Moussi’s goal!

Some fortuitous camera work by webbo2604 in the Upper Brian Clough Stand (thanks to DeepingRed for pointing it out in the comments on the Match Report) gives you an early view of the Moose in action, latching on the flick Dele puts onto McKenna’s frankly hopeful lob into the box!

It’s amusing to see him disappear into the Lower Trent End afterwards too!  Apparently even the referee admits such a thing shouldn’t warrant a booking, but rules is rules, and we should know better really.  It’s still quite funny, though!

The Moose’s fire is quelled – by an early bath!

moooose!Nottingham Forest – 1
Barnsley – 0

There’ll be a few people who made it home only to discover they’d missed a goal in the name of beating the traffic.  I wonder if any of them also missed the probably slightly more monumental moment of Des Walker scoring his only competitive goal for the club?  Some people never learn!

Billy had pre-warned that patience would be a virtue in this fixture, and he was spot on.  Barnsley came out the blocks positively but also dug in and made life difficult for the Reds, who themselves were not quite up to performance levels attained at the weekend on this cold and rainy tuesday evening.

Just one change was made, McGoldrick replacing Majewski who has been suffering with a virus since the weekend, and playing almost in the same kind of role in advanced midfield, so we lined up something approximating:

Camp
Gunter   Morgan   Wilson   Cohen
Anderson   Moussi   McKenna   Tyson
McGoldrick
Blackstock

As I said above, it was the visitors who made the early running – pressing Forest deep into their own territory, and assisted by the infuriatingly incompetent Nigel Miller – the referee for this evening.  His first act of note was to give a freekick early doors when a Barnsley player fell over next to Wes Morgan, this was well struck by the industrious Ian Hume and rattled the bar with Camp not even moving.

Shortly after another dodgy freekick was awarded for a supposed foul on Hammill by Anderson, this was quickly taken some ten yards away from where the incident took place.  Again taken by Hume, this time into the box where Wes was on hand to make the clearance.  Anderson looked to be the brightest prospect for the Reds to start to make progress in attack – unfortunately his first attempt was a poor shot straight at Barnsley’s goalkeeper Steele.

Hume again proved a thorn in the side of our defence, forcing another effort this time just wide of the goal – however, Forest were starting to come more into the game and take the game to the Tykes.  Ex-Sheep Darren Moore felled McGoldrick and picked up a booking for his trouble – the freekick was well struck by Cohen but straight into the wall and to safety.

The Reds attacked again and a Cohen delivery into the box was met by Blackstock with a header across goal, this fell half-kindly for McGoldrick who on the stretch managed to get the ball roughly goalbound – but for the intervention of the crossbar.  A frustration for a chap nearby who had a bet on the former Southampton man to get he first goal!

He was getting excited again too, as McGoldrick bent his run deliciously to avoid straying offside, Morgan played an uncharacteristically perfect long-range ball to put him through one-on-one.  It’s true he was at an awkward angle but I would have expected the striker to do better than to blast into the quick-to-react Steele – or better still square the ball to the supporting Tyson who would’ve surely tapped into the open goal!

The visitors had another quick attack with Macken forcing a decent save from Camp, and right before the half time break Forest had two chances – first from Blackstock which was saved by Steele, and then Anderson fizzed a low cross to the back stick which just evaded Tyson who was running in on the back post.

The second half almost started perfectly, Luke Steele cleared badly and left himself rather stranded.  McKenna responded to the cries of ‘Shoooot!’ from the crowd and did so – and we will never know whether he’d have hit the target or not because of the timely intervention by one of the Barnsley midfield.

At the other end the in-form Hammill forced Camp to make a spectacular save at the expense of a corner – and shortly after we were grateful to see two headed chances miss the target from Foster and then Julian Gray in quick succession.  This woke up the modest following from Yorkshire who – in fairness – certainly made more noise man-for-man than our North-Eastern visitors at the weekend.

Even if it was 90% about the miners strike.

After a Forest attack fizzled out Tys reacted angrily to being fairly blatantly hauled down by Shotton, the referee booked him for it – which is probably fair, although Tyson’s frustration was understandable given the referee’s blind spot for what he felt was a foul on him.  Still, I’m not a fan of seeing our players react in that way so a yellow was probably warranted.

Before half time Tyson had picked up a knock to the ankle, and shortly after the booking he was withdrawn for Majewski who was looking lively.  Raddy’s first act was to take a dangerous corner, the melee which ensued saw Dex pick up a knock and get replaced by Dele, whilst Raddy went to take another corner from the other side that had come from his first attempt.

