The news is there ain’t no news..


Isn’t close-season dull – as England go through their customary underwhelming preparations for the World Cup in South Africa, all things Forest become very quiet.  And when the news is quiet, the rumours go into overdrive.  Despite rumours of a rift and an impending departure for Billy, he and Nigel Doughty have met and agreed their joint purpose going forward, and now comes the inevitable focus on player signings.

I think it’s safe to say that Pratley remains a key target for the Reds – and to that you can add any number of names.  Cardiff City’s impending financial meltdown appears to have been delayed through new investors – that said, the amounts being touted might well keep the wolves from the door, but I’m not sure it will sustain the maintenance of such a talented squad amassed with money they didn’t have in the first place.  Certainly from a ‘sense of fair play’ perspective I would hope not.

Other definite news since my last post is that Millwall elevate themselves back the Championship via the play-offs, so congratulations to them and commiserations to Swindon Town – their opponents.  This gives us a complete picture of next season’s Championship participants – unlike last season, the bookies are struggling to pick clear winners this time – with the Reds in the mix amongst the early favourites after last season’s third placed finish.

Of course, early odds are just that – an early indicator.  Our activity (or lack thereof) in the transfer market will determine our real chances, although given our earliest transfer activity was announced in late June last season – we might have a wait on our hands in that respect, and a great deal of rumour mongering before that, I would imagine!  Boyd, Snodgrass, Beattie and whoever else we’ve been linked with will have to wait!

I’ve picked up the below odds from Betfair today just to illustrate the earliest view (Betfair betting is very sensitive to how actual punters are backing teams), it’s interesting – if a bit worrying given the clear weight of expectation the betting public have on us – and how we tend to quail under too much weight of expectation historically!  Then again, I always was a pessimist…

Nottingham Forest 10 Middlesbrough 10.5 Cardiff City 11 Queens Park Rangers 11.5 Burnley 12.5 Leicester City 14 Reading 15 Portsmouth 17.5 Ipswich Town 18 Hull City 18 Norwich City 19.5 Leeds United 21 Bristol City 23 Sheffield United 23 Swansea City 26 Derby County 26 Coventry City 30 Preston North End 36 Barnsley 38 Doncaster Rovers 38 Millwall 48 Crystal Palace 48 Scunthorpe United 48 Watford 50

So early indications would be a close old time of it – certainly I would expect Middlesbrough and Reading to pose a much bigger challenge this season than last, perhaps Queens Park Rangers will finally fulfil their potential under a more stable management team, Cardiff, Burnley, Ipswich, Leicester are all potential contenders – far from being a division not to fear, I see a lot of potentially well matched teams.

Throw in the inevitable unexpected risers (of which we and Leicester were amongst last season) and you could have a Leeds or a Derby elevating themselves beyond expectation too.  Equally you have the unexpected fallers – indeed, it’s quite normal for vanquished play-off competitors to fall back to the obscurity of mid-table in the hang-over season.  Which is why the levels of expectation upon the Reds worries me a bit – Billy too, going by his comments.

Hopefully that’s just me being my usual cautious self though – but next season is going to be tough, although I’m not about to start worrying about it or making serious predictions until we’ve seen a bit more activity in the transfer market.  Until then, I shall try to rouse my interest levels in the World Cup – difficult to get excited by over-experimented-in friendlies (and indeed, I’d suggest difficult to get worried by them too – take note, British Press!).

Nottingham’s rallying cry for the World Cup..

I’m a bit of a grinch when it comes to football music, unless of course it happens to be these spectacular efforts – or, indeed, if it involves John Barnes rapping.  So I quite surprised myself to actually enter into the spirit of fun that appeared to be involved in this Nottingham-themed World Cup song by Phil Rostance and the Marshall band.

It certainly fits the bill of feel-good cheese, and with involvement from Forest, County, Mansfield, The Nottingham Panthers, Carl Froch and the Trent FM guys (even Billy Davies is there on the vid), it’s certainly endorsed well by local sporting and media luminaries.  It even has an unlikely almost-rap section – sure, it’s no John Barnes, but you can’t have everything.

