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
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!
Filed under: Matches |