Life goes on..

Can’t have many complaints really. Derby worked hard and didn’t let us play, an unattractive game from both sides with the Rams creating the better chances.

Raddy made a mess of a great chance he’d created, and Bywater made an excellent double save – but the rest if the chances of note came for the home side. Hulse was quite lucky to not have picked up a second yellow, but we know only too well he can be in an aerial bombardment!

Pisser to lose our unbeaten runs to them, but it gives any complacency a kick up the arse, and gives Billy ammunition to pressure the panel to get a left-back in. Perchy struggled today out of position.

Derby fans get the bragging rights, but we stay second. Will update properly later in the week – this is from my phone in a service station! Chin up, Reds fans!

Just to get you in the mood..

C’mon you Red Dogs!

Derby County vs. Forest preview..

In case you hadn’t realised, we’ve a football match on Saturday.  Whilst it may not get much national recognition, games between these two sides are generally passionate affairs – and I’m really looking forward to it.  Pride Park of course hasn’t been a remotely happy hunting ground for the Reds, never registering a win since the Rams moved house to an industrial estate.  Form would suggest that this could be an excellent chance to remedy this.

The cliche to dig out for any ‘derby’ game is that the form book counts for nothing.  The Reds go in to this with the opportunity of extending their unbeaten league run to twenty games – the Rams prepared midweek by travelling to Plymouth and losing.  They’ve won one league game in six, and lost the last three league games at Pride Park.  They have, however had a couple of decent cup results at home – a win against Millwall (on penalties) in their replay, and beating Doncaster 1-0.

Agent Clough has been on a well-publicised purge of the wage bill at Derby, and rumours abound that they will listen to offers for their players – with Hulse linked to clearly-in-need-of-a-striker Queens Park Rangers.  Given our own links with extending Shorey’s loan (although he made the Villa bench tonight) and bids for Victor Moses – we too might have unexpected players available for inclusion.  As might the Rams – who are scouring the loan market to strengthen their squad.

Tuesday night’s game saw Wes pick up an injury, aside from that we’re in good shape – with Chambers waiting in the wings should he be needed.  I would expect to see Moussi return to midfield to give us strength in the middle probably at the expense of Earnie, leaving Dex up front.  The left-back berth will depend on whether Shorey’s services are reacquired – if not then Perchy will be keen to deputise again as he did to impressive effect against QPR.

Our hosts are likely to feature everyone’s favourite pantomime villain, Robbie Savage – who seems to be the first name on Clough’s teamsheet.  It will be interesting to see if he uses the game as an opportunity to try to get something out of a certain chubby winger who used to play for us.  The reports I hear from the Derby fans I know suggest that something Derby have lacked of late is wideplay, Clough opting to pack the midfield with central midfielders.

Billy Davies will, of course, have a much keener idea about our opponents than I – and will have prepared his team and tactics accordingly.  With Newcastle picking up an expected victory over troubled Crystal Palace this evening, we could temporarily occupy top-spot with a win of 3-0 or better.  Frankly, a scrappy 1-0 would be plenty for me and the other Forest fans lucky enough to avail themselves of a ticket.

That natural level of pessimism that only a football fan can have kicks in for me though (makes a change, huh?)… given the pressures Derby are under this game represents a massive opportunity for Agent Clough reduce some of the flak coming his way.  Aside from the (I think unlikely) risk of being sucked into a relegation scrap, this really does represent probably one of the few things Derby have left to play for this season.

On a more self-indulgent note, you’ll have to wait a bit (potentially a few days) for post-match reaction as I’m hot-footing it to the wilds of Scotland straight after the game (having already incurred the wrath of family members for joining them later – who organises such shindigs during football season!?) so will have limited if any connectivity.  I might get a chance to post something at some point, or maybe not – but don’t worry (as if you would!) my absence is definitely planned!

Of course, depending on the news drifting through the open transfer window this might not be the last you hear from me before the weekend (I’m still very much in “It’s January, we don’t do January signings” mode, though!)

Over to you, Newcastle!

Nottingham Forest – 5
Queens Park Rangers – 0

What a great warm up for Saturday’s visit to a certain place.  The Reds took a wee while to warm up, but each graduation from first to second gear left our hapless visitors flailing as Forest helped themselves to goals galore seemingly whenever they felt like it.  With the crowd clearly already thinking about the weekend, it took them and the team a while to get going – but well, the scoreline says it all, and we didn’t look like we were trying!

