Wes and Tys fire Billy’s boys into the record books..

Wes Morgan: You'll never beat him.

Nottingham Forest – 2
Crystal Palace – 0

That’s a new record equalled.  Twelve consecutive league wins at home matches our best ever run back in 1980 (last time stretched over two seasons – previously it was ten in a single season).  Massive well done to the Reds and Billy, this is a great achievement to be rightly proud of.

It looked to be an awkward game at first, a greasy surface making passes over-run – and determined opponents making life tricky (not to mention another one of those ‘confusing’ referees), but eventually Forest did spark into life and started to looking something approximating the footballing side we’ve missed for a few weeks now!

With Perch unavailable for covering the left back spot, Billy turned to trusty deputy Chambers – who slotted in at rightback with Gunter moving across to left back, a move which worked very well – albeit against a Crystal Palace side that – perhaps predictably – lacked real width (aside from the waistline of Alan Lee and Stern John).  So we looked like this:

Chambers    Morgan    Wilson    Gunter
Cohen    Moussi    Majewski    Anderson
Blackstock    Earnshaw

Perhaps accustomed to his own time at the City Ground, Hart’s side made us swap ends after winning the toss.  Incidently, it was great to hear Hart get such a good reception from the Forest fans both before the game, and during the second half too (something the man himself seemed to appreciate too).  I’ve got a lot of time for him, so it was pleasing to see my fellow Reds largely feel the same way.

It wasn’t a great start for him – the game was barely underway when he needed to substitute Danny Butterfield who was injured by, well, nothing so far as I could tell!  Scannel replaced him, and it was a pretty scrappy start – it wasn’t ’til eleven minutes in that Anderson had an effort from distance, which bounced awkwardly forcing Speroni into a save winning Forest a corner.

The Reds put on a reasonable amount of pressure on Palace, but they were tricky to break down so chances were at a premium, good work from Dex nearly found Earnie but the Palace keeper was on hand to claim the ball.  Shortly after Earnie tried his luck from further out, but his shot was pretty much straight at Speroni so it was a simple save in the end.

In a fairly open game Raddy was able to get on the ball more than we’ve seen lately, which is a welcome sight – the Polish midfielder was a constant menace and put in a lot of movement to make himself available all over the pitch.  However, as these things rarely are, it wasn’t all one-way traffic in the Reds favour.

A rasping freekick (given because Alan Lee fell over, a theme that was to recurr throughout the game) by Ambrose (Darren?!)  brought a good save from Camp at the expense of a corner.  They threatened from the corner too, danger-man Ambrose (who is a ‘goal machine’ according to the small but good-spirited band of travelling Eagles fans) was again on hand to strike towards the Forest goal.

Shouts for a penalty from a clear looking hand ball by Clint Hill were waved away by the referee, which seemed to spur the Reds on to pile more pressure on to the beleaguered Eagles.  Dex and Earnie played some nice stuff after a ball from Raddy, but Earnie’s control let him down at the crucial moment so wasn’t able to convert the opportunity to a shooting chance.

Just as half time beckoned forebodingly it was looking increasingly like we’d struggle to break down the Palace defence, but cometh the hour, so they say, cometh the man.  Wes had ambled forward earlier in the move, and when the ball came to Anderson he played it across to Wes on the edge of the D, and with cries of ‘shoooot!’ coming from the crowd, he did just that and unleashed a piledriver.

The celebrations were pretty epic, and with Wes you can always see what such moments mean to him – the team to a man almost piled on top of him in a heap infront of the Brian Clough stand.  And that was pretty much it for the first half, what an awesome way to go in to half time in very high spirits.  Well done Wes, well deserved after a great season so far!

So, on to the second half.  The Reds were very positive from the off – and hesitation from Speroni meant Derry needed to be on hand to prevent Earnie causing damage after a ball in from Dex.  Straight after a ball over the top towards Earnshaw was inexplicably and very obviously handled by last-man Matt Lawrence.  Uncharacteristically the referee did see it, and sent off the Palace defender.

With Palace sticking with the lumbering Lee and John combination up front they switched to a narrow three-man midfield with four at the back, giving Forest ample room to pressure with both Chambers and Gunter utilising the space down the flanks.  Having said that, they still had their chances – a dangerous freekick from Ambrose was headed goalward with Camp forced into a smart save.

Raddy was the first Reds player to be called off for a substitution – having had a decent outing – with McCleary replacing him.  Soon after Tys was introduced for Earnshaw, which proved to be a rather shrewd move by Billy, because with his first two touches he set himself up beautifully, then scored.

The Reds properly hit Palace on the break – Anderson made a terrific break down the left hand side, and fed Tys with the perfect pass into the box.  His first touch looked a little heavy, but it turns out it was perfect to take the ball past Speroni – with Tyson having the pace to get round the keeper and tuck the ball away with his second touch from a tight angle.  Lovely goal, well played both Tys and Ando!

Provider-of-both-goals Anderson was the last player to be withdrawn, replaced by David McGoldrick who had a couple of nice touches soon into the game.  McCleary should’ve probably tested Speroni more with a chance he ended up scuffing straight at the ‘keeper.  That miss, however, will probably be all but forgotten about in the dressing room as it pales into insignificance compared to what was to follow…

A great break down the left by Tyson saw him beat his man twice to tee up Cohen totally unmarked in the area, only for the midfielder to take his shot first time when – frankly – he could’ve stopped, lit a cigar, smoked it and then tapped it in.  As it is he rushed and blasted it into the Palace fans instead – bless him, he still had his head in his hands as the final whistle blew.  We still love you, Chris!

All in all, got to be happy with a cracking win – and it’s great to see the lads passing the ball around a bit more too and playing with confidence.  It’s true that whilst they worked hard, Palace weren’t the toughest opponents we’ve faced – but a nice solid win and good performance is the perfect preparation for a daunting trip to the North East on Monday.  Well done boys!