Should you want to possess this masterpiece (and I’m not sure I do, really, sorry guys!), then it can be purchased here.  You can pick up physical copies at the Tourist Information Centre in Nottingham, the Forest reception, County club shop, Mansfield Town, the Panthers shop at the Ice Arena or at the Vic Centre information desk.

Whilst musically it might not be my bag (rap section notwithstanding), it is raising money for two great causes – so I will be availing myself of a copy.  The Shine Foundation and the Nottingham University Hospital Charity are the great causes being supported by this single release.

A message to you, Blackpool.

Good luck at Wembley!

Whilst naturally the nature of our demise in the semi-final of the play-off wasn’t easy to bear witness to, there’s no denying we bowed out (with a whimper) to the better team over two legs.  I genuinely hope you can go one better and overcome Cardiff at Wembley.

Fingers crossed that Ian Holloway and your lads can work their magic again, certainly I can’t believe they’ll be playing with any fear!

‘Uneasy truce’ or just ‘sorting a few things out’ ?..

After their much publicised meeting in London, Forest chairman Nigel Doughty – and his manager, Billy Davies – part amicably having reassured one another they share the same objectives for the club.

Is it indeed an ‘uneasy truce’ as has been suggested, or are fans and media alike reading too much into everything?  Probably somewhere in the middle, as these things usually are.  Certainly Billy will probably be focused on the lack of transfer activity in January – let’s face it, it’s a nice smokescreen to take questions away from his tactics during our tricky away run.

From Mr Doughty’s point of view, I imagine he might well – as well as offering Billy whatever assurances he required with regard to the signing of players – will have had a thing or two to say about Billy’s media conduct.  Whilst it’s wound many of you up more than me, I can see how almost advertising your availability in the media isn’t going to be most people’s cup of tea.

Whether Davies’ relationship with Mark Arthur is really as bleak as people suggest, or indeed whether there really is a “Billy versus the acquisition panel” is – in my opinion – pure speculation.  Billy knew the score when he arrived, and whilst he may well desire things to be different, he can’t really complain that they’re not – he came to this job with his eyes open.

Whilst he’s undoubtedly a talented manager – leaving another club under a black cloud would make his CV read like a recurring dream, which perhaps is another reason for him and the board to settle their differences.  And compromise isn’t necessarily a bad thing – the board need to deliver signings faster in January if we are in dire need, and Billy needs to stop gobbing off in the media quite so much.

Rather than call this new era an ‘uneasy truce’ I imagine it was really a case of the two men sitting down and ‘sorting a few things out’.  Let’s hope it’s worked (plus it was a blatant excuse to put in the cartoon – why is it so hard to find a decent picture of Doughty?!).

Billy to stay, players targeted – and thanks a million (nearly)..

So it seems that after their ‘crunch meeting’ Forest owner Nigel Doughy and Billy Davies are – after all – singing from the same hymn sheet.  The nature of their relationship and any supposed gripes are obviously all in the realms of speculation anyway, but clearly both men have the same end goal with the Reds – if not always the same ideas about how to get there.

Tagged tantalisingly on the end of the piece in the Guardian which seemed to be the closest to the actual event, there’s news that Forest intend to resume their pursuit of Swansea midfielder Darren Pratley.  This would be a great move in my book, Pratley is young yet with considerable Championship experience, and he’s impressed the majority of times I’ve seen him against us (aside from the unnecessary diving).

Also a target is a left back (HALLELUJAH!) in the form of Chelsea reserve Patrick von Aanholt.  He’s previously spent time on loan at Newcastle and Coventry, so certainly has first team experience, and Chelsea seem open to him gaining more.  Certainly early confirmation of signings such as these would provide a very welcome distraction from this largely unsavoury speculation over the manager and his commitment to the cause.

Forest have also been busy organising pre-season friendlies – opting to again defy those fans who like to claim every game by playing two friendlies at the same time.  Twice!  July 24th sees the Reds playing one game at Peterborough and one at Kidderminster Harriers, on the 21st July one Reds side will visit Tranmere whilst another has the shorter trip to Mansfield.

