Jeremy Clarkson in praise of Forest fans..

I already made mention of the Top Gear presenters appearing on the pitch at half time at the Riverside Stadium yesterday, but it’s perhaps worth dwelling on for a moment – the full story is on the Middlesbrough website, but my favourite bit was naturally this quote from Clarkson himself:

The noise was incredible, while being slagged off for my size by 3,000 fans was amazing, so I thank the Forest fans too for that!”

It would appear that they were filming the stunt and presumably the exhibition they held at the Middlesbrough Institute of Modern Art – and it is due to be broadcast on 20th December 2009.  Hopefully the stadium appearance will make an appearance, and the barrage of banter from the Reds fans, be sure to tune in!

Perhaps we should send them some Forest memorabilia!

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We’re Nottingham Forest, unbeaten away..

Robbie Earnshaw is a red, is a red, is a red...

This was the definition of a game of two halves from Forest, a pretty poor quality first half in which an early goal gifted to Middlesbrough caused our hosts to play a pretty calculated game throughout.  The second half belonged to the Reds and certainly on balance of chances, whilst I’m pleased with a draw I think there’s an argument for suggesting that Forest did enough to feel they could’ve claimed all three points at the Riverside.

Less than two minutes were on the clock when a catalogue of errors involving our appalling marking meant that Adam Johnson was free on the left, he eventually found the equally badly marked Julio Arca on the right side.  His shot was saved by Camp – who I think should be either catching it or palming it somewhere safer – straight out to Lita who had no trouble at all finding the net.  Luckily I think that was the last save Camp had to make!

Forest were having immense difficulty holding on to the ball, and both the quality of passing and awareness of players that a bad pass could still reach them if they moved to the ball a bit was getting very frustrating.  The referee wasn’t helping, he’d booked Paul McKenna for a fairly run-of-the-mill foul and then ignored a series of other transgressions.  But referee aside Forest were mostly architects of their own downfall as Boro closed down everyone very quickly and we just didn’t cope with it.

The Moose had our first chance of the game, good work from Anderson found the midfielder with space to shoot – forcing a straightforward save from Brad Jones.  Twenty minutes of dreary football passed from both teams, before Joe Garner played McGoldrick – he turned, but the ball had run quite far.  We’ll never know whether he’d have got there because the Boro defender wrestled him to the ground.  Of course, the referee didn’t give a foul (and it was hard to see clearly from our end anyway, but naturally it was a stonewall penalty according to the angry man next to me!).

Our best chance of the half came at the end when Dele – who to be frank had an inauspicious half along with most of his teammates – won the ball well and turned into the area.  I think he should’ve shot himself, but he played a great ball in to McGoldrick putting him one-on-one, but his dithering and poor attempt at a sidestep gave Jones – and excellent goalkeeper – all the time he needed to work out his intentions and make a good save.

Despite playing mostly very badly, Forest had actually had more attempts on goal than the hosts – but with Adebola and McGoldrick not really clicking (Dele was winning plenty in the air, but Goldie was too far from him to profit from his flick ons and layoffs) it just wasn’t quite clicking.  The only pace in the side was Anderson – so I was hoping for some half time changes which were not to come.

What was entertaining was seeing Jeremy Clarkson, James May and Richard Hammond take to the Boro pitch in Newcastle shirts at half time.  They quickly changed into Boro shirts and announced an exhibition they’d organised at the MIMA.  Clarkson ending with “Nottingham, you can’t come!” to which the large Reds following responded with an almighty and extended bellow of “YOU FAT BASTARD”.  The curly-haired one didn’t really twig until a gleeful looking Richard Hammond pointed it out to him.  Good fun!

Forest came out the blocks fast in the second half, no changes but certainly a more determined team!  Joe Garner had a shot early in the half which he and the away end saw hit the defenders hand in the area, of course, the referee didn’t see it!  Dele had a header on target but it wasn’t difficult as it waws straight at Jones.  Garner had another effort from range which was just wide thanks to a deflection which gave us a corner.

Boro did had a break or two which didn’t culminate in any direct threat on our goal – and Forest were back on it, and we had another one-on-one with Anderson bursthing through on the left.  Ah, on the left.  He took one too many touches and again did a lot of Jones’ work for him who made the save with Anderson finally shooting from six yards.  It was starting to feel like the goal would never come!

Just thirteen minutes into the half the chants of the Forest fans were answered with Robbie Earnshaw taking the field in the place of McGoldrick, shortly after the hard-working-but-clearly-not-a-winger Joe Garner was taken off for McCleary.  Earnie was immediately buzzing around all over the place getting involved.  His chance finally came when the referee finally deigned to see a handball by a Middlesbrough defender, this time Wheater.

Unfortunately for us it was just outside the area – unfortunately for Boro, Jones set his wall up for a far-post freekick (which makes sense in a way, it was so close to dig it over the wall and under the bar would take some skill).  Fortunately Earnie has that skill – and dinked a lovely freekick over the wall and inside Jones’ near post where he couldn’t reach it.  He rushed off to the dugouts to somersault rather than the Forest end, which was interesting!

Dex replaced Dele with ten minutes left to rapturous applause from the Forest fans, and the boys picked up where they’d been playing and continued to press – Dex certainly didn’t show any signs of the injury he’s been recovering from, putting in a lot of running and defending from the front as well as seeking attacking opportunities.  Despite some pressure though, the Boro defence stayed solid aside from a deflected McCleary shot which made it into a simple catch for Jones.

Got to be happy with a point away from home at Boro, but we had enough chances to make it all three – not least by preventing the eminently preventable opening goal.  Good trip though, great to see the Red Army out in force – I wonder if we’ll get a mention on Top Gear any time soon?