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!

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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:

Camp
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.

Forest vs. Blackpool preview..

Earnie: Pushing for a start

We welcome the Tangerines of Blackpool at the City Ground tomorrow, who will be on a high having been the first side to inflict a defeat on Newcastle United in midweek.  Our visitors are three points better off than us so far with a decent start to the season that sees them eleventh in the table after seven games.

Forest look likely to have Majewski available after his mysterious injury seems to have mysteriously cleared up quicker than expected.  Following his new-parent duties Nathan Tyson should also be available for selection – bizarrely the Reds striker has recently apologised for his conduct post-Derby game.  I’m not sure why, he did nothing wrong in my view!

For me, the key decision for Billy is up front – and it’s Robert Earnshaw who should find himself a starting place tomorrow.  Billy has moved to quell rumours of him moving elsewhere, which is great news because I can’t speak highly enough of wee Earnie.  I would expect (okay, perhaps hope over expect) to see him line up alongside either Dex or Dele.

Our visitors have a few injury worries – Coid, Nardiello, Taylor-Fletcher and McPhee are unavailable due to numerous injuries – forward Ben Burgess is likely to face a late fitness test having missed out on Blackpool’s midweek win over Newcastle United.  Despite this, the Tangerines are going to be no pushovers methinks.

I can’t wait to get back down to the City Ground though!  It feels like we’ve not been there for too long!

Reds to loan Villa youngster..

And it’s a midfielder, before you get too excited about us shoring up our defensive unit!  Marc Albrighton is the lad in question, a 19 year old winger who is highly rated by after an impressive pre-season.  Given our ‘right-winger’ of choice at the moment is Joe ‘yellow card’ Garner it could be a useful move to have some back-up in place anyway!

The loan deal will apparently be for a month – I have no idea whether that is likely to be extendable or not or whether it’s purely a short term fix.  His player profile on the Villa website describes him as a tricky winger.  He’s only made one full appearance for his club in the UEFA cup in Russia, and one league appearance as a substitute – so I imagine he’ll relish the opportunity for regular first team football for a spell.

Oh what fun it is to see the Forest draw away!

Earnie: Making a strong case for a place in the side

Earnie: Making a strong case for a place in the side

Ipswich Town – 1
Nottingham Forest – 1

Our seventh straight away draw in the league (if we go back into last season) officially qualifies Forest as a tough side to beat away, unfortunately we aren’t quite converting that meanness of conceding into ruthlessness of finishing.

Unusually Billy opted for the same starting eleven from the weekend’s trip to Sheffield Wednesday.  I half joked via Twitter at the time that we should have a sweepstake for when Garner would get booked – sure enough, he did indeed pick up a fifth booking of the season meaning he’ll miss the visit of Blackburn next week.

So the starting line up and bench were a familiar looking:

Camp
Gunter   Morgan    Chambers    Lynch
Garner   McKenna   Cohen    Anderson
Blackstock    McGoldrick

Subs: Smith, Wilson, McGugan, Moussi, McCleary, Earnshaw, Adebola

The Reds kicked off in grim weather conditions and suffered an immediate role-reversal from recent games – we conceded a ludicrously early goal rather than scoring one.  Unsurprisingly this involved a fairly hefty deflection!  A long ball was flicked on by Stead to Leadbitter whose shot deflected in to give the home side the lead after just 48 seconds.

Forest responded positively – Garner tried to catch out Town’s goalkeeper Wright with a cheeky lob that was marginally over.  Shortly after Blackstock headed just over from 12 yards.  The Reds showed good intentions but sloppy play and poor playing conditions made it heavy going for both sides.

Similarly to saturday, we seem to attract referees who like the sound of their whistle rather too much – once again this one wasn’t content unless he was stopping the game every couple of minutes for minor infractions by both sides.  It was during this spell that Garner picked up his yellow card for a poor challenge.

There were signs of good play by the Reds though.  McKenna played a ball to McGoldrick who was hacked down after turning and beating his man – the resulting freekick just outside the area was predictably spannered off target by Chris Cohen.  As a side we really really do not capitalise on setpieces nearly enough.