In more personal news it’s been another great season for visits for the blog – I tend to count ‘years’ as August-July as I started way back in August 2006 – so we haven’t finished ‘this year’ yet.  Year to date though visits are up 16%, and assuming Forest can muster some blog-worthy activity between now and July, I’ve projected I have a good shout of smashing the 1,000,000 visits mark before next season starts.

That would be amazing – so a huge thanks to all of you who visit, and especially those of you who interact by commenting, or on my haphazardly updated Twitter and Facebook pages too – for me that’s what makes this all the more interesting, rather than just being my self-indulgent prattling about Forest.

Season ticket prices announced..

Some months after other clubs get their pricing tied up, Forest announced their season ticket prices today.  Modest rises all round seem to be the order of the day, which is most definitely tolerable.  Unless you happen to be in the Under 21 age bracket then you’re looking at a heftier rise.  That said, I always struggled to see why Under 18 and Under 21 were so close in price before the massive jump to adult prices.

So I’m quite content with that really.  You have until June 26th to renew your seat after which they become available presumably for ‘transferring’ season ticket holders to move to.  Forest are offering the usual short-term loan option to pay by instalments, and seem to have finally done away with the ludicrous % surcharge for using Visa-backed debit cards to pay up front for your ticket.  All in all, a grumble free zone for this writer!

I will grumble a little bit about the away membership scheme – which is a complete and utter con, but one those of us who travel away a bit must be party to because it’s basically a glorified queue-jumping mechanism.  A slight rise in this, £32 for those of us renewing, £37 to new entrants to the scheme.  As Forest have already demonstrated their ability to prioritise tickets based on away attendance records, I don’t see why this system is in place other than as a cynical cash-raising exercise.

But still, that’s a relatively small gripe mostly in an announcement full of positivity – to get over the idea I tend to consider the away membership as part of my season ticket cost.  It still doesn’t see me paying the most expensive regular season ticket cost, and gives me peace of mind that – combined with my ‘games attended’ list, I’m unlikely to not be able to attend a game I would like to go to.  All the information you need should be at the end of this link.

Billy: Should I stay or should I go?

"Whoa! Calm down! I only said I'd consider other jobs!"

I must admit that come the end of the football season I’m ready for a ‘rest’ from it.  I like switching off and not worrying about Forest for a while, I don’t check news feeds nearly as often and don’t check out the forums with nearly as much regularity.  But it’s hard to ignore the continued speculation surrounding Billy Davies.

If you remember back to last time we were without a manager I was dead against Billy, and I’m delighted to eat humble pie and say he proved me wrong completely.  I’d be very disappointed if he sought pastures new after affecting a remarkable turnaround in our fortunes – elevating us from 19th to 3rd inside a season is no mean achievement, and if he’d had his way in January arguably we might’ve pushed automatic further.

Having said that, I can’t quite subscribe to the anger some fans are feeling regarding his recent comments in the press.  As far as I can make out, all he’s done is said that he’d consider other jobs – he’s also said he relishes the challenge at Forest.  Sounds like a perfectly healthy and ambitious attitude for a manager to have to me.

When I pick up publications at work or the Evening Post I tend to have a check on the job pages – not because I’m unhappy in my current role, but it would be folly not to consider there might be something better out there.  I don’t see why Billy shouldn’t do the same, particularly in an industry where very little security nor loyalty is forthcoming to him from above.  It would be churlish to expect him to reciprocate it.

That’s no reflection on what he feels towards the fans or the ‘club’ as an organisation.  Time and again he’s praised the Forest fans for the backing we’ve given him, he appreciates us – of course he does – but for some fans to expect him to come out with unequivocal commitment to Forest and no other team are being a bit on the naïve side.  His attitude towards his employers (the board) is totally separate.

I really hope that Billy isn’t considering seeking new pastures – but I’m not churlish enough to plead he stays for the fans.  He should stay for his own ambitions, to improve his own achievements – and I truly hope that he feels they can be fulfilled here.  Let’s not forget the greatest manager we’ve had was an ambitious man, he wanted the England job, and constantly bitched and moaned at the boards he worked under.

