Forest vs. Bristol City preview..

I know I often rightly get pulled up for being a pessimistic bugger, but surely this impressive run of results (and indeed, for the most part, performances to go with them) has to come to an end sooner or later.  With wee Billy a candidate (albeit with some stiff competition) for the monthly managerial accolade, perhaps if that happens it will act as the theoretical bad omen?  Or maybe I’m just being Mr Negative and it won’t.

Bristol City certainly aren’t mugs.  I say that a lot, the truth is that no side in this league are really mugs – well, possibly one not too far away from us – and certainly it has proven the case that we aren’t quite as wet behind the ears as we were last season.  Billy’s boys are capable of passing the ball around in pretty triangles with the best of them, but with a mean underpinning of malice that will punish sides in uglier fashion should the game require it.

Last season’s City Ground clash with the Robins was a humdinger of a tie, with Forest sealing what felt like a pivotal win thanks to a stoppage time Dexter Blackstock strike.  Dex was only on loan then, of course, but now as a permanent signing he won’t have much hope of reenacting his heroics of that afternoon as his knee injury is very unlikely to make him available for the game.  In better news Robbie Earnieshaw could well be fit to return.

Whilst we all feared the logistics of having six strikers to keep happy, it’s proven a godsend with Dex, Tyson and Earnie all unavailable, particularly with Billy’s preference for cameoing Garner in a midfield role of late.  However, if Earnie were to return it would be most welcome as he represents one of the better of our ‘end product’ attackers – something which was notably absent for much of last weekend’s clash against Cardiff, lots of good approach play – not many direct chances.

Our visitors are not without a few injury issues too, captain Louis Carey picked up an injury in their weekend draw with Sheffield Wednesday and is listed as a doubt.  Elsewhere in their defence Liam Fontaine is not expected to be fit.  That aside, there’s still plenty for the Reds to be thinking about, not least dangerous frontman Nicky Maynard.

Forest have a good recent record against City, even in times bleaker than these current almost-halcyon days.  That makes me nervous for a start.  1955 was the last time they won at the City Ground, indeed, they haven’t beaten us in the last sixteen attempts – we are somewhat of a bogey side for them.  Other causes of concern are the match officials for the game (thanks to the informative Vital preview).

Anthony Taylor has form at the City Ground, sending Kelvin Wilson off for no apparent reason in a 2-1 Reds victory over Huddersfield Town.  Although on the flipside he apparently awarded a nonsense penalty against City last season, too – so either he has a grudge against both teams or is an incompetent buffoon.  It looks like we’ll have two lady assistant referees for the afternoon too – I’ve noticed appallingly bad games from Amy Rayner in the past, but Sasa Ihringova is an official I’ve yet to see in action.

So what does all that mean?  Reds on a good run, high on confidence, possible return of Earnie, opponents who consider us their bogey side – oh I don’t know!  Certainly I’m greatly looking forward to returning to the City Ground after what feels like an awful long absence.  How good is it too look forward so much to games coming up rather than that grim forboding feeling that used to kick in around mid-afternoon on Thursdays?

I still think we’ll lose, though, probably due to a shockingly bad refereeing decision.  Or maybe that’s just what I want you think I think.  I think.  In all seriousness I think there will be a winner at the weekend, and only a single goal will seperate the sides.  I might even have a bet on it.