We’re Nottingham Forest, we’re beaten away…(again!)

Billy Sharp - matchwinner and perennial pain-in-the-arse against Forest!

Doncaster Rovers – 1
Nottingham Forest – 0

A frustrating afternoon for the Reds – but whatever irritations I got from the on-the-pitch antics pale into insignificance compared to the reaction of some of our so-called supporters.  Some of them are like petulant and spoilt children, and it’s been like that since Derby away – I wonder if they are the people who bought away membership and have just started attending Forest away games after buying into the hype?

I say that because if they’d been to Middlesbrough, or Cardiff, or Watford or numerous other trips they’d have seen similar levels of performance with perhaps that slice of luck needed to turn a defeat into a draw.  If they’d been to Swansea they’d have seen us grab a win.  Sure, it’s disappointing to lose, it was a disappointing performance – but to boo the manager’s decision to make a substitution, even if you disagree, is scandalous.

After that the comments from some folks surrounding me astounded me.  I won’t repeat them here, but some even suggested he was deliberately picking ineffective tactics or personnel out of spite.  What the fuck? I hope that Billy realises this noisy minority are just that – a minority, and the most of us are not so short-sighted to forget we’re third in the league and showing massive improvement from last season.  We’re still with you, Billy – so please don’t let these idiots drag you down.

That’s not to say people aren’t entitled to opinions, or that people aren’t entitled to criticise the manager – hell, that’s what a good per cent of this blog is – but when we’re at the game, we should be backing the lads.  Like we did when we were 1-0 down at Boro and Cardiff, not throwing in the towel and starting to moan and groan when things go slightly wrong on the pitch.  I can’t begin to tell you how angry this has made me, but anyway, the match.

Billy shuffled the deck, in my opinion too much – Lewis McGugan (who many fans have been calling for to appear) got his chance, Adebola was up front alone with Tyson on the wing – with Dex, Earnie and Anderson apparently in need of resting.  The line-up looked something like this, although of course make allowances for our lack of clarity on who actually plays on the wing!

Gunter    Morgan    Wilson    Perch
Cohen    McKenna    McGugan    Majewski    Tyson

I must admit, like many in the stand, it didn’t exactly make me think “Wow! We’re going for this!”, but equally I couldn’t help but consider the options we had to bring from the bench to perhaps go for a suckerpunch in the second half.  Donny started positively, playing decisive quick-paced passing football with lots of movement that they’re known for – and it was them who had the earliest chance when Billy Sharp drew a save from Camp from the edge of the area.

Sharp again was looking dangerous when he spotted Camp rather in no-man’s land and attempted the lob, which beat the keeper but also bounced fairly harmlessly wide.  Shortly after this we had what looked like a penalty turned away – difficult to be sure from the away end but Gunter looked to have been bundled over in the box, but the referee – who proved to be even more of a ‘homer’ than Amy Fearn – was having none of it.

It wasn’t exactly against the run of play that the hosts took the lead – James Chambers played in the cross, Camp went for it, and in the ensuing confusion Sharp was the fella who planted his head on it to score.  At the time I thought it might’ve been an own goal, it was difficult to see what happened.  Another one of those “the defence switched off” kinda moments that have been a blight on our last few away days.

The Reds almost came back with the perfect answer – probably our only truly incisive move of the game when Chris Cohen played Tyson clear, who one-on-one with Sullivan wasn’t ale to beat the big ‘keeper.  The rebound fell awkwardly to Majewski who wasn’t able to direct his effort goalwards.  The rest of the half was mostly scrapped in midfield – with Doncaster getting the upper hand in the scrapping as well as the passing through until half time.

Half time was greeted with a chorus of boos which I hope was directed at another bloody awful referee (not to mention the plain-flagged linesman) – but given what was to come you can never be too sure from some of the idiots in the away end.  It certainly wasn’t all doom-and-gloom and whilst we’d been fairly unpenetrative, we were still in this.  Or so I thought!

Donny started the second half positively too – Gunts had to be on hand to make a decent interception early doors.  It wasn’t long before Billy decided to shuffle the deck further – which much of the chunterers had been chuntering for for a while.  The first change was to bring on McCleary (bloke behind me before the game “What happened to McCleary? He can change a game“, after he came on and lost the ball once “He’s rubbish, not good enough for this level“).  Lewis hadn’t had a particularly good game.

The second substitution followed soon after and when Majewski was revealed as the player to come off there were audible boos from the away end as he made his way off to be replaced by McGoldrick.  Billy clearly took exception to this (understandably) and could be seen remonstrating towards the away fans, much as many of the away fans such as myself were remonstrating with neighbouring ‘supporters’.

McCleary perhaps should’ve kept his head after some good work with the ball found him at the edge of the box, a shot probably wasn’t unreasonable but Cohen was in space as was Gunter, and McCleary’s shot went wide.  Dele too, who to me just isn’t a lone striker, should’ve hit the target from eight yards after Wils lofted it forward towards him.  At the other end Wilson lost the ball and fortunately Coppinger and Sharp conspired to waste the chance.

The final substitution was greeted with cheers when Dexter was brought on for the largely ineffective Tyson.  Shortly after this Cohen (man of the match for us, and boy do we need to keep him in midfield) created a great opportunity – McGoldrick got a cracking strike on it, unfortunately Dexter was in the way to make the block for Donny.  McGoldrick could’ve perhaps played the striker in.

A final nail in the coffin came when McClearly’s first touch looked set to lose the ball, he dived in after it and won it back.  Unfortunately he dived in with two feet raised and the rules of the game do make that a red card offence – which this referee was never going to miss out on dishing out.  I can’t complain really, it was a rush of blood moment and unfortunate for the young lad – but rules is rules, no matter how stupid.

Shortly after this Sullivan dived on the floor and feigned being fouled when Dex was near him which was disappointing to see – Donny are a good positive side, so to see players cheating to try to get players booked or worse is very disappointing.  The referee didn’t fall for it, but of course didn’t see fit to do anything about Sullivan’s antics either – last time I checked such things were good for a booking!

Five minutes of stoppage time yielded very little for the Reds – indeed, in was the home side who had the only real chance through the ever-dangerous Billy Sharp which struck Wes and went for a corner.  Full time and again the boos from some fans, and a fair few like me belligerently clapping the lads off the pitch.  Sure, they’d not been great – but that’s football.

Hopefully now these bloody negative moaning bastards have realised the hype surrounding Forest was maybe a little exaggerated.  We’ve not annihilated that many teams, and except for in short spells haven’t been for the most part the one-touch football people have talked about.  This is reality, football can be scrappy – we’ve profited from luck in these games earlier in the seasn and now we’re not.

Three games on the bounce away from home ending in defeat (four if we count the cup) is worrying, of course it is, but some perspective is needed.  We’re third in the league, we’re still within contention to nick an automatic promotion spot – we already have enough points to avoid relegation.  This time last season I’d have been laughed out of Nottingham for predicting that for this season.

Billy’s done a great job in a short space of time – it’s clear we need to develop our squad further to be anything like a complete package, so how about we enjoy the ride and give the team our backing.  This bad run of results started at Derby, and that was the game when the negativity became palpable in the stands to me – was it because of all those fans exploiting the away membership loophole?  Did they expect champagne football every week?

Who knows, hopefully now they’ve not seen it in the last three away games they bugger off and leave room for fans who’ll join in some chants and get behind the team.  Don’t lose heart Billy, we’re still with you – unfortunately the idiots sometimes have the loudest voices.  Apologies for the rant, but it’s done me the world of good if nothing else and I finally feel like I can relax this evening!