Whatever happens, I would certainly wish Billy well wherever he ends up (within reason).  If he leaves he leaves us in a better place than when he took over – and certainly I think the acquisition policy deserves some credit for this too.  Sensible acquisition has given us a talented, young side on a modest budget – with a talented manager to get them working together.  That’s the model I like to see Forest operating – within our means.

Let’s hope we can continue with Billy still at the helm – but to expect him to show some kind of outlandish show of loyalty seems a bit unrealistic, it’s certainly not something that he is likely to get from the powers-that-be at any football club.  If it’s not to be, then Billy isn’t irreplaceable either – although I wouldn’t want to have the job of trying to find that replacement.  For a little man, he’d leave big shoes to fill.

Ah yes, I remember play-off semi-final second legs..

Billy's boys weren't up to it today, but I hope the wee man sticks around!

Nottingham Forest – 3
Blackpool – 4

This is becoming a bit of a habit isn’t it?  The first thing we must do is offer hearty congratulations to our opponents.  Of course, there were referee decisions to howl at in both fixtures, but it would be a hard-nosed Forest-blinkered individual to say that Blackpool weren’t worthy winners of the semi-final.  I truly and deeply wish them well in the final – well played Tangerines.

An early lead was just what Forest needed on the night, and achieved – but Ian Holloway’s men stood by their manager’s words and stayed positive and attacked throughout and ultimately triumphed thanks – in no small part – to a deadly appearance from soon-to-be-jailbird DJ Campbell, who put in an Arron Davies-like performance with a hattrick to give Blackpool a win on the night.

That’s four times they’ve beaten us over 90 minutes this season, and really, whilst the disappointment bites – it’s hard to begrudge them anything.  The better team won, and I’m prepared to say it and wish them well at Wembley (made spectacularly easy given the distastefulness of their potential opponents admittedly!).

Billy went predictable, and that’s not a criticism – it might well have been the best side available to him given the task at hand to get a two goal advantage.  As it turns out, is wasn’t enough.

Gunter    Morgan    Wilson    Perch
Cohen    McKenna    Majewski   Tyson
Blackstock    Earnshaw

It was a decent atmosphere from the sell-out crowd, and early doors Raddy had an effort which was over – it was end-to-end though, with former Reds loanee Ormerod striking a volley well – but finishing just over the bar.  Then it all seemed to be going according to plan, as the Reds managed to take an early lead with a well-worked and taken ball.

Dex as involved in the build-up leading to Raddy Majewski crosing to Earnie who made no mistake at all from the finish to level the tie – before haring to the Brian Clough Stand to unleash his customary celebration.  This really woke up the fans who were in decent voice, and not long after he maybe ruing not making it two as he beat the offside trap but couldn’t unleash a clean shot – having to settle for a corner.

But Blackpool threatened still.  An Ormerod cross needed to be put out for a corner by Perch, and Adam was allowed to hit an effort from range which Camp needed to look alert to tip over.  Cohen tried from range but didn’t get a good contact and Gilks was – despite the initial dive – able to see the ball wide for a goal kick.

Some nice play between Cohen and Dex culminated in the latter having an effort on goal – but it was weak and didn’t realy challenge the keeper.  Then was perhaps the moment we did have a gripe with the officials as Dex broke through only to be pulled up for an offside flag which I understand TV replays suggest was as dubious as it looked from my seat.

So at half time we were reasonably content to have levelled the tie – of course the away side offered considerable threat but we’d offered a reasonable account of ourselves too.  Blissfully unaware (but perhaps mindful of past play-off disasters) we awaited the second half with some degree of excitement and optimism.  Oh how premature that was to prove to be!

Moments in to the second half it seemed we’d got the perfect start – Earnie broke through and put the ball in the net.  Fortunately for me I’d spotted the late flag, unfortunately many fans hadn’t – it looked dodgy to me, but then I’m biased – I’m not sure what the replays showed.  It was certainly a pivotal point in the match, though.

