West Bromwich Albion – 1
Nottingham Forest – 3
There’s that scene in the Matrix, when Neo first faces one of the agents and fights rather than runs. “What’s happening?” asks Trinity, Morpheus – oft derided for his faith in ‘the one’ simply answers “He’s starting to believe.”
That’s how I feel having watched the Reds spend 70 minutes demolishing West Brom. True, there was a slip that let them in, which perhaps offers us a reminder that inevitably things won’t all go our way – but my gosh, we are certainly the architects of our fortunes at the moment, and there were some magical moments for us to celebrate.
Predictably Billy went in ‘away mode’ – but his flexible five in the middle formation worked beautifully and devastatingly today, leaving the Baggies with no choice but to lump it long and kick out petulantly as the rampant Reds gave them no time or space to play. Magical stuff, even the Sky pundits veritably lavished us with praise. This, folks, is pinch-yourself territory.
The line up from the Reds was:
Gunter Morgan Wilson Shorey
Cohen Moussi McKenna Anderson
The bad news of Robbie Earnshaw limping off during the warm up saw his place on the bench go to James Perch, but still left us with a menacing looking bench of the aforementioned Perch, along with Smith, Chambers, McGugan, McGoldrick, Tyson and Adebola. Although even in the euphoria of a great result, obviously I’m still hoping Earnie’s twinge wasn’t serious.
To return to my self-indulgent Matrix twaddle for a moment, we all know a Morpheus – those fans who believe we are great even when we’re not (so we think), but slowly even the staunchest, most pessimistic and curmudgeonly Commander Lock type characters (such as me) find themselves at least considering the possibilities of believing.
So, the game – enough nonsense from my strange mind. The Baggies staff had done a great job on the pitch given the blizzard-like conditions the nation has suffered, although perhaps the pitch was tricky to play on as early exchanges saw both sides sloppy in possession. A number of times fairly simple passes for either side went astray.
It was a fairly pensive start from the home side with the Reds always alert to close down, forcing quick passes and often errors. They did attack first though, and it was characteristically Big Wes on hand to block the first bite at goal by Jerome Thomas. They had a couple of corners which didn’t pose any problems, and it wasn’t until almost 20 minutes when Forest started to meaningfully threaten.
Unclear even after replays whether Dex bought a corner as it could’ve easily glanced off him – but Raddy took the corner and found Dex half a yard ahead of debutant Tamas to strike the ball firmly just inside the post giving the Reds the lead. An element of fortune in getting the corner, for sure, but a great way to make the most of it!
West Brom did attack, and Camp had to be quick off his line to smother the ball before Luke Moore could get to it. Had he been able to keep a clean sheet today he’d have beaten a club record – unsurprisingly held by Shilton at the moment (and, of course, equalled by Lee Camp!). Raddy offered the Baggies plenty of warning of his intentions with a few attempts from around the edge of the area.
The home side were restricted – uncharacteristically for them – to lumping the ball forward which wasn’t proving much trouble for Wes and Kelv at the back, and the Reds continuous pressure on the ball up and down the pitch almost saw them profit from a fluffed Carson clearance – Raddy picking up the ball but unable to provide the killer blow on this instance.
Pundits and probably fans alike predicted West Brom to improve come the second half, but they didn’t really – they did force an early corner which Brunt kindly played directly into the arms of Lee Camp. It only took seven minutes for something fairly amazing to happen.
After a nice spell of build-up Gunter ended up with the ball from Moussi on the right hand side, he spotted the wave of Raddy unmarked on the back stick and set up a lovely cross for him. How many of us were expecting such a sweet left-footed volley right into the near top corner though? A tremendous goal leaving Carson absolutely no chance at all.
No doubt the video won’t last, so watch it while you can!
No sooner had I peeled myself from the ceiling (so so gutted I didn’t go now, but it’s post-Christmas and I’m trying to save cash 😦 ) it was three-nil – ten passes occurred before Chris Cohen stroked the ball into the bottom corner from the edge of the area, having been fed the ball by Guy Moussi via Chris Gunter. Mesmerising stuff from the Reds.
Moussi – a solid return to the side for him, after a shaky start (along with most of his teammates) – was replaced by Nathan Tyson soon after the goal, and it appeared that Forest shifted into a slightly more conventional 4-4-2 formation with Tys taking position upfront and Dex slightly deeper. However, as seems to be our way, we conceded.
Dorrans rode a Morgan challenge well down the left – see, you sometimes beat him! – and played a superb throughball-cum cross into the path of West Brom sub Bednar. The cumbersome striker with a penchant for drug deals looked to have taken a couple too many touches, but eventually put a shot past Camp that denied the ‘keeper his record-breaking run of clean sheets.
Still, more than ten hours without conceding is some going! This lifted West Brom and those of their fans who had decided to remain in the ground – Olsson had a decent headed effort which Camp saved at the expence of a corner – a corner which, predictably, Brunt hoofed directly into the arms of Lee Camp. Bless ya!
The Reds were perhaps understandably not closing down at the pace they had been earlier in the game, and the visibly knackered Dex was taken off for Dele Adebola, who was immediately all over the place – tackling back as well as trying to hold up the ball up front. Finally Raddy, who’d been booted all over the park by a surprisingly physical West Brom side, was withdrawn for James Perch.
As time ticked away West Brom started to panic again, and Forest regained control of the game. Whilst never busting a gut to get too far forward, there was a good shout for a penalty when Anderson was shoved over in the area, and Dele should’ve done better with a chance in the area which fell to his less-favoured right foot.
The best chance in the closing stages fell to the home side, Ishmael Miller – back from a lengthy injury layoff – did well to retain the ball wide right before cutting in and unleashing a powerful left-footed drive towards the top corner of the goal, which Camp reacted well to by diving and saving at the expense of a corner.
Six minutes of stoppage time for assorted injuries and handbags was played out without much undue pressure, as the home fans streamed out the ground leaving the 2,000+ Forest fans to celebrate with their side who now find themselves up to second in the Championship. Our highest position for some time, it has to be said!
A word for the referee today too, I thought he had a good game compared to many we’ve seen. He was very lenient with challenges from Mattock and McKenna, both of which I’ve seen players sent off for less. Also he let one of their lads get away with raising his hands to Kelvin (and of course, didn’t give us a penalty – but then, he did give us that corner!), but broadly he let the game flow pretty well.
All in all, a great result – I’m so proud of the lads and how they conducted themselves. They’ve sent a resonating message to the Championship once again, and certainly the pundits on Sky seem to have sat up and really taken notice (indeed, their coverage before the game suggested they already had noticed!). Long may it continue!
Filed under: Matches |