Middlesbrough vs. Forest preview..


Over 3,000 Reds will be making the trip up north to the Riverside Stadium to cheer on Forest tomorrow.  That in itself is probably testament to the cautious optimism that is starting to ferment gently around the City Ground.  Few are getting too carried away, but the fact we go up to Boro above them in the league is a welcome scenario.

Gordon Strachan’s arrival at Teeside hasn’t had the fairytale start – but he’s bolstered his out-of-form side with the likes of Marcus Bent, Dave Kitson and former Forest loanee Isaiah Osbourne in midfield.  Certainly it will prove a stern test for the Reds after a couple of weeks break, who will still be without Nathan Tyson, and have a half-fit-at-best Dexter Blackstock possibly available.

In better news on the injury front, Robert Earnshaw should almost certainly be fit to take part – I’d expect him to start, and Perch is continuing his quest for fitness and is likely to feature on the bench.  I expect a cagey lineup from Forest as we’ve seen of late, with the quick midfielders given the role of supporting a lone striker.

I expect Boro to be more positive, with their attack-minded loanees and the dangerous Adam Johnson – so there’ll be a degree of early storm-weathering to be done.  However, with a moderately impatient home crowd that will be outsung by the travelling support I’m hoping for a spirited performance from Forest.

Middlesbrough certainly shouldn’t hold any fear for us, we’ve already beaten them this season in the cup – although with a change in manager and some additions to their squad they are a different prospect.  I can’t help but think, if forced into a prediction, that there’s a good chance of the unbeaten run continuing – but no return to winning ways for the mighty Reds.

Looking forward to the trip though, if not the drive – see you all up there! YOOOOOOOOOOU REDS!

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Festive Forest packages for the forces..

Do you have family or friends on Ops with the Armed Forces overseas?  If so here is an opportunity to send them some Forest Festive Fun to remind them that the folks at home are thinking of them at Christmas.  With the kind permission and support of Nottingham Forest, a couple of fans have arranged to set up a collection point in the car park behind the Brian Clough Stand (look out for vehicles marked with RAF logos) to collect packages at the Forest vs. Doncaster game on Saturday 28th November between 10.30am and 2pm.

If you are a Forest or Doncaster Fan and have a family member, relative or friend serving in the Armed Forces on Operations overseas then all you have to do is drop off a package with goodies in and it arrangements will be made to send it overseas.  The packages must:

  • Be a shoe box sized package.  Bigger boxes will not be accepted.
  • Weigh no more than 2Kg.-  Be marked with the recipients NAME, RANK, NUMBER
  • Marked with British Forces Post Office (BFPO) number where they are serving.
  • Not be sealed so that goodies can be added.  String tied is ideal.
  • Not contain any prohibited items:
    • Aerosols
    • Liquids
    • Perishable Goods (Fruit etc)
    • Glass etc
  • All prohibited items are detailed at: http://www.bfpo.mod.uk/mail_prohibitions.htm
  • Good items are boiled sweets, socks, gloves etc
  • Condoms are also good to put over rifle nozzles to keep the sand out (honest) !!!!!

The Club have been very supportive of this initiative and are providing a selection of Forest Goodies to go in every package, even for those heathens who support other teams, so the recipients can be cheered by the thought of the Mighty Reds and their fans supporting them at Christmas.  It is also understood that some of the players will be submitting packages for their friends and families out in theatre.

If anyone cannot make it to the ground on the day to drop off a package, or if anyone wants to check out the details of the BFPO Free Packet Service run by the Post Office before putting their box together then check out the following link:

http://www.bfpo.mod.uk/enduring_free_packet_service.htm

Ed: This is a great initiative, and will be really welcomed by those folks out in hostile places when we’re all enjoying the festivities and hopefully the ongoing good performances of the mighty Reds.

Reds to make Majewski permanent?

If reports are to be believed then Forest are mobilising to buy out the Polish international’s contract with Polonia Warszawa.  The midfielder has shown some fantastic glimpses of his capabilities and has really hit the ground running in English football, so this will be news of considerable delight to Forest fans, certainly this one!

Certainly it is gratifying to hear comments like these from the player himself: “Negotiations with Nottingham is currently ongoing and being done through my manager.  He will inform me if anything is considered to be a done deal.  If there is a chance for me to stay in England, I would gladly take it, I feel like a new player here.  Fortunately, there is a good chance for that to happen.

Given his influence on our squad even when suffering with illness recently, it’s quite an exciting prospect to see him develop as a full-time squad member, so let’s hope that the parties involved reach an agreement as soon as possible. 1.5m Euro (or about £1.3m) is a steal in my opinion.

In other midfield news we’re being linked with 21 year old Ipswich midfielder Owen Garvan, with Cardiff and Scunthorpe also apparently interested.  I’ve only seen him play a couple of times and been impressed, and if Roy Keane has decided he’s no suitable for his quest to turn perpetual playoff contenders into relegation fodder, then that could well be a smart move for the Reds, although if you follow the link above you’ll find Ipswich fans’ views are predictably varied.

An evening with King Kenny – a COMPLETE bargain.

Everyone else distinctly underwhelmed with watching England’s ‘prestige’ friendly with the never-broke-into-a-sprint-and-still-kicked-our-arse Brazil side?  I’m really starting to dislike international breaks, but at least Earnie got some game-time under his belt in Wales’ impressive result against Scotland.  Anyway, on to the purpose – I have had word from the proprietors of The Approach of an unmissable and bargainous night out you can enjoy in a few weeks.

Check out the flyer below, an evening with Kenny Burns – who is always good value in his own right, accompanied by Johns Robertson and McGovern.  If that wasn’t enough, the £10 ticket includes a copy of his new book ‘No ifs or butts’ which will be personally signed by all three of the Forest legends present that evening.  Frankly, you would need to come up with a good reason not to go!