QPR of course arrived under a caretaker manager – Mick Harford is remembered mostly fondly for his time at Forest, I seem to recall we might’ve beaten QPR with him in temporary charge of us.  They’d just sold Routledge to Newcastle, and look as out-of-sorts as you would expect really.  Perhaps more so.  I couldn’t help but feel for the Hoops fans nestled at the back of the away end with very little recourse for joy as Forest fans lapped up a very comfortable win.

Meanwhile in Devon, Derby prepared for the weekend’s game by losing 1-0 to Plymouth, before a long miserable trek back to the midlands.  What a pity!  Anyway, back to us – we lined up with ‘the four-four-two team’, with obvious shuffles at the back given Shorey’s suspension:

Gunter    Morgan    Wilson    Perch
Cohen    McKenna    Majewski    Anderson
Blackstock    Earnshaw

It was great to see QPR old boys Camp and Dex get a good reception from the QPR fans before the game.  After making us swap ends it became apparent that Billy was asking Perch to slot into left back rather than Gunter, and it was Perch who provided the first chance for Blackstock – Raddy had found Perch out on the left and the Newcastle target put a decent cross in towards the Reds striker, who was beaten to the ball by Connolly on this occasion.

As fans were chanting about the forthcoming Derby match there was a worry in me that the players too might have half a thought on that game.  It was a bit of a needless concern, as it transpired – a freekick central just out the D was given after Blackstock was fouled.  As Ikeme set his wall up and took his stance I said to my neighbour that an Earnie right-footed chip to the right top corner would prevail – he was convinced it would be a Cohen left footer – I was right, and was suitably smug about it – a delightful finish from Earnie.

And it was only a mere two minutes before we’d doubled the lead – Anderson burst through from the half way line on the left cutting in, and played a cracking pass across to Earnshaw putting him clear down the right channel.  He made no mistake from around 12 yards slotting the ball firmly past Ikeme into the net with ease.  The QPR ‘keeper had a chance to make a first save shortly after when Raddy unleashed a powerful drive from range.

Lee Camp had his first activity of the game after this – Taarabt had a tame effort from the edge of the box which he was able to catch with ease.  Then it was business as usual – Earnie was found in the box and was unceremoniously bundled over by Gorkss with the referee not hesitating to award the spotkick.  Both Dex and Earnie went for the ball – but Earnie’s wasteful previous use of penalty kicks meant that the former-QPR man ended up taking it.

No problem for him either – sending Ikeme the wrong way as he put the ball powerfully into the bottom-left corner before celebrating infront of the Trend End.  So just after half an hour gone, three-nil up – to be frank, it was understandable that the pace would drop.  Forest kept the ball, and QPR didn’t really try too hard to get it back.  We joked in the stands that it wasn’t the same coming to Forest without anything to moan about, it’s remarkable the transformation in such a short space of time.

So, second half – QPR came out promptly and it seemed to take ages for Forest to arrive on the pitch.  Despite either this mistiming or mindgames, the visitors started the half reasonably positively – they picked up a freekick in a similar position to that which Earnie had scored from in the first half, Taarabt took it square to Quashie whose shot was decent and on target, but not particularly challenging for Camp who dived to his left and saved.

There was a sucker-punch though – Forest started to build possession and get forward again, Perch found Cohen who seemed surprised to find himself unmarked.  His shot from 25 yards looked like the keeper should save it from my seat, he got a hand or two on it – but it was powerful enough to still find the back of the net to give Forest a four goal cushion.  Similar to the Leicester game earlier in the season, with the visitors down-and-out they actually started to knock the ball around quite well.

Their best opportunity came shortly after this – some neat passing ended up with a cross coming in from the left, Camp was only able to punch away not particularly convincingly – and eventually Connolly had an effort on goal that the Reds ‘keeper was only able to Parry to Buzsaki – who blazed into the Trent End with – whilst not exactly an open goal – a chance that he really should have at least got on target.  Taarabt had another shot shortly after, with Camp saving at the expense of a corner.

