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!