A comfortable win confirms a play-off finish..

A fan's tribute to an absent friend.

Nottingham Forest – 3
Ipswich Town – 0

What started as a fairly evenly matched encounter turned into a comfortable win for the Reds, which with Newcastle beating Blackpool sees us guaranteed a spot in the play-offs.  So with three games to go, everyone at Forest are to be hugely congratulated, and what a perfect way for the team to offer a tribute to recently deceased fan Blaine Thomas.

Elsewhere a narrow win for West Bromwich Albion at Doncaster delivers automatic promotion to the Baggies, and congratulations to them – they rode whatever pressure we could put on them and held on to that second spot.  Leicester did themselves a favour with a win to bolster their squeaky-bum time in the play-off zone, although Swansea – with another defeat – will be looking over their shoulders at Blackpool and Middlesbrough.

Paul Anderson was passed fit to face Ipswich, and was restored to the starting line-up in place of Raddy, with Cohen moving into the middle for a slightly different look, but ultimately a fairly familiar ‘home’ line up that looked like this:

Chambers    Morgan    Wilson    Gunter
Tyson    Cohen    Moussi    Anderson
Blackstock    Earnshaw

The Reds started positively too, mercifully I’d remembered my sunglasses as it was a lovely day – good work from Tyson and Chambers down the right culminated in a shot by the defender from range, which was jus wide.  In an open game Ipswich had chances to get forward too – Murphy breaking strongly and getting the better of Kelv and forcing Camp into a save.

However, it was the Reds making most of the early running – a break ended in a shot from Anderson which was blocked by Delaney at the expense of a corner, which started a sequence of four or so corners for the Reds which were largely comfortably dealt with by the big defenders in the visitor’s line-up.

Just as we looked to be pressing though Ipswich again – a cross headed down found David Norris whose shot was blocked at source by Kelvin Wilson excellently.  As ever the game swung from end to end, and Earnie perhaps should’ve hit the target after Cohen did well to play the ball across the box but the striker could only put it across the goal and wide.

The game started to get a bit stale towards the end of the half, although youngster Connor Wickham should’ve perhaps shown more composure with a chance near the end when he sent the ball across the face of goal.  All in all, Forest probably shaded possession – but direct chances were limited in the extreme for both sides, so a scoreless first half probably wasn’t that surprising.

Then came the loathsome half-time entertainment – I hadn’t mentioned the ‘family fun zone’ but will now.  Firstly, it’s great Forest are properly incentivising families to visit, and I think it’s great they extend the offer to away fans too.  However, bloody half/half Forest/Ipswich scarves? Argh! Don’t get me started.  I will never see the point in this ridiculous desire to seat opposing fans together.

The ‘entertainment’ comprised of two teams of kids running an obstacle course (the teams, naturally, mixed so that no team could ‘win’).  The kids were either too young or confused to complete most of the tasks and it took an age, it was worse than the awful mascot race in the Doncaster game.  And the public address system was so loud it was impossible to hold a conversation in the stands either.

Anyway, less of my grumping.  The second half started really rather well for us!  With barely two minutes on the clock an Earnie freekick was deflected horribly for Ipswich by what I think was the arse of Luke Chambers, giving Murphy absolutely no chance at all as it nestled into the goal to give the Reds the lead.

This seamed to palpably reduce the pressure on Forest, who started to look more comfortable from here on in.  A setback for our visitors occurred when Delaney was forced off with an injury, giving us a temporary one man advantage which we tried to exploit in vain as a decent cross from Paul Anderson was cleared and Keane was able to make the substitution.

Another break at pace, this time through Tyson, came to nothing when his cutback towards Earnshaw was blocked by the increasingly ragged looking visiting defence.  We didn’t let up, though, and after some great work by Gunter down the left – cutting right into the area, before finding Guy Moussi who took a couple of attempts to get the ball home after bulldozering his way into the box.

Shortly before this Chambers appeared to twist his left knee awkwardly and had been hobbling a touch – unsurprisingly he was withdrawn and replaced by James Perch.  A call for a penalty for a foul on Dex followed, looked a bit soft from my position and the referee was unhesitant in waving away the fairly low-key protests from our players.

Anderson was the next player to be withdrawn – characteristically for Billy he was the furthest player away from the Main Stand when the board went up! He was replaced by Raddy.  Moments later we’d secured the third goal – Tys played a decent ball in to Blackstock who found Earnie in a cracking position, it took him a couple of attempts but he finally slipped the ball calmly through Murphy’s legs to net his fourteenth goal of the campaign.

Tys was immediately sent to the far end of the pitch, which to the observant amongst us means he was next to be withdrawn – and indeed he was, with loanee George Boyd  taking the field in his place.  His first touch of the ball saw him set himself up for a cross/shot which went just past the far post – with Earnie pretty close to getting on the end of it.

Ipswich – who’d been noticably deflated right from Moussi’s goal – did have a foray forward though and Norris really should’ve at least hit the target from ten yards out, instead blazing over.  The last chance fell to us, with Raddy playing Earnie through but Murphy was alive to the danger and made the save which pretty much signalled the end of the game.

Once again, huge congratulations to Billy, his staff and the boys for securing a play-off finish.  What a tremendous turnaround from last season.  Congratulations too to West Brom for their automatic promotion, and finally condolences to the family and friends of Blaine Thomas.  Rest in peace, fellow Red.