Reds spark Christmas cheer a few days early..

A captain's performance - hard to look past McKenna for man of the match against his former club

Nottingham Forest – 3
Preston North End – 0

The Reds won this at a stroll, and that’s not a slur on their efforts – they just made it look so easy. It helped that Preston were never really at the races, by the time they’d mustered a chance they’d already conceded two.  All in all, a most satisfactory afternoon and, for me, followed by some degree of over-indulgence around the wonderful city of Nottingham.

So fourteen games unbeaten, a clean sheet – equal on points with West Brom (who admittedly have a game in hand) and we’ve also started to open a gap between us and Cardiff (who admittedly also have a game in hand).  Very satisfying indeed, and Billy and the boys should go into Christmas week extremely pleased wiht their work so far this season.

Billy lined up with a slightly different line-up to the ‘home’ line-up – apparently Dex had been suffering with illness so a place on the bench for him and a starting berth for big Dele:

Gunter   Morgan   Wilson   Shorey
Anderson   McKenna   Majewski   Cohen
Adebola   Earnshaw

The early match was positive from Forest, probing to find in roads with Preston frankly looking both jaded and incredibly nervous.  Dele had the first chance after a good ball from McKenna but the big man couldn’t quite get the ball under control before Collins was able to intervene at the expense of a corner.  This was taken well by Raddy, finding Wes beyond the back stick but the angle was tricky and the defender put the header just wide.

It didn’t take too long for us to breach their defence though, another corner – this time from Cohen – was punched clear by Lonergan, finding Paul McKenna who took one excellent touch and then unleashed an unstoppable shot from around 25 yards.  The Reds captain also showed a lot of class by not celebrating scoring against his former club.

Earnie was looking very lively and eager to score – and thought he had shortly after with an excellent turn and finish, but the linesman’s flag was up.  I’ve not seen the goals yet (a treat for later when the hangover has cleared), but a text from a friend watching from afar on Sky suggested the wee fella wasn’t offside at all and the goal should’ve stood.  Earnie tried again from range but his 30 yard shot was never likely to trouble Lonergan.

We didn’t have long to wait for a second though, a frankly fantastic Nicky Shorey cross was converted with technical excellence by Dele Adebola – volleying into the goal from around six yards out.  At this point our visitors contributed a little more.  Chaplow should’ve done better when unusually Kelvin let someone past – but his shot didn’t even trouble Camp.  Wallace too had an effort just wide.

Order was restored in the run up to half time – Majewski squared up to score an absolutely snorting goal but his powerful drive from the edge of the penalty area didn’t have quite enough curl on it so ended up just wide.  A great ball by Majewski set Anderson free who shot from around 12 yards from an angle – perhaps a centre might’ve been the better option.

Camp finally had a chance to make a ‘save for the cameras’ with Billy Jones finally providing a shot on target for the visitors.  That lead us to half time – another somewhat stress free half time!  Aside from the freezing conditions, it was most enjoyable – I imagine Bovril sales must’ve been up for Forest yesterday!

Preston started positively, as they would have to really, and Chaplow again proved to be in a good position but didn’t do much of use with his final ball – his cross going straight out of play.  The Reds were very much in ‘contain and break’ mode – Majewski finding Anderson with a great pass, Ando’s cross wasn’t the best and when the ball broke to Cohen his shot from range was wide.

Another good chance for Earnie was provided by Cohen, and this time saved by Lonergan – but also the offside flag which was up against the striker.  Preston brought on Mellor and Parkin to ‘beef up’ their attacking options with surely the fattest strikeforce in the Championship, that said, Parkin certainly is a handful (and then some!) and not without a fair amount of skill.

A well worked move by Preston saw Parkin hold up the ball and finding Wallace who played an excellent cross to Mellor who spannered it into the away fans.  Forest withdrew Majewski for McCleary and moved Cohen from his roaming role to a central one, with McCleary on the right and Anderson on left.  This coincided with Preston’s best spell of the game – with limited chances, admittedly.

On the break Cohen worked well with Earnie to fashion a chance but it was well saved by Lonergan and eventually cleared.  Clearly it wasn’t happening for the wee fella today and he was replaced by Lewis McGugan.  A long range shot from McCleary wasn’t ever likely to trouble Lonergan – but there was very little he could do about our other substitute’s impact on the game.

A neat pass from Shorey left the midfielder still with plenty to do as he shimmied left past three defenders before slotting the ball neatly under Lonergan to end any slight fears we might have had.  To be honest though, and very unusually, as soon as the first goal went in I wasn’t really to worried about this game – which sits uncomfortably with a Forest fan of the last few seasons, doesn’t it?

Aside from a long range strike from McGugan which was just wide that was really it – a solid performance all round which they made look particularly easy, which is a great testament to the lads as whilst they’ve had a sticky run of late Preston aren’t a bad side at all.  Credit also to the fans amongst the away support who continued to party despite their side not really performing particularly well!

Merry Christmas one and all, if I don’t post anything before then – see you at Watford!