Danger in the Forest area was soon to follow too, Liam Rosenior did well to get forward and send a good ball across the face of the Forest goal – fortunately for us it was just beyond the stretches of Jonathans Stead and Walters so our goal remained unscathed.  Shortly after a cross/shot from Edwards nearly caught out Camp who ended up putting it out for a corner.

Half time saw Blackstock withdrawn for Adebola (Blackstock had picked up a head injury in the first half which had needed a bandage).  It was the next substitution, however, that was to prove the instrumental one for us – I’ve lamented Earnie’s lack of first team action a fair bit – and he made a big point today by scoring with his first touch upon being introduced to the action at the expense of Garner.

Chris Gunter was the provider, playing a ball into Earnshaw but the diminutive striker cleverly let the ball run through to Adebola and ran on to the return pass Dele made to chip the ball deliciously into the ‘net from around six yards out.  Great instinctive play between the two frontmen to get Forest an equaliser they had been working hard for.

The impressive Leadbitter was still proving a menace after a surging run but only resulted in a corner thanks to the intervention of Lee Camp.  At the other end Anderson found McGoldrick who did excellently well to beat his man but somehow contrived to shoot from a tight angle rather than try to put the cross in for one of his teammates.

As Forest started to get more into the game they showed more confidence to pass the ball around – but then the final ball let them down (sound familiar?!).  There was a slight heart-in-mouth moment when the ball deflected off Wes Morgan but this time for a corner rather than a goal – and McKenna needed to be alert to head off the line from a McAuley header after a cross by former Reds loanee Lee Martin.

The game ended with high drama – Dele did really well to nick the ball and get clean through on goal, McAuley clipped him down and was sent off – unfortunately for us it was outside the area, and Earnie’s use of the freekick was wasteful to say the least – spannered straight into the wall (Earnie had been given instructions from the bench too).  Despite a reasonable amount of stoppage time the Reds couldn’t break down the dogged home side so had to settle for a draw.

Boos greeted the fulltime whistle which may have been a combination of the Ipswich fans disgruntlement with the referee having just sent off their man (not that there was much argument with it!) as well as a continuation with their poor run of results.  As for Forest, another point away from home isn’t a bad thing if we can pick up our home results.

Elsewhere it was pleasing to read that Derby fell at home to struggling Barnsley – with Non-League Nigel apparently singling out Kris Commons for some rather choice criticism after the match (I’ve yet to find these comments anything other than paraphrased though).  It’s obviously too early to gloat about anything just yet – they’re still ahead of us on goals scored afterall – but it’s enjoyable nonetheless!

Forest clarify position on stadium move

Mark Arthur finally breaks the deafening Forest silence on stadium move

Mark Arthur finally breaks the deafening Forest silence on stadium move

I would recommend taking a few moments to read through Mark Arthur’s piece on the official website.  With councillors squabbling with one another and making a very bad impression on Nottingham and Nottinghamshire in general – our Chief Exec has offered a fairly eloquent view of Forest’s stance on these matters.

Certainly the frustration comes through strongly – and hearing Councillor Cutts on the radio this morning, she does come across a lady with a sizeable chip on her shoulder.  Certainly I for one would welcome further open and frank communication like this from Forest – they don’t do it often.  One of the few salient points Cutts made was that nobody has consulted with Forest fans on this proposed move.

I remain unconvinced of the merits of a move.  Nottingham having an opportunity to host a minor World Cup game or two doesn’t really make any odds to me personally – and whilst I could be swayed into the idea of a new stadium under very specific stipulations on location, styling (no flatpackery!) and suchlike.

Certainly whilst Mark Arthur I think comes across rather well in this instance, the continued bitching and moaning between the two councils I think doesn’t do much to enhance our bid in these matters.  Given that our rivals don’t need to move stadiums, just enhance existing ones, presumably this is casting Nottingham’s bid in a very unfavourable light with the onlooking FA and FIFA types.