Unlucky Reds leave Burnley with nothing..

Iwelumo proved too much of a handful for the Reds

Burnley – 1
Nottingham Forest – 0

A tough opening day for the Reds was always going to prove tricky – but despite the assertions on Five Live as we returned to our transport home that Burnley ‘didn’t deserve to be denied’, I thought this was an evenly contested game.  A draw certainly wouldn’t have flattered us, and indeed, it could easily have been us that snuck the win rather than the Clarets.

Both sides had decent spells and moments of early season rustiness on show – and both sides had chances, the difference was – of course – the home side’s ability to take their best and only really clear cut chance.  An excellent cross despatched expertly into the net by the always troublesome Chris Iwelumo was enough to snag the three points for Brian Laws’ men.

After initial confusion when numerous internet sources suggested that Paul Smith was starting the match, the real team news was eventually clarified to see the Reds line up in a reasonably predictable formation – featuring a number of the potential injury-doubt players:

Gunter    Morgan    Wilson    Bertrand
Cohen    McKenna    Moussi     Tyson
Blackstock    Earnshaw

Possibly a more attacking line-up than I anticipated in that we had two up top, but with the security of the Moose and McKenna in the middle and Chris Cohen to often tuck in and utilise his Duracell Bunny powers of running. With the likes of Majewski, McCleary, Anderson and McGugan on the bench there were options to change, as well as cover in the form of Chambers and Adebola for those players who’d been carrying knocks.  Smith relegated from the squad entirely in favour of youngster Darlow.

The Reds started the game falteringly but with some good moments – good moments that didn’t really lead to chances though.  Burnley looked rattled early under pressure and I lost count of how many times they played the ball out needlessly into touch.  However, as they settled into the game they started to psoe a threat – and had the first real chance when Wes nicked the ball away from Wallace at the last moment.

All Reds eyes were on new boy Ryan Bertrand who made a great early impression by stopping Dean Marney from advancing dangerously from midfield.  Tys tried to power his way down the left but was prevented by Mears.  With twenty or so minutes on the clock came the first shot on target – courtesy of Walalce from range with his left foot which posed no problem for Camp to gather.

The next chance fell to the Reds – after a neat one-two between Earnie and Dex, the former unleashed a powerful shot to the near post beating the unbelievably makes-Paddy-Kenny-look-svelte Brian Jensen but crashing off the post and back into place – Earnie got on to the end of the rebound out near the touchline and tried to maintain the pressure but to no avail.

Similarly the home side were unlucky from a corner when a goalbound effort from Andre Bikey was cleared off the line by on-the-post Chris Cohen at the expense of a further corner.  The goal came just before half time, a decent cross from Elliott found Iwelumo bulldozering his way through our defence to head home from six yards – Camp didn’t have much chance from where I was sitting.

At half time Kelvin – who’d been down for treatment for some time in the first half – was replaced by Luke Chambers, and this time it was the home side that started the half confidently with Forest taking a while to get into their stride again.  Clarke Carlisle perhaps should’ve done better with a headed chance but put it wide under pressure from Dexter in the first five minutes of the half.

Probably the chance of the game came then for us – Chris Cohen and Blackstock combined well to get the ball to Earnie in the box, he’d spotted Tys in space to his left and pushed a perfect ball through to him, unfortunately Tys showed no composure and snatched at a shot which went over.  I realise Jensen is a big target to avoid, but to not even force a save