Raddy was finding space and time to get on the ball and try to create something – and he almost slipped McGoldrick in but for a good last ditch tackle from Shotton to deny him.  At the other end Wilson was on hand to deny former-Red Andy Gray who was a Barnsley sub from connecting with what looked like a good goal-scoring opportunity.

Just as I was starting to lose any hope that we’d get a breakthrough the simplest of goals left us delirious.  A long ball from McKenna was chested down by Adebola into the path of Moussi who powered the ball into the net and powered himself into the Trent End to celebrate with the fans.  This culminated in a second yellow card and an early bath for the match winner.

Moussi’s first booking had been ostensibly for him kicking the ball away – at the time I wasn’t entirely convinced that the Frenchman had realised that play had stopped, as it appeared to be him playing it rather than an act of petulance.  Regardless, it certainly provided a memorable finish and undoubtedly left a few early-departers kicking themselves for their impatience.

We’re still in seventh place – but in this tightest of leagues we’re only two points off the top!  As Billy rightly said post-match, league tables are broadly irrelevant ’til January or later – however, regardless of this grain of truth – it’s still nice to be north of half-way in it, and open up a sizeable gap between us and a certain other team who lost again this evening!

Five straight league wins is something we’ve not achieved for three and a half years – so heartiest congratulations to the lads.  The bad news for us is that Dex looks likely to be missing for a couple of weeks with an overstretched medial knee ligament.  Thankfully it isn’t a tear.  Onward and upwards!

Dex’s goal against Newcastle..

It’s a shame they don’t quite show the whole build-up – but most of it, along with a few angles.  Makes you wonder why Alan Smith was the man tracking Dexter, with Enrique coming across too – where were their central defence?!  I’ve definitely seen plenty of those given offside erroneously in the past – but it looks to me like the rightback plays him on.

The video was removed by YouTube – they’re getting quicker I’m afraid!

Lovely finish though, if he meant it!

Of course, I hadn’t mentioned it before – but Saturday evening was capped off from a Nottingham sporting perspective with a win on points for Carl Froch in the Ice Arena against Andy Dirrell too – well done, Carl!

Forest vs. Barnsley preview..

Somebody’s run is going to have to end on Tuesday.  Barnsley are resurgent under new boss Mark Robins, who of course already played a pivotal role in history at the City Ground by scoring the goal that supposedly saved Sir Alex Ferguson’s career.  Now, as manager of the Tykes he’s engineered a run of three consecutive league wins – with Forest of course on a run of four having despatched Newcastle on Saturday.

Disappointingly we’re unlikely to see the same kind of attendance that the visit of the Toon Army helped draw to the City Ground, but hopefully the fans will have noted how helpful the positive atmosphere around the place is to the on-field performance.

Forest – as we well know – are now sitting in the strange position of seveth place, on equal points with fifth and sixth.  Barnsley are currently in a lowly nineteenth after a shaky start to the season – although given the way the first twelve games have panned out a win for the Tykes at the City Ground could put them up to twelfth in the table and just a couple of points off the playoff places.

On the injury front we are missing long term injuries Perch and Bennett, whilst Earnshaw too is out for a few weeks with a calf injury.  The Newcastle game doesn’t appear to have cost us any other personnel despite both McKenna and Anderson being substituted after picking up slight niggles.  Billy might choose to rotate a few players though after a tough workout against the Geordies.

Our visitors too find themselves in fine fettle after beating Yorkshire rivals Doncaster at the weekend.  Former Mansfield defender Bobby Hassell is their only missing player, cultured midfielder Da Silva has recently recovered from injury and may feature in a starting place having been given a run out from the bench against Donny on Saturday.

I would say that Dex is our man to watch – which I realise is starting to sound repetitive – although I would also note that he was looking decidedly jaded in the second half at the weekend, and probably would have been substituted had it not been for McKenna’s niggle.  For our opponents they’ve spread their goals around a few players this season so far – Hammill, Macken and Gray all have three, Bogdanovic, Hume and Da Silva all have a couple.

At the back Barnsley have shipped a few goals though – so I am expecting them to arrive equipped to frustrate and try to hit us on the break.  If Billy gets his tactics right then this game is eminently winnable – however, Barnsley are no slouches and the Reds need to take this seriously, and I have no reason to think they won’t do so.

So fingers crossed it isn’t a case of ‘after the lord mayors show’ for Forest – a smaller and realistically less vocal crowd will be there, so it might feel like somewhat of an anti-climax for the players compared to the full house and buzzing atmosphere at the weekend.  With a bit of luck more fans will be lured to the ground, and to get behind the Reds.

Reds run goes on as Toon Army succumb..