The fifth goal perhaps should have come from Forest’s next break – Earnie pushed the ball into the left channel for Anderson to run on to, but the winger didn’t make use of the time and space he had and seemed to get caught in two minds, ending up dragging a cross/shot wide of the goal but not quite close enough to the onrushing strikers – with Earnie grinning but looking frustrated at being denied a chance of a hattrick.

Immediately after this Majewski threaded a nice ball through to the oft-overlapping Perchy,who’d made a good run into the box but his shot/pass was blocked for a corner.  From this corner Dex got a header on it which was going wide near the back stick, where Earnie was lurking and his header looped – but just over.  At this point I suspect he might’ve been resigned to not picking up that elusive third goal!

Anderson was withdrawn for Tyson at this point to great applause, and almost immediately after Wes was withdrawn to a great ovation – replaced by Chambers.  Worryingly Wes seemed to be limping slightly, but hopefully it was a precautionary withdrawal.  The changes didn’t seem to change Forest’s intent – Dex sent Tyson into the box, with Quashie in close attendance – indeed, Tys should perhaps have not been so honest, as the former Reds midfielder was all over him.  He did get a cross in, but it was cleared.

The fifth goal came with more ‘Keystone Cop’ defending from the visitors – the Reds had three attempts to get this in – after Perch did well to burst into the box and play it across the six yard box, Cohen had the first effort which was cleared off the line, it fell for Earnie who miskicked horribly before Perchy was in the right place to hit it goalward with his left peg – it was deflected, and provided us with the goal!

Dexter was attempted to be subbed straight after the goal, but the ref lost patience and we had to wait ’til the second half was underway for the change – with Dele coming on, and the referee escorting the grumpy-looking Dex off the pitch (as he had with Anderson) as presumably he was concerned they were taking a little while.  He was quick to hurry along the goal celebrations too – I don’t think QPR were too bothered about any additional time, in all honesty!

The Reds continued to keep an easy level of pressure on the visitors – Tys did well to beat Ramage for pace and put in a cross towards Adebola but the chance was cleared.  The game ended with QPR on the attack, but Cohen was on hand to clear to ensure the clean sheet was kept intact.  One more goal and we’d have (probably temporarily) supplanted Newcastle at the top of the league – we find ourselves level on points with the Geordies but they have two games in hand, starting tomorrow night with in-administration Crystal Palace.

More gratifyingly we are now five points ahead of West Bromwich Albion in third – with the Baggies just having one game in hand.  If you look down to seventh then the gap is thirteen points.  All the teams in the promotion mix have at least one game in hand over us though – with the exception of Swansea.  Our goal difference is now joint second best in the league – just one behind Newcastle.  On fifty-two points, we are all but safe from relegation (that said, Leicester were relegated the season before last with that many – so we’ll have to win on Saturday to ensure safety!).

All in all, what can you say, except for BRING ON THE DERBY!

Forest vs. Queens Park Rangers preview..

Whilst all talk around the ‘net seems to fall into a few camps – the signing of players (in particular Victor Moses), whether or not we’ll loan out some players,  lots of former Reds people proclaiming our credentials for promotion favourably,  the small matter of playing Derby next saturday,  whether you have been lucky enough to have acquired a ticket for that match through the ballot process, the inherent unfairness of the away membership scheme…

However, all I’m thinking about right now is how to occupy myself on Saturday whilst we have no game – and our impending fixture with newly managerless (now, there’s a shock!) Queens Park Rangers.  Currently with former Reds caretaker manager Mick Harford at the helm (although it’s only Friday night – by Tuesday they could’ve had about three more managers!), having dispensed with Paul Hart’s services in less than a month.

As well as hitting the headlines for Paul Hart falling out with Tarrabt and signing former-Forest disappointment Nigel Quashie, another QPR-themed morsel doing the rounds at the moment is a rather excellent and passionate rant by one of their supporters on a message board – alas, I haven’t been sent the original board it appeared, but here it is posted on the Forest-based LTLF message board.  I can empathise with a lot of that!

Anyway, if you look up inconsistent or unpredictable in the dictionary then there will probably be a team picture of QPR next to the definition.  And with so much off-field turbulence it’s hardly surprising they’ve had a mixed time of it on the pitch.  They’ve won only one game in their last eleven, that coming at Loftus Road against Bristol City.  For a win away from home it was twelve games ago at Sheffield Wednesday.