Thursday 3rd December is the date for your diary, you can pickup tickets either at The Approach, The Southbank Bar or online via Gigantic.com.  See flyer below for full details, and watch this space for further exciting events taking place at The Approach soon!

Kenny Flyer

A point Bristol-fashion puts Reds up to eighth..

Lest we forget

Nottingham Forest – 1
Bristol City – 1

It was the case of two immovable objects in the first half, as Gary Johnson decided to pack midfield – and so did Billy Davies!  It was actually the visitors who broke ranks first to attack which opened up the game in the second half, and two late goals meant the teams had to share the spoils – which on balance of play I think I would classify as a fair result, but it always feels disappointing to lose a lead to a late goal.  Ask a Cardiff fan last week!

It all started with – quite rightly – a minute silence ahead of Remembrance Sunday, which was well observed by a crowd that included plenty of folks in military uniforms.

Anthony Taylor avoided too much controversy, but was as whistle and card-happy as ever for both sides throughout – having to be in the action as soon as thirty seconds when an apparently over-excited Maynard annihilated Gunts in a challenge that areas of the ground seemed to think might have warranted more than the yellow card he received.  It seems Gunts is a bit of a target for fouls like that, after being on the end of one at Cardiff too!

The Reds were largely unchanged in terms of personnel from the Cardiff game, but Garner was operating more freely than against Cardiff, but again it was five in the middle to match Bristol, with McGoldrick a forlorn figure leading the line alone.

Camp
Gunter   Morgan   Wilson   Cohen
Moussi   McKenna
Anderson   Majewski   Garner
McGoldrick

Inbetween the midfield stalemate there were opportunities though, Raddy played a lovely ball through towards Anderson but Kerken was quick off his line to get there first.  Anderson again was denied a change by a last ditch challenge by the impressive Skuse after a good cross from Gunter.  In fact, if truth be told, City’s defence dealt very comfortably with the little we had to offer in terms of dangerous forward play.

City continued to assert their physical (read: dirty) side of play, this time it was Sno who went in ludicrously late on Paul McKenna for no good reason and picked up a booking for his trouble.  Probably amongst the closest chances we had was a 25 yard effort from Joe Garner, well struck but just wide – and I’m not convinced it would have had the beating of the ‘keeper had it been inside the post rather than outside.

The Robins were clearly playing the waiting game – but did have some moments upfront, Haynes broke and looked clear to bear down on Camp but for an excellent saving tackle from Kelvin Wilson. Kelv is looking more and more the player we think him capable of being of late, which is great to see.  There was time for a couple more Reds chances, a Majewski shot from the edge of the box was straight at the ‘keeper, as was a Garner header from a McGoldrick cross.

Half time came and it’s disappointing to say that some of the fans were having a grumble – it wasn’t a great half, don’t get me wrong, but even still. The visiting fans seemed to retain that strange dislike for us that they’ve had since Smoulderwood said something fairly innoccuous about them – still, whatever floats your boat I suppose!

As thought, City came out for the second half much more positively – and they had the first opportunity which fell to the dangerous Maynard but his chance was blocked by Wes.  Shortly after Wes was marauding their penalty area, he was felled (I don’t think it was a penalty as he’d kicked the ball too far away, but I don’t think he dived either) and booked ridiculously for diving.  This is where inconsistencies annoy me, because the ref waved on play when Brizzle players hit the deck rather too easily but never once booked any for diving.

Billy responded to the more open style of play by reducing our midfield by one and introducing Dele Adebola for Majewski just shy of the hour mark.  City were putting solid pressure on us though, and Camp needed to show he was concentrating which he was, claiming the ball amongst bodies and staying alert to one of those dangerous inswinging freekicks which on this occasion went straight at the goal without anyone getting their head on it.

McCleary replaced Garner to add a bit more attacking flair, and the winger had a shot quite early after a good ball from Cohen but dragged it wide from the edge of the box.  Forest were really looking at their most dangerous so far in the afternoon, and the Moose put in a fantastic cross that just evaded McGoldrick before going out of play.  This brought about the long-awaited return of Robbie Earnshaw who took to the field to a great ovation.

The best moment of defending in the game came after – McCleary did really well to get past his man in the area on the goal-line, and square back to Anderson who looked certain to score but for an excellent intervetion by Skuse to stop the ball pretty much on the line.  The crowd started to get behind the lads, and the breakthrough came from a Cohen freekick which was touched on by Adebola to fall nicely for Wes Morgan to spanner the ball into the net from six yards.

Perhaps we should have made it safe too, dele played a ball shortly after in to Earnie who shot over.  Surely a fully fit and sharp Earnie would’ve at least worked the goalkeeper?

The game of course ended on a sour note for us – a well-worked but badly-defended visitor attack lead to their equaliser.  Hartley was afforded far too much time to pick out an excellent cross which McCombe nodded to Haynes, who made no mistake with the finish.  As I noted above, a draw was probably fair on balance of play, but as we know from last week, a getting the equaliser feels a lot better than losing the lead to a late goal.

However, up to eighth in the table, eight games unbeaten – in a run which has seen us play some good teams in this league – I can’t say I’m unhappy with that situation!  In other news, Billy just missed out on Manager of the Month to Cardiff’s Dave Jones – who enjoyed a similarly successful October to us.  Hard luck Billy!  Kelv would be my pick for man of the match, with Wes a close second – both besmirched their performance by allowing the late goal though.

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.

McGugan celebration inspired by the West End..

I’m sure Mr Lloyd Webber would be disgusted with my crass re-rendering of one of his more famous musicals, but it made me chuckle so there!

For those of you who’ve yet to catch McGugan’s dramatic injury time leveller, then you could do worse than click on this link right here!