Nolan shows his frustration after missing a chance

Nolan shows his frustration after missing a chance

Nottingham Forest – 1
Newcastle United – 0

Billy Davies called for the fans to back the team, the fans backed the team, the team repaid the fans.  A definite game of two halves, the first of which was the best performance I’ve seen from Forest under Billy.  Davies opted to pack the midfield with Raddy and the the wingers pushing forward to support the lone striker up front in Dex.  And it worked a treat.

McGoldrick and Chambers made way for Moussi and Wilson, as Forest lined up like this:

Camp
Gunter   Morgan   Wilson   Cohen
Anderson   McKenna   Majewski   Moussi   Tyson
Blackstock

With the Sky cameras looking on and the largest crowd so far of the season, the Reds did a convincing job of looking befitting of the kind of stage on which they found themselves.  Their confidence on the pitch transmitted well to the stands enabling the home support to provide a fairly consistent soundtrack that, despite their impressive numbers, the travelling Toon Army weren’t able to match.

The Reds started positively, and the referee stamped his authority on the game immediately by booking Alan Smith for kicking the ball away after Newcastle conceded a freekick. It was only three minutes gone when the Newcastle keeper had his first save to make.  Wes Morgan lofted a good ball in which Dexter Blackstock met with his head – it was well-directed and lacked power, so the goalie was able to keep it out with a smart diving save.

Majewski had the next attempt, but his looping left footed strike from around twenty yards out was as good as straight at Harper who made the catch.  There was little Harper could do a few minutes later though, just as I commented to the fan adjacent to me that we were rubbish at corners, a good delivery from Raddy was met by a thumping header from Blackstock.  Harper was rooted to his line but the ball struck the post.

Naturally being a Forest fan I was starting to fear a West Brom type game, where early dominance and chances not taken would ultimately cost us – and before the half hour mark the visitors did start to show signs of stirring.  A freekick from far out was whipped in by Ryan Taylor, Harewood – who’d been firmly wedged in Wes’s pocket so far, really should’ve tapped it in but it went through everyone to strike the far post.

On the break Anderson performed a minor miracle to keep the ball in down the left side after a pass from Tyson, and ended his run with a shot from range that was quite straight forward for Harper to deal with.  More good work from Anderson ultimately ended up with Tys striking a powerful volley on the turn – unfortunately he hadn’t quite got his bearings right and struck it wide of the goal.

The goal came at that ‘perfect’ time before half time – winning the ball in defence there was some nice passing (which at the time looked risky in our defensive third!), culminating in the ball coming to Majewski who saw Dexter’s run and played the ball in to him perfectly.  Harper closed the angle but Dex either showed great cool or miskicked slightly to roll the ball into the bottom corner to give the Reds a deserved lead.

Dexter scores the only goal of the game

Dexter scores the only goal of the game

Clearly the orange-faced duo of Hughton and Smoulderwood must have had some stirring words for Newcastle, as the side that came roaring out the blocks for the second half were a much different proposition.  Whilst the Reds’ passing and ability to control a game was on show in the first half, their ability to defend and deal with pressure would be tested in the second.

The Magpies passed the ball around well and threatened, Harewood looked eager to impress on his old ground and made a few dubious choices when perhaps a pass was better than a shot.  Where the Reds had been composed in the first, Newcastle now hassled and harried and forced errors.  Possession wasn’t coming easy to the Reds now unlike in the first half.

Billy replaced Majewski with McGoldrick in midfield to try to add a bit of strength and composure to proceedings.  Newcastle still pressed and Carroll came close but for a Morgan block, rebounding to Nolan who shot wide from a narrow angle.  Then came the moment of controversy for Newcastle fans, as Nolan netting only to be ruled offside – although it took the travelling fans a LONG time to realise.

At the time I wasn’t shouting offside, I must admit.  Looking at the replay on The Football League show, Nolan was fractionally ahead of the last defender when Alan Smith flicked the ball on to him – so a good call by the linesman, but a sure warning sign of the intentions of our visitors who were continuing to pile on the pressure.

The Reds defended stoutly and sought to counter-attack where possible, after a good tackle from Smith, Anderson was left prone on the deck requiring treatment.  He played on briefly and was eventually replaced by Lewis McGugan, receiving a great ovation from the Forest fans who’d appreciated his efforts over the course of the game.

Newcastle had removed Harewood from the pitch and replaced him with Ranger – whose first action was to win a free header but put it over.  McKenna was the final player for the reds to be withdrawn from the action, replaced by Joe ‘the booking’ Garner who got a cheap yellow card almost immediately.  In the four minutes of stoppage time the Reds had the closest chance, Tyson crossing to McGoldrick who had his shot blocked.

