Nottingham Forest – 2
Sheffield Wednesday – 1
Interesting game today, as another very direct team did a good job at stifling an under-par Reds side. A shocking refereeing performance (clearly the Wednesday fans on the way out thought so too – chanting ‘two-one to the referee’ outside after the game) probably was the most notable thing, as Forest ground out a result after succumbing to an increasingly inevitable equaliser from the Owls.
The first thing I noticed was the aggressive nature of the visitors compared to what I remember from them – mouthing off at the turnstiles before the game. Upon entering the ground a few were holding a flag in tribute to Corporate Liam Riley – a fallen hero from the Yorkshire regiment. It was good to hear Forest make a PA announcement about it at half time, a pity our PA system is so poor I imagine most of you wouldn’t have noticed. Rest in peace, Liam.
So, Billy decided to shuffle the deck – Raddy was out for Moussi because ‘his head isn’t right’ (more on that later), and Anderson was benched in exchange for Tyson in a four-four-two line-up:
Gunter Morgan Wilson Perch
Cohen Moussi McKenna Tyson
It was the visitors – roared on by over 4,000 travelling fans – who started the better, although the enhanced atmosphere compared to usual certainly stoked up the home fans too. Varney was first to strike goalwards after a couple of minutes, but Camp was on hand to make the save. A fair bit of pressure from the Owls followed without much by way of chances created, as Forest took a while to find their feet.
Inroads were made and a poor clearance ended up with Gunts whose header towards Dex was well anticipated by Grant who gathered on the edge of the box. Earnie had had a couple of snapshots from range – including one rather amusing effort which actually went out for a throw-in much to the amusement of the Yorkshire contingent (with good reason, in fairness!).
Eventually the chance came, Dex shot goalward and the hapless Darren Purse appeared to block it with his arm – we all shouted for it, as you do (which was funny, because the Wednesday fans had been shouting for a spurious handball earlier) and whilst he certainly looked to handle it from where I was sitting, we never get given those penalties do we? Well we did today!
Naturally the first worry was whether Earnie would grab it – but Dex was quicker off the mark and claimed it and spotted it whilst the Wednesday defenders continued to harrass the referee. Once he’d cleared the area the Reds striker struck it powerfully into the top of the net, sending Grant the wrong way and giving the Reds a big advantage in a game we’d barely contributed to at times.
This seemed to spark us into life – shortly after Tys had a snapshot from range which, whilst a well-struck effort, wasn’t good enough to beat a ‘keeper like Grant from that kind of distance! A lofted ball from Perch fell for Earnie, it was a nigh-on impossible ball to control but the wee fella as near as damn it got it goalward, looping just over the bar, although I expect Grant would have saved if needed.
The Owls attacked and won a corner which was gathered easily by Camp, and prior to another flurry of ineffective corners and freekicks from the Owls there was time for a Reds counter attack which was ended by a foul from Gray on Cohen on the edge of the area, this gave Gray a yellow card and Earnie a chance from the freekick which he struck well towards the near top corner – with Grant on hand to make a decent save.
On Twitter I described it as a ‘solid if unspectacular performance’ – which I think was about right. Wednesday were similar to Derby in their approach to the game (without the blatant thuggery) in that they played percentages – a lot of long balls into the box, and threatening use of long throw-ins – but aside from a few wobbles, the Reds were doing a reasonable job of containing them – but not really creating a deal themselves.
The visitors again came out of the blocks more quickly, a freekick from Potter on the edge of the box looked routine for Camp to catch until it clipped a Forest head in the wall, taking the ball over Camp and hit the crossbar. Nervy times. McKenna – our corner-taker today interestingly – played a decent cross in towards Tys who couldn’t get good contact on the ball.
Possession was difficult to maintain by either team – with both pressuring one another as well as making plentiful unforced errors to boot. Forest did look comfortable at the back, a bit too comfortable at times with hints of ‘Casual Kelvin’ starting to make appearances at the back. Sometimes I’m quite happy to see defenders just hoof it clear, ours seemed very reluctant to do that at times today!
I wouldn’t say that the equaliser felt inevitable because of the way the visitors were playing, but because Forest started that sitting-deeper thing which feels like it’s inviting the goal – it came after the ball bounced around the area and fell very favourably for Luke Varney who struck it powerfully into the net giving Camp no chance, much to the frustration of us.
As for the celebrations – it was an epic from the Wednesday fans, considering it was simply an equalising goal (and indeed, they’d been all but silent since we’d scored!) – a real sign of what it means to a side to get a goal against us these days, as their fans rushed right to the advertising boards and made an almighty racket. It seemed quite the over-reaction to me, but fair play, it was impressive.
It only lasted around seven minutes though – given our lack of creativity today I was concerned we would have to settle for a draw – but I was wrong! A freekick on the right was played in by Cohen and Dex was on the end of it to head it goalward, the initial effort was saved by Grant but fortunately he could only palm it into the path of the striker to give him a second chance to convert from around six yards to give the Reds the lead again.
The visitors were back on the attack, a corner caused bedlam in the box with Camp prone on the deck having only punched the ball and – frankly – usually you’d expect to see the ref blow for the foul. Fortunately Forest cleared. The referee and linesman on the Main Stand side, meanwhile, couldn’t even work out the most obvious of decisions like whose throw-in it was.
Mr Kettle gave five minutes of added time, and played more like 6 or 7 as Forest repelled increasingly hopeful aerial bombardments from the Owls before finally blowing full time. This wasn’t a classic by any means, but it was important we got back to winning ways as quickly as possible – so well played lads, a hard-fought and scrappy win, but a very welcome one. I was going to go on to talk about Billy’s intriguing post-match interview, I’ll do so separately as I’m already on 1,200 odd words!
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