Former Hoops Lee Camp and Dexter Blackstock will be keen to impress against the club that bizarrely loaned them to us before selling in the summer, and with no fresh injury concerns and a bit of time since our last outing Billy will have the lads revved up for this.  I hope!  QPR will of course have Quashie available, and possible returns from injury for Lee Cook and Rowan Vine.

There are very few teams, indeed, probably not any that form would suggest we couldn’t deal with – but I can’t quite let myself succumb to complacency.  Hopefully it’s the same for lads.  My memory of Mick Harford’s days in charge here was not a man who I would consider tactically astute – but certainly passionate.  Whether the rollercoaster of QPR has disrupted Billy’s careful preparations remains to be seen.

I had been looking forward to giving Harty a round of applause, although I’m not adverse to doing so for Harford either.  Certainly I wouldn’t have wanted him in permanent charge but he stepped into the breach for us and did his best.  With fans minds on Derby already we need to hope the players have a bit more mental discipline – because if they’re slack against QPR they might not get a game at Pride Park.

Reds reject derisory Newcastle bid for Perchy

Perchy: Not for sale

Rumours broke yesterday that Newcastle had made an offer for the versatile James Perch. Today Forest confirmed that was indeed the case, that the offer was derisory and had been rejected – and that James Perch is not for sale, particularly not to a promotion rival.

In his unique and highly repetitive style, Billy pointed out:

They have made an offer for James, but it is a derisory offer and the bottom like is that he is not for sale anyway.  We are not interested in selling James at any price, particularly not to one of our rivals in the Championship.  As I said, the offer was derisory, but it doesn’t matter because he is not somebody we want to sell.

We do not want to sell any of our players.  We want to strengthen our squad, not weaken it.  James has not featured very much this season, but that is purely because he has been injured and, during the time he has been out, I have said all along that we have missed him.  He is a vital member of this squad.  I guess we have got a few people worried.

This is good news for me – Perchy is oft maligned by Forest fans but I’ve always appreciated his workrate and tenacity.  His ability to put a tackle in is second to none in our team, in my opinion, and with some work on his passing and decision-making he could continue to develop into a better player.

It is also reassuring that the current league leaders are bidding for a player who – even if fit – would be far from guaranteed a starting place in our team given the myriad of options we have open to us.  Given Billy’s proclavity to play Gunter over at left back and Perch at right back when required, that might be needed sooner rather than later.

Still to your guns Forest, and don’t sell to Newcastle.

Better ‘Late’ than never..

The BBC’s new regional coverage of the Football League is, in my opinion, the very format The Football League Show at weekends should be.  Less of the aimless wandering around a late night office, and very much like the Match of the Day 2 format.  I think the industry call it more of a ‘magazine’ show – whatever that means.  The presenter, Manish Bhasin, talks more about it in The Evening Post here, and comes across very well I thought – it must grate having to smile as you describe your team being annihilated 5-1 by a hated rival!

Either way, it means that Manish Bhasin – who despite his Leicester-affiliations is a decent presenter – gets to sit down on a settee with panelists who vary.  Whilst Steve Claridge is very knowledgable, there isn’t much charisma there – a bit of variety would be nice.  Even the cartoon villain Robbie Savage being present wasn’t too much of a problem, a sly ‘Notts Forest’ was more than made up for by Bhasin forcing him into admitting Forest were ‘fantastic’ and surely ‘deserved favourites for promotion’.  That must’ve been horrible.

It does rather make you question the conflict of interests in a current player punditing, but then Billy Davies was a guest of Sky for Newcastle’s game against West Brom – and came across very well I thought.  The game worked out well too, personally I didn’t think any result on the night would be without advantages for us – but perhaps both sides dropping points is preferable from our position in between them.  West Brom can recapture second with a win over Blackpool in their game in hand, but only on goal difference.

Back to ‘Late Kick Off’ – it worked well for me, features and interviews – even though Forest weren’t featured – were interesting, and it was great to see how many mentions we got spontaneously despite not being a featured team!  The proof of the pudding will be in next weeks show – I saw the dreaded email address and text number advertised, please don’t ruin what promises to be excellent regional football coverage with a godawful “and now, over to Lizzie with your emails and texts!” feature.