The breakthrough for Blackpool came just shy of the hour mark, Keith Southern had found Campbell with a decent pass and uncharacteristically Camp came haring off his line for no real reason, giving the striker the opportunity to score a fairly soft goal – albeit a well-taken one (well-taken is the watchword for Blackpool!).

No sooner had the away fans had their resurgence of atmosphere control we were back in it though, a Gunter cross was met by Blackstock and ultimately ended up at the feet of Earnie who crashed it into the top of the net from short-range to once again level the game on aggregate and ignite the home fans into song.

Alas, it wasn’t to last – and I’m sure you know how the story ends – a shot from Dobbie deflected horribly and found the net to restore their lead without giving Camp the vaguest of opportunities to save – whilst a the other end a quick break culminating in chances for Blackstock and Earnshaw were met with an excellent double save by Gilks.  Whilst I like to try to be positive, it was starting to feel like the writing was on the wall.

It really felt like that when Dobbie again proved tormenter – picking up the ball after it was lost by Perch to find our other tormenter Campbell, who again finished with aplomb from 12 yards to give the visitors a bit of daylight in the tie for the first time.  The pair combined again when Dobbie shot, Camp parried and Campbell finished a pretty much open goal from six yards.

The consolation goal perhaps summed things up for us – late substitute Dele Adebola of all people burst through and almost cocked up the opportunity to score before the ball rebounded kindly for him infront of an empty goal.  Stoppage time was already in effect and it wasn’t a particularly well celebrated goal – to say the least!

All in all, a very disappointing evening’s work for the boys in Red – but I return to my starting theme, congratulations to Blackpool who showed some real nerve and battling attacking spirit.  I truly hope they triumph at Wembley and don’t really much begrudge them their trip to the capital as we didn’t really do enough to earn it, it has to be said.

As for Forest – it’s easy to get swallowed in disappointment, but I never really expected a play-off finish this season.  To have finish third compared to nineteenth last season is a fantastic achievement and whilst the end is sour, it’s been a tremendous season and one the players, staff and fans should be proud of.  I’m still proud to be a Red and I’m sure those of you reading are too.

Have a good summer all (I’m sure I’ll have a few things to post during the summer months), and on 22nd May let’s all cheer on Blackpool in their ongoing play-off adventure against either Cardiff or Leicester.

And remember, it could be worse, we could have an unelected Tory Prime Minister… oh….. what a shit night!

Forest vs. Blackpool preview..

I wasn’t going to do a preview, with the games coming so close – but well, I changed my mind.  I said the last game was huge, and now with a one goal deficit to overcome at the City Ground, the stakes couldn’t be higher.  Forest put their nineteen game unbeaten league run at the City Ground on the line for a shot at the big time (or, I suppose, a shot at a shot at the big time).

A capacity crowd will be there to hopefully provide plenty of backing to Billy and the boys as they seek to address the 2-1 scoreline that Blackpool earned at Bloomfield Road.  Away goals count for nothing here, so Forest would need to amass a two goal lead or more to progress whilst avoiding extra time, a one goal lead of course activates that.  We’ve not got a good record in extra time during past play-off encounters!

On Saturday neither side exactly played to their potential – a strong first half for Forest was still only sufficient to go in level at half time, and was followed by a less composed second half.  Blackpool were more consistent over both halves and demonstrated their dangerous finishing – taking their fewer chances to earn lead at half time in the two legged tie.

The good news is that the Reds didn’t pick up any further injury problems – both Paul McKenna and Chris Cohen came through the game with no concerns which is good news.  We are further boosted by the news that Guy Moussi is available after missing out on the trip to the seaside with a groin injury.

Blackpool too picked up no injuries so will be in a similarly strong position – Holloway has been pretty consistent in his team selections of late so we can perhaps expect the same line-up again, whilst Billy I expect to do something different.  Given our need for goals, I’d expect Earnie to be starting alongside Dexter in a more attack-minded formation.

