had his debut on the silver screen courtesy of Michael Sheen’s excellent portrayal of him in ‘The Damned United’.  Whilst the Clough family understandably shunned the film based on the book’s depiction of the great man I think the film paints a much more favourable picture of him.

I’m caught between disappointment that nobody seemed to mark the occasion at the City Ground yesterday, but also accepting that at some point we need to move on.  It was nice to see a few fans who had chosen to mark the moment by donning a green jumper for the game – maybe Forest should publicise that idea, I’m not sure a minute’s silence is called for.

The good thing about perhaps citing the recent DVD release of ‘The Damned United’ is that this is a film that depicts as well as I can imagine (being too young to have ‘been there’) the essential dynamic between not just the greatness of Brian Clough, but the foil with which most of his achievements were in conjunction with – the one, the only, Peter Taylor.

I’ll probably be putting the film on later and feeling all maudlin about it.

Rest in peace, both.

Seasiders grab the win..

If there were a cow's arse handy, Forest would have missed it with this prop

Nottingham Forest – 0
Blackpool – 1

Apologies for the tardiness of the match report, but having a few consolatory beers turned into a lot of consolatory beers and – no offence – that seemed like more fun than coming home and recounting a frustrating afternoon’s viewing at the City Ground!  The reports I’m reading seem to suggest Forest were in some way unfortunate, but from where I was sitting there couldn’t have been many complaints at the scoreline.

The line-up was both surprising and in some ways a bit baffling, Billy held good on his words of encouragement to Earnie by including him in the starting eleven – but didn’t really pair him up with a favourable partner – and indeed, for much of his time on the pitch he seemed to be operating as a  lone striker.  At home.  When we were losing.  The team was this:

Gunter    Morgan    Chambers    Lynch
Cohen    Moussi    McKenna    Tyson
Earnshaw    McGoldrick

The first real opportunity of the match was for the Reds when Moussi – looking like someone who had been first introduced to a football this morning – was late in playing the ball through to Earnie who was in a great position – as such the chance fizzled away into nothing.  Earnie was closer after, evading Baptiste but finding Rachubka alert at the edge of his box to claim to ball.

At this point Forest looked comfortable but unpenetrative – kind of our standard state these days.  Tyson was doing well down the left, having the beating of the right back time and again but balls into the box weren’t really finding anyone in decent positions – until he found Cohen who couldn’t really get any pace on his header – which he deigned to aim straight at the ‘keeper anyway.

Earnie had the same problem from a Gunter cross, unable to get any power behind his header which was on target but – again – easy pickings for the Tangerines goalkeeper.  Tyson had a shot from a tight angle which – whilst decent enough – never really looked likely to yield a goal and Rachubka dealt well with it to keep it safe.

Then the break – Adam evaded Moussi in the middle and powered towards goal – with the Forest defence parting like the red sea allowing the midfielder to plant a decent striker into the bottom corner past Camp who had little or no chance.  At least it wasn’t a deflected goal, I suppose – it was just well taken and very badly defended from our point of view!

Another good cross from Gunter was missed by Cohen, but found McGoldrick who shanked it into the Blackpool fans.  Probably the best chance(s) we fashioned came shortly after – Cohen did well to avoid straying offside to find Earnie whose shot was blocked, the rebound fell to Moussi who struck goalward only to illicit a save from Rachubka, another rebound, falls to Earnie who had his final effort cleared off the line.

Half time was met with much bemusement at the performance and selection.  I thought personally that Moussi looked out of sorts and lacked either match fitness, sharpness or basic ability.  We lacked much coming down the right except when Gunter overlapped and basically it wasn’t working particularly well – I was hoping to see Anderson and either Blackstock or Adebola on for the second half.

Alas, neither happened.  Blackpool started the second half brightly and Camp had to be on his toes to save well from Euell.  Forest created chances too – Lynch crossed to Tyson who found Earnie who conspired to shoot straight at Rachubka.  I thought we’d equalised when McGoldrick was felled in the box, the ball fell to Earnie who tapped in – but the linesman’s flag was already up for offside against McGoldrick.

Dex came on for Moussi – again, without a sponsors logo on his short – and after no real dramatic change in fortunes Billy put on Adebola and McGugan on for Earnshaw and McGoldrick respectively.  That didn’t really make much difference either – and as I noted on Twitter – we really didn’t look like we would be able to score a goal if given an hour or more to do so.  Dele had a late chance but was well blocked by Edwards.

All in all, a disappointing performance from the lads – certainly chances were created, but we never really looked dangerous.  Blackpool took their chance well which we largely gifted to them – and they largely played a containing game on us thereafter but did look capable of breaking.  So well done to them, I think it has to go down as a well earned victory to the Seasiders.

Still, at least Derby lost!  I keep saying that, don’t I?  We really do need to get our own house in order, though.