Nottingham Forest – 1
Swansea City – 0
Phew! Got a bit lucky there didn’t we? An evenly matched pair of sides met today in a game where chances were at a premium. The Reds probably did edge it on chances created, although what looked like a foul on Pratley in the box perhaps should’ve given the visitors the opportunity to take the lead from the spot, and there were questions over Dex being offside just before the corner we eventually scored from – which might not have been a corner too!
Controversy abounds, but lady-luck was smiling on Forest for a change with these decisions and a valuable three points elevates us back to second place thanks to Neil Warnock’s QPR beating West Brom. The Baggies of course still have a game in hand over us, but they’ll be feeling a bit of pressure to be winning it now – which can be no bad thing! The good news is tempered by the not insignificant news that Paul McKenna’s injury looks to be quite serious.
Billy went with a reasonably predictable line-up – after it transpired that Wilson and Earnshaw were unavailable through injury, and of course having Boyd available to play, I think most of us might have predicted something like this:
Gunter Morgan Chambers Cohen
Anderson Moussi McKenna Boyd
Upon getting into the ground the Forest groundstaff were part way through veritably drowning the pitch in water at both ends – although by the time the game was ready to start it had been absorbed so I guess it must’ve been rather dry and firm to say the least! We swapped ends and there was an excellently well observed minutes applause in honour of the recently deceased Keith Alexander – the Reds players donning black armbands in his memory.
Around half the ground thought Boyd had just made the perfect start to his Reds career with a cross-cum-shot that it looked to us had been turned in by Swansea ‘keeper Dorus De Vries. Those with a better vantage point would’ve seen it heading to the side-netting from the off, so it gave the Swansea fans an opportunity for an early chuckle at Forest fans’ expense – many of whom had half-started to celebrate a goal!
Indeed, it was an impressive start for the new lad – all eyes were on him and he was involved early doors, putting Dex through with a nice throughball with the striker chipping deftly over De Vries. Unfortunately for us Dex was offside and the flag was already up – so fortunately no repeat of the celebrations of moments before for the travelling fans to goad us about this time!
With around ten minutes on the clock a wave from McKenna to the bench saw him quickly withdrawn for Lewis McGugan, a real blow for us to lose the captain – although myself and seemingly a few others reckon he is in need of a rest, an enforced one through injury is never a good thing. Lewis certainly looked more interested than he did against Doncaster and knocked a nice ball over to Anderson who brought a decent save from De Vries.
The visitors had a solid spell from here. Chambers didn’t listen to Camp’s shout when a ball was heading for the ‘keeper which ended up with a Swansea player eventually able to foced a corner – and it did start to look rather worrying for us. A few corners which were mostly harmless (odd routine the Swansea players have, they all loiter in the D, and all make random runs before it’s taken, before heading back again – it didn’t really work!). Camp had a routine save from a Kuqi effort from just inside the area.
Then it was the Reds turn to press, a Moussi shot was deflected and Boyd got on the end of it with a powerful drive which – whilst not exactly a million miles away from him – was very well saved by De Vries who’d been wrong-footed and needed to stick a leg out to keeper it out. A Moussi ball into the box almost fell for Boyd and then Blackstock, but the best the Reds could get from it was a corner.
Probably the chance of the half followed this – McGugan played it out to Anderson on the right who beat his man with a delightful little lobbed ball, and put in a sublime cross to the back stick which found Cohen marauding forward – but completely spannered it into the Trent End when really he should have been hitting the target at the very least. Which pretty much brings us to half time.
A game that was going to form really – both sides have quite stingy defences, and play some nice football – but perhaps don’t convert that to goals often enough. I commented at the time to my seat-mates that I could see the game finishing without goals. It just seemed to be one of those kinda days, and even when we did fashion chances I rate De Vries as one of the best goalkeepers in the league.
The Reds were on the front-foot first in the second half (that’s a mouthful!). Gunter was doing well getting forward down the right, and he played a nice ball square into Majewski’s path but the Pole struck it over. A decent enough strike. Lewis too ended up in a muddle in the box after a great run where he just couldn’t get the ball under control and it ended up limply trickling back to De Vries.
At the other end Chambers – who was looking understandably rusty starting his first game in a while – made a bit of a cock-up keeping the ball in play only for Kuqi to be on hand to knock it across the goal where, fortunately, the Swansea man steaming in at the back stick couldn’t reach it. In true end-to-end style a Cohen ball in to Boyd saw the loan man get a shot off, but it was straight at De Vries who made a comfortable save.
Then the controversy came – Pratley got into the area under the attentions of Chambers, who I thought had a handful of his shirt, and Cohen coming across looked to have caught his shooting leg. The way the Forest-target hurled himself to the ground probably didn’t help him (and he’d dived earlier in the game too) and the referee waved away the protests from the Swansea players – lead by the ever-moaning Shefki Kuqi.
Forest tried to capitalise on their good fortune with Raddy getting away from Williams, but unable to get his chance past the excellent Tate. This was the midfielders last involvement in the game, he was subbed to a healthy round of applause for David McGoldrick who slotted into the same position in ‘the hole’. McCleary came on soon after for Anderson, who’d had a decent game but was starting to tire.
Just as the game seemed to be petering out into the 0-0 draw I was predicting at half time, we had another slice of fortune from the officials. Firstly, Dexter Blackstock appeared to be offside in the run up to us being given a corner – and I need to see the replay, but I’m not sure it was a corner. It was taken excellently by Lewis McGugan, De Vries came for it and missed it, and it fell perfectly for the unmarked Chambers on the back stick who stuck it away with his head.
The celebrations were fairly epic, it’s been a while since we snagged a last minute winner and there really is no better feeling. Swansea will feel perhaps justifiably aggreived at the officiating – however, we’ve been on the end of what seems like more than our fair share of those kinds of decisions too, so maybe it’s a case of swings and roundabouts. What matters is it’s a much needed three points, it’s a 10th consecutive home league win, it’s another assault on the automatic promotion places.
Fingers crossed that Paul McKenna – seen after the game in a knee brace and on crutches – isn’t as injured as first feared when the swelling goes down and the extent of the damage to his knee will be ascertainable by a scan. He’ll be a big miss that’s for sure, and I imagine will be more than likely unavailable for next weekend’s trip to his old club Preston which must be bitter-sweet for the captain.
Filed under: Matches |