I think the visitors too will be in attack-mode too, though.  Having seen them a few times now it’s certainly where their strength lies, and Holloway will be hoping to exploit any gaps at the back we might leave in pursuit of a goal by hitting us on the break.  It will be an interesting encounter, for sure – which is why Billy’s plea for the fans to generate some noise is a good shout.

As for us – we need to make better use of our chances (and indeed, hope for referees who can spot something like a hand-ball in the area!!) – we created enough at Bloomfield Road but didn’t take advantage.  This is a real big lesson we can learn from the Lancashire men in Tangerine – their ‘goal’s scored’ column in the league table is the envy of pretty much everyone bar Newcastle and West Brom.

Whilst it’s a bit of a cliché, with the tie still close as it is then I can’t help but think the side that notches first will be the side in ascendency.  Forest don’t fail to score at home very often, and indeed, we’re not adverse to keeping clean sheets – but with Blackpool’s chance-taking credentials that will be a bigger challenge than many games we’ve played lately at the City Ground.

It’s going to be an intense evening, and certainly I’m already feeling the nerves starting to kick in as I contemplate it.  The prize awaiting the winner is the chance to go on to Wembley and face either Cardiff or Leicester (Cardiff are 1-0 up and have home advantage for the next leg on Wednesday).  I shall refrain from predictions – but can certainly state that I hope the team that triumphs at the City Ground tomorrow goes on to win at Wembley.

As for us, we must heed Billy’s call and get behind the team as much as possible.  We all desperately want an early goal to settle the nerves, but frankly, if that isn’t forthcoming then certain fans need to quell that urge they have to start griping and moaning.  Positivity is the name of the game and we can play our part which – even if it has a moderate impact on our players – it’s worth it!

Half time, advantage Blackpool!

Cohen gave the Reds a short-lived lead...

Blackpool – 2
Nottingham Forest – 1

It was a case of third time unlucky for the Reds as Blackpool had the beating of them over ninety minutes for the third time this season – setting up a tense return leg at the City Ground on Tuesday.  The Reds must beat Blackpool over ninety minutes, and by two or more goals if they want to avoid extra time.

A thousand or so Reds fans once again struggled to make any noise in the open stand, but were given early cheer with a sublime Chris Cohen goal to put Forest in to the lead, but unfortunately for the travelling Red Army they had to bear witness to – for the first time – Forest falling behind in a fixture having taken the lead.  Since this fixture is two-legged, I’m sticking with it being half time so the stat still stands!

A surprise (ish) return for Paul McKenna saw Billy opt for the cautious approach I predicted – but with the likes of Raddy, Anderson, Tys and Cohen to support lone striker Dexter up front.  I wasn’t sure whether he’d do the Gunter-Perch exchange at fullback or stick with Lynch who had a couple of decent enough games at the end of the season.

Perch    Morgan    Wilson    Gunter
Tyson    Cohen    McKenna    Majewski     Anderson

The midfield was pretty fluid so I’ve put them in a flat  formation – but generally as you’d expect McKenna was sitting, Raddy was often supporting attack, Cohen was everywhere and Tys and Ando weren’t adverse to cutting in (when on their ‘wrong’ side) and also swapping wings occasionally.

It was a positive start for the Reds, after swapping ends it took less than five minutes for us to attempt an assault on the Tangerine goal.  Nathan Tyson did well to lose a couple of defenders but will be ruing the inaccuracy of his shot which was comfortably over!  The home side weren’t adverse to attacking either, Camp punching away a cross from Charlie Adam.

Phil Dowd issued his first yellow card early doors too, after Evatt was unable to deal with Tys without fouling.  Certainly those of you who watched with the benefit of TV replays will be better placed to advise me, but I thought the referee had a pretty awful game in both directions – but the balance of his decisions definitely tended to making him a bit of a ‘homer’.

Before we get onto referee moaning though, the Reds took the lead seemingly out of the blue just shy of the quarter of an hour mark.  The home side failed to clear a ball direct from Camp, Baptiste only got the ball as far as Raddy who found Chris Cohen on the edge of the box who looked up and took the opportunity to curl and dip a wonderful shot beyond Gilks into the top corner with the outside of his left foot.

