Bristol City – 1
Nottingham Forest – 1
Well would you look at that? I abstain from an away game for a change, and the Reds don’t lose. There’s providence for you! Unfortunately I am planning on heading to Blackpool and Scunthorpe though, so presumably defeats will be back on the cards for these games? By all accounts this wasn’t a thriller, and a pretty even game. From our point of view there’s also that great sense of relief at not losing a game away from the City Ground!
Predictably Billy opted to mix things up a little bit, purportedly due to injuries but I would think to (a) keep the squad fresh and (b) not risk any injury to key players with the playoffs in mind, which saw us line up win a slightly unfamiliar shape:
Chambers Morgan Wilson Gunter
Cohen Perch Moussi Boyd
After some fairly inclement weather (understatement!), the pitch was rather damp – although that had little to do with City’s opener which came just two minutes into the game. A somewhat speculative long ranger by Bradley Orr might well have been stopped by Lee Camp, but a wicked deflection off Liam Fontaine made it unreachable for the Reds ‘keeper, giving the home side the lead pretty much from the off!
Forest responded positively, a freekick from Cohen finding Boyd’s head – unfortunately despite having the beating of Gerken in the Bristol goal, he was also off target. The home side were quick on the break, a cracking run from Campbell-Ryce saw him find Skuse just outside the box. Fortunately for us he missed the target though with a decent effort just over.
As we’ve seen in recent weeks, we are capable of knocking the ball around well at times – but that final ball or shot tends to elude us – which is what happened after good work between Adebola and Cohen was snuffed out thanks to a last ditch challenge from Louis Carey. We weren’t to denied for long though, and it sounds like the equaliser was an absolute cracker – the kind of goal I imagined Guy Moussi scoring.
A 25 yard strike, giving the ‘keeper no chance, found the top corner – the Moose is on fire, indeed! Just as he struck the ball the sun came out too, is there no limit to his powers? If only he could learn how to control them all, huh? City could’ve taken the lead shortly after, with an acrobatic scissor kick from Fontaine which was equally acrobatically saved by Camp in the Reds goal.
The second half commenced with another early chance for the home side, a Campbell-Ryce cross found Elliott but it wasn’t a difficult stop for Camp, after a quick break Gerken had a similarly easy save to make from Gunter. After this Joe Garner got a rare chance of some pitch time, coming on for Dele Adebola – but it was Bristol to have the next chance, Haynes getting the better of Wilson but somehow missed the target from a tight angle with only Camp to beat.
Elliott was close too, from distance – trying to find the top corner but hitting it just wide. Which saw Billy change things again by bringing on Tyson for Boyd, with almost immediate impact – McGoldrick fed the ball through to him clear of the defence, but the substitute wasn’t quite able to steer the ball around Gerken who was quickly off his line to close down the danger.
The Reds continued to try to press forward, and Billy made his last substitution by withdrawing Perch for McCleary. It was the first sub who had the chance to win it for us though, a Chambers cross was powerfully met by Joe Garner with a downward header from around five yards out – Gerken did really well to make the save, although you have to think a striker should be scoring from there!
With just five minutes on the clock the hosts were forced to ten men after Gerken was injured after a collision with Tys, Tys was booked for it to the disgruntlement of the home fans who wanted Red. John McGovern thought it was a 50:50 ball – might need to wait ’til the Football League Show to clear that up! Either way, the home side put Mairerhofer – a 6’8″ striker on loan from Wolves – in goal for the remainder of the game.
By the time the game was back underway 90 minutes was up, and six minutes of stoppage time was added – the Reds characteristically couldn’t take advantage of the situation in which they found themselves, never really making use of their extra man nor testing the makeshift goalkeeper, and thus having to settle for a point – which we should be grateful for – it’s more than we got from our last seven away games!!
Personally I think that’s West Brom and Newcastle United as good as up – so early congratulations to them. Of course there’s always a part of a football fan that considers the ‘what ifs’ over the season, and if a few of those had been different we could’ve still been challenging. However, a probable playoff finish is still a huge achievement, so I’m not at all downhearted!
May you all have a Happy Easter and we shall resume action on Monday infront of the BBC cameras at the City Ground for the visit of Cardiff City, who hopefully get a bit of a kicking from their dearest rivals in today’s evening game!