Gutierrez, who had come on as a substitute after an hour, forced a late save from Camp – but it wasn’t anything too threatening and eventually the whistle sounded to signal the end of the game to no small relief from the home fans.  Billy has been at pains to reiterate Forest’s status as a work-in-progress – and I agree with him completely, however, the progression in his work is certainly significant.

Men of the match, tough call – as nobody had a bad game, but Blackstock, Morgan and Wilson all stood out in their performances I thought.

Forest vs. Newcastle United preview..

Like it or not, Newcastle are the team that everyone wants to beat this year in the Championship – and they’re wearing their media mantle of ‘big club in the second tier’ rather well by sitting pretty at the top of the pile at present.  Forest are of course in a good vein of form – however, that run has come against largely low-lying league table dwellers meaning Saturday will present a very different kind of challenge.

A near sell-out attendance is expected despite the Sky cameras also broadcasting the game, so the atmosphere should be pretty good – particularly from the large travelling contingent expected from Tyneside.  There will of course be the added interest for Forest fans that this will mark the return of both Marlon Harewood and of course Smoulderwood to the City Ground – neither of whom I can imagine garnering a negative reception.

So, on to team news – Earnie will be unavailable due to picking up an injury with Wales, although he’s had to largely content himself with a place on the bench of late anyway.  He’s expected to be out for up to four weeks.  Gunter has also been on duty with Wales so hopefully he can come through unscathed.  Raddy Majewski returned from a Poland U23 fixture with no problems, so Earnie aside we have no new issues.

Our visitors have doubts over both Steven Taylor and Fabricio Coloccini – giving them a bit of a headache in central defence.  Enrique has recovered from a hamstring injury so could feature at left-back.  Key players Barton and Ameobi are both expected to be sidelined by injury, although the bad news for us is that Marlon Harewood has apparently recovered from a foot injury and will be available (no offence, Marlon – but I don’t want you scoring past us!!).

The official preview points at Alan Smith as the man to watch.  The former striker-turned-midfield-stalwart has only missed one game for the Geordies this season (through suspension), and has put in a number of eye-catching performances.  Maybe that’s where Billy got the idea to play Joe Garner in midfield?  That said, they boast an impressive squad for this level all over the park, without singling out one player – and despite their injury concerns.

The Reds need to be prepared to take the game to Newcastle if they are to prevail, I think.  I’m not the most naturally optimistic person in the world anyway (arf, understatement or what?) so unfortunately my spider senses are pointing at a reasonably comprehensive defeat – however, if we can take the battle to them then it could go our way.  If Forest at their best turn up we could just do it.

But I won’t be betting on it!

On a completely unrelated note, I noticed a further example of The Daily Mirror being a bunch of abhorrent c**ts.  Although I shan’t further dignify their vitriolic nonsense with any further comment.

Evening with Billy: Postponed!

Those of you interested in ‘an Evening with Billy Davies‘ should note that the date has unfortunately had to be pushed back a couple of weeks due to Billy’s scheduling; so will now take place on Thursday 26th November.

Which is good news for me as subject to checking what I’ve got on I think I should be able to make it now, it will be interesting to hear what the wee fella has got to say.  If anyone has tickets already and can’t make the new date then I’m told they will, of course, be refunded.

I’m told tickets are selling fast, so snap one up if you’re wanting to go!  Available online via Gigantic.com or by either popping in to The Approach or calling 0115 9506149.

150 must-read Clough stories..

Books about Clough always seem to start with the author justifying their decision to write it.  The fact of the matter is, Clough was and remains a fascinating character who generates massive interest – surely that’s the only justification you need?  Particularly when you’re utilising real people’s real memories to paint a charming picture of a football legend.

Given the lack of football aside from extortionate grainy internet streams of England’s defeat against Ukraine, it seemed as good a time as any to start getting stuck into 150 BC: Cloughie The Inside Stories compiled by Dave Armitage.  The author, a journalist who worked many years with Clough, has basically utilised his stella contact list to create this ‘from the horses mouths’ compendium of Clough anecdotes.

I’m only about a third of the way in to the tome, but given it comprises 150 fairly short sections I can get enough of a flavour of what the book is about – plus, as I always do, I’ve already had a flick through to get to some of the fantastic photographs the book contains too.  The stories I’ve read so far have been a mixture of familiar tales – and some new ones too, each story also capped off with a classic Clough quote – again, a mixture of the familiar and the new.

The mission statement of the author was that he felt Clough’s humour and warmth were perhaps traits that weren’t aptly encapsulated in other works – so he’s gone all out to rectify this.  Perhaps the nicest story I’d not heard before that I’ve encountered so far was from his former assistant Alan Hill.