Moments later we were close to doubling our lead, Cohen whipped in a freekick from the right and Wes looked close to getting something on it at the back post which could’ve at least been a shot hopefully on target.  But the home side, dangerous as we well know, took around as long as Forest had from kick-off to fashion their equaliser.

It was reminiscent in some ways to the goal they scored at the City Ground all that time ago – because our defence just fell asleep for a moment.  That doesn’t detract from the decent build-up for the goal though – Coleman was the architect really with a great run from the right, finding Evatt who scuffed a cross in to Southern who scuffed his shot to beat Camp, and Wils on the line.

The Reds were doubly unlucky not to re-take the lead shortly after, Raddy broke well and found Anderson bursting down the left – he put in an excellent cross which Dex met with a looping header that beat the ‘keeper, but hit the bar and fell for Tys whose ambitious acrobatic volley was bloody close to finding the net too, ending up just over.

As the half closed Forest mounted further pressure – a couple of corners culminated in an Anderson flick-on to Morgan who composed himself to strike powerfully at goal but found his effort cleared off the line.  Blackpool defended resolutely though and were able to weather the storm to half time with the scores level.

Blackpool were immediately on the front foot in the second half, and Wes needed to be alert to deny Ormerod with a deflection.  Ten minutes into the half they got handed a great lifeline by Phil Dowd, a tangle between Perch and Campbell resulted in a penalty I was convinced wasn’t warranted at the time – watching the replay, I’d have been annoyed if that happened to us and wasn’t given.

It was duly despatched by Charlie Adam in confident style, striking firmly into the bottom left corner and sending Camp the wrong way in the process.  A rare decision in our favour (as it seemed!) from Dowd gave us a quick opportunity to equalise with a free-kick, but Cohen’s chipped effort to the near post was over (and probably covered by the goalkeeper even if it wasn’t over).

The Reds were struggling to pass the ball, and the home side were looking dangerous at times.  DJ Campbell will be probably still kicking himself that he spooned the ball over when he had time and space to do so much better.  Shortly after Dowd continued his incompetence by awarding the home side a freekick in a dangerous position after Wils cleanly took the ball from Taylor-Flecter who went down like a sack of spuds.  He got booked for it too.

Adam struck the ball firmly into the wall, and shortly after Billy tried to freshen things up by replacing Blackstock and Majewski with McGoldrick and Earnshaw.  Whilst I’d never dream of suggesting I know better than Billy, because I don’t, I thought we could’ve done with some change prior to this – with less than fifteen minutes to go.

McGugan was the last throw of the dice for this leg, coming on for Tys pretty much at the death.  He did have a couple of nice touches but little time to impact the match, a pity as he looked up for it and we know how effective he can be as an impact sub.  Chris Cohen offered the last notable action of the game with an excellent shot from range in the final moments, with Gilks making a cracking save to deny him his second goal.

All in all, ignoring my referee moaning (there was a moment when I thought there was a handball in their area which naturally he didn’t see), it’s hard to feel too hard done by in terms of the result.  Forest were excellent at times in the first half but struggled in the second whilst Blackpool were fairly consistent throughout – so maybe they deserve the edge they have.

In terms of match previews – there’s not much point in doing one beyond a paragraph here.  For Forest, our mandate has to be to win – quite a simple objective.  Ian Holloway is left with the conundrum of whether to come to the City Ground to defend their slender advantage or play their natural game and work on extending it.

Certainly I’ve never considered Blackpool the underdogs they like to portray themselves as in the media.  As they’ve demonstrated a frustrating number of times they are capable of getting results against Forest by hook or by crook – and also a worrying propensity to get penalties awarded against us whilst we never do against them!

It promises to be a tense evening but hopefully the Reds fans – in numbers and in more suitable environs – will be able to better play their part in the game.  Credit to the Blackpool supporters, ignoring the tacking clap-assisting things many had, they certainly made plenty of noise at Bloomfield Road to get behind their team.  We should follow that lead at the City Ground.