Those of you who missed it, or are in the UK but not the midlands, you can catch up with BBC’s iPlayer.  For those ex-Pats or Reds from far and wide out there, I’m afraid you’ll need to have a scout about for torrents or similar.

Camp saves Forest from paying a harsh penalty..

Camp makes all the headlines with an outstanding performance..

Nottingham Forest – 2
Reading – 1

Contrasting halves for the Reds today saw them play some of their best stuff this season in the opening half – only to meet a much more organised and hard-working Reading side in the second.  It comes to something when you come away from a win pondering what went wrong – but after hearing the post-match interviews that’s what Billy has the boys doing!

I was reasonably pleased with things leaving the ground – although it did take two exceptional saves from Lee Camp in open play, and of course a penalty save, in the second half to prevent Reading from breaching our goal earlier.  The eventual goal was soft – and foretold by the moves which had brought the earlier saves from the Reds ‘keeper – so I can understand why he was visibly frustrated to have missed out on a clean sheet.

Billy reshuffled the deck to a more familiar starting line-up compared to the cup diversion in midweek – with a 4-4-2 formation comprising:

Gunter   Morgan   Wilson   Shorey
Cohen   McKenna   Majewski   Anderson
Earnshaw    Blackstock

The Reds made their intentions clear from the start – Cohen flicked the ball through to send Earnie clear through on goal but the linesman flag eventually raised.  Intricate passing from the Reds saw Raddy find Gunter who put in a tantalising cross which the Reading back line were able to clear.  Shortly after there were claims for a handball which I wasn’t really best placed to see, but would have given the Reds a penalty.

And then came the goal – and it was another good’un.  The ball came in to Earnie around the half way line and he flicked it excellently to the onrushing Cohen, who found himself clear of the defence but with Royals defenders closing in behind him.  Anderson meanwhile had cleverly checked his run to stay onside and Cohen opted to find him rather than take on the shot – the winger made no mistake with a cool finish to give the Reds the lead.

The visitors did have some possession but the Reds looked incredibly comfortable in dealing with their impotent attacks.  As soon as the ball was reacquired from the wasteful Reading attack, the Reds countered quickly – one instance saw Raddy brought down cynically on the edge of the box.  The freekick was well-taken and looked perfect for Dex to head in at the near post – until Ingimarsson did well to clear for a corner.

Another near-miss for Dex – this time he did connect, but headed wide after excellent work from Anderson, chesting down the ball on the run, beating his man and whipping in a brilliant cross to the Forest striker.  The next assault on the Reading goal required a decent save from Federici – Cohen played a fantastic ball to the far side of the box where Earnie unleashed a powerful volley.  Sadly straight at the Reading ‘keeper.

The second goal came after some frankly amazing interplay between Earnie and Raddy, Raddy eventually slipping the striker free in the box – finally avoiding the flag-happy linesman and slotting the ball neatly into the goal to give the Reds a deserved two goal cushion.  Moments later it really should have been three – Cohen released Dex who opted to shoot wide when he could have set up Earnie with an open goal.

So, half time – and it had all looked all too easy.  Our visitors looked very much like a side jaded from midweek extra-time heroics at Anfield.  I cautiously predicted at the time we’d pick up where we’d left off, but it’s fair to say I was somewhat wide of the mark with misplaced confidence – perhaps that might also explain the Reds’ lacklustre start to the second half.

Reading took a while longer than the Reds to come out of the dressing room – and it as immediately apparent that they’d been drilled to stop Forest playing but working hard to close down much more quickly.  I doubted their resolve to keep this up for the whole of the half, but they did put in a hard-working shift in the second half – albeit with mostly limited end-product in the opening exchanges.

Thorvaldsson was starting to look a bit more ominous – and Lee Camp was called into his first meaningful action of the half.  The Reds were lethargic in getting out Reading’s left allowing the Royals to get a cross in to the Icelandic striker whose effort looked every inch a nailed on goal as Camp had rushed to close the angle and he’d cleverly headed it back across him – Camp somehow contorted his leg to make the save.

Moments later what seemed like a carbon-copy chance – a cross from Reading’s left found Thorvaldsson unmarked again – but once again Camp wasn’t in the mood to be breached as he pulled off an outstanding diving save to get a strong hand to the ball and get it to safety.  In a brief counter-attack Dex did well to hold up the ball and find Majewski whose shot was well-struck but straight at Federici.