Upon a fall-out with his daughter Elizabeth, Brian wanted to get a dog by means of making up with her (or ‘getting her onside’ as was phrased in the book!) – Hill accompanied him to a kennels where he found a litter of Golden Retrievers to his liking.  The breeder was naturally set to pick out the best puppy in the litter – but Clough insisted on taking the runt, leaving the kennel with it promising it a good life.

The beauty of this book – for me at least – is that because it’s comprised of so many short accounts from former players, friends, journalists etc, it is really easy to just pick up to read a couple more even when you’re pressed for time.  Whilst it’s unusual to review a book before finishing it, I can be confident enough to strongly recommend this one if – like me – you still obsess over all things Clough.

Some of the fantastic pictures alone make it worth it – the poignant image of Clough making his famous thumbs-up gesture to travelling Forest fans at Ipswich after his last game in charge, Peter Shilton kissing the European Cup – or for the more mischievous, him grabbing Nigel Mansell where it hurts during a Labatts promotion – with Roy Keane looking on laughing.

Definitely one for your Christmas lists if you don’t have it already!

The joy of Dex..

Since I’ve had no football to watch I’ve naturally been mentally reviewing the season so far (as in reviewing it in my mind, rather than doing so with a mental illness!).  Early though it is, I must admit I’ve got to concur with one of Billy’s post-Peterborough comments.  I couldn’t find the quote, but he commented on Forest’s unsung heroes, and he named a few of them.

Dex and Chambo celebrate after the second goal against Scunthorpe

Dex and Chambo celebrate after the second goal against Scunthorpe

Paul McKenna was one – and whilst I think his last couple of games have been disappointing from a use-of-the-ball point of view – his workrate and positioning has been great, and his breaking up of play.  Not to mention his much needed leadership of some of our younger players.  However the other name he listed I can very much agree with – Dexter Blackstock, what a signing he looks to be.

It’s unusual to describe your current top scorer as an unsung hero – indeed, most of our players are literally unsung as only about three of our first team squad seem to actually have chants from the supporters.  Dex is so much more than just your archetypal striker – he grafts, usually for the full ninety minutes, and he’s rapidly becoming my favourite player by far.

Not only does the frontman have an eye for goal, he has an eye on the team picture – and without being disrespectful to his striking colleagues – that’s unusual for a striker.  Dele is in a similar position, I think, but we’ve seen less of him because Dex’s on the pitch performances have made him difficult to leave out in a very competitive position in the Forest squad.

Dexter is walking the walk on the pitch – and after the Peterborough game he was talking the talk in the Evening Post.  Whilst the ‘fighting talk’ and making the City Ground a fortress might be considered a bit naive, our players must have a winning mentality to stand a hope in hell of making it reality – but the best comments of all, which underpins why I rate Dex so highly:

“It has been nice to get goals, it is always good to score goals, but it is more about the team and how the team is getting on.  It is not about personal glory, it is about the team winning promotion.

“We have quality throughout the strike force and when games are coming Saturday and Tuesday, it is demanding on the legs.  It is difficult to play back-to-back matches at the tempo we do, with the way that the manager wants us to play.

“I can see why the manager does rotate the team.  You want to play in every game, that goes without saying.  But if the manager chooses to rotate, so be it.”

Keep up the good work Dex, and City Ground/away travelling songsmiths – get this guy, and indeed the rest of our team, some songs sorted out – I long for the days when I started watching Forest when every player had their own song, and generally they were all reeled off whilst they warmed up.

Whilst looking for a suitable picture, I also discovered Dex has his name to a Soccer School for kids!

In memory of Tommy Capel..

Most of us won’t remember Tommy Capel – he was part of the Forest team of 1951 that won the Third Division South.  He scored 24 goals that season from the position of inside left (I have no idea what an inside left is – but given I surmised an outside left was basically a left winger when discovering about Stewart Imlach – perhaps an inside left is a  left sided central midfielder?  Or more advanced?).

In one game – a 9-2 demolition of Gillingham, he bagged four goals.  Indeed, over four years with us he amassed a haul of 72 goals in 164 appearances – forming a lethal goalscoring partnership with Wally Ardron – who netted 36 goals in that promotion season, a record that still stands today, I’m sure he had Tommy to thank for a few of those goals, too.

He passed away at the age of 87, and naturally I would like to extend sincere condolences to his family and friends at what must be an upsetting time.  Mark Arthur said: “The club would like to extend sincere condolences to Tommy’s family and friends at this sad time.  Tommy’s contribution to the club’s promotion success in the early 1950s won’t ever be forgotten.”

Rest in peace, Tommy.