Billy spoke of the penalty being outside the area – it looked just in to me, and Nicky Shorey was left with little option having been caught on the wrong side of Kebe.  I wasn’t surprised to see the red card the Reading fans were baying for (although they did give Shorey a nice round of applause before the game, it has to be said!).  Having just pulled off two cracking saves I did actually dare believe Camp might save it.

Save it he did – Brian Howard struck the penalty firmly, but not particularly near the corner leaving Camp to make a solid save diving to his right and getting two hands on the ball and almost – if not actually – putting it out for a throw-in.  The spontaneous applause that rippled around the home sections after the cheering died down was spine-tingling, and Camp lapped it up, geeing up the home support with great response.  Great to see!

Billy predictably shuffled the side – bringing on Perch for Earnie and pushing Gunter across to leftback with Perch filling in the right fullback vacancy.  Even with ten men, Forest started to look more comfortable as Reading clearly dropped their heads for a spell following Lee Camp’s “Mr Invincible” impression.  Chambers was introduced later with Perch moving into midfield to cover the departed Majewski and Chambers slotting in at rightback.

Minutes later the run-into-the-ground Dexter Blackstock was withdrawn to be replaced by Nathan Tyson.  The less-than-impressive Andy Griffin was pressured by Anderson moments later but Tyson’s shot from distance went wide.  Reading woke up again and started to pressure the Reds – Wes needed to be on hand to clear a freekick for a corner.

It wasn’t until stoppage time that Reading finally managed to score – although you wouldn’t know it from the complete lack of reaction from their players or fans!  Howard was given far too much time on the edge of the area to cross the ball in where he found Kebe who had far little challenge on him to prevent him breaching Lee Camp’s goal.  Camp was visibly dejected despite being announced as man of the match prior to this – some achievement given he only had anything to do in the second half!

Lee Camp was – and indeed, is – in exceptional form and deserves many of the plaudits coming his way (although if anyone chants ‘England’s number one’ without a tongue firmly lodged in cheek then I think that’s taking it a bit far.  Personally I thought that Cohen deserves special mention – dangerous and creative in the first half, he was invaluable with his workrate when we were down to ten and under pressure in the first half.

And post-match what struck me was that Anderson and Camp (didn’t get to hear Billy) were actually dissatisfied with the game – that’s brilliant.  This is a good result – but the Reds are looking for improvements, Camp’s comments about pride in their work and cutting out mistakes are absolute music to my ears.  To hear Anderson state in no uncertain terms that “It’s not a good reflection when the keeper gets man of the match” is absolutely great to hear.

I’m by no means unhappy with this afternoon’s work by the Reds – but the fact they are never satisfied and seeking to get even better is fantastic to hear.  It’s true that we should have notched more goals before half time – but since we didn’t, we really should have done better in the second half.  Three more points, and now it’s all eyes on West Brom and Newcastle on Monday!

Also massive congratulations to Non-league Nigel for masterminding a win over Peterborough – it was amusing to hear of the comments on Radio Nottingham during the game.  At 1-0 they said “I imagine they’ll be getting the open-top bus ready!”, at 2-0 they postulated that they would be issuing commemorative mugs to mark the achievement. (This all in reference to the Rams’ bizarre decision to release a DVD of Derby’s struggle to beat Millwall on DVD).  Keep up the good work fellas!

Newly managerless QPR are up next at The City Ground a week on Tuesday – ten games without football means we’ll have to make do with a week-and-a-bit of ceaseless transfer speculation.  With Shorey now suspended for the QPR game regardless, it does start to raise questions over Forest’s plans to deal with the left-back situation.  I’m sure the gossip and rumours will be spewing forth even as I type!

For those of you worrying about Chris Cohen lingering at full time to applaud the fans (given the recent transfer speculation) – fear not, he does that every week!  Two and two, in this case, makes four – and not £5m to Bolton!  Finally, those of you who use Facebook might like to become a fan of the blog.  I’ve been posting occasional things on there and you’re of course welcome to join in!  My final thought is that I’m really glad Matt Mills opted for Reading over Forest, as he wasn’t very good!

Cohen nowhere? Hopefully.

Cohen celebrates capping off a great move for Forest against West Brom

I’ve resisted the urge to regurgitate the rumours doing the rounds at the moment – rumours which are, actually, pretty quiet.  Certainly on the incoming front anyway – but there was a big fat one in the outgoing direction that has been rumbling on sites like ‘Football Rumours’ for a while.  Today it was picked up by the press along with a price tag.

Premier League strugglers Bolton Wanderers are apparently in the market for our very own Chris Cohen who – if you listen to media sources – is rated with a £5m price tag.  Now I like Cohen, a lot – indeed, even for that I’d be very sad to lose him as he’s a young lad with tremendous talent and even more potential – but that price tag seems rather high to me!

Having said that, whilst a bid of that kind of size would undoubtedly prove a lure to the powers-that-be at Forest – it would risk our momentum, Cohen is a key squad member.  No player we have has his engine and workrate, and his versatility has been a godsend.  From the point of view of Cohen too, it hardly represents ‘big move’ – if you lay all the leagues together there are only three places between us and Bolton!

So I would hope that Forest will be rebuking any offers coming from Lancashire.  Chris Cohen’s reaction to his goal against West Brom speaks volumes for the kind of passion the lad has for Forest and his teammates.  Long may it continue!  Let’s have some incoming rumours, please – rumour mills – ones more likely than us going up against Serie A teams and Manchester City for the signature of Victor Moses!

Forest vs. Reading preview..

Saturday’s opponents will still be on a high come the weekend after their dramatic last-gap win at Anfield this evening.  A last minute penalty for the Royals took the tie to extra time, in which a Shane Long header – his first goal of the season – was enough to see the Championship side deservedly ease past Liverpool to claim a fourth round tie with Burnley.  Massive congratulations are due to them!

Of course, this is nothing compared to the monumental achievement that happened a bit closer to home whilst Forest were playing at St. Andrews.  Such drama, and such excitement occurred at Pride Park that our wooly neighbours are able to avail themselves of a DVD of their spectacular and unexpected triumph via penalty shootout over… Millwall!  It will come in handy for the 23,000 or so Derby fans who didn’t make it to the game.

So, anyway, back on topic.  Tonight’s was Reading’s first win under their caretaker boss – he’s been rather a 1-1 specialist over 90 minutes, Reading rarely fail to score, but even more so fail to concede.  It’s been a tough season so far for the Royals – they find themselves just above the relegation zone, below Derby even.  They’ve only won five games – tellingly, four of them away from the Madejski Stadium.

I expect familiar faces to be restored by Forest – McKenna, Wilson, Shorey, McKenna and Blackstock should almost certainly be back – and Billy also has the options of restoring Majewski, Anderson and possibly Earnie who is back in training according to his Twitter feed.  Whether Billy opts for the 4-5-1 or 4-4-2 approach will probably hinge on Earnie’s fitness, and of course what he thinks will work best to unlock Reading.

The Royals have demonstrated tonight they have a sting in their tail – McAnuff was certainly the standout player for them, and could have capped off the evening with one of the best goals of the FA Cup for some time.  The midfielder picked up the ball in his own half and jinked into the box past numerous Liverpool defenders and just placing his shot wide.

So an intriguing encounter.  Personally I think Billy’s approach for the cup game was right – and despite succumbing to defeat at Birmingham I don’t think confidence will be dented as the less frequent players put in a more than credible performance and were unfortunate to lose.  We still have a hefty unbeaten league run to defend – and I’m sure Billy will have the boys well drilled.

We of course also have had additional recovery time – key players have had over a week, even those who featured at Birmingham have had an extra day – and no additional drain of extra time.  So can our fresh-legged Reds overcome the slightly more tired visitors after their Lord Mayor’s show?  It doesn’t always work like that, but I wasn’t sorry to see their game go to extra time!

Perhaps what they do lack is pace up front – whilst Rasiak has a decent enough record against us, our defence has looked solid against aerial assaults, so it’s through their tricky midfielders and wingers that Reading will be more likely to do us damage.  It promises to be a tough game, I think, but on our day we can beat anybody – certainly I honestly think Reading will think us a more daunting opponent than a second-half Liverpool sans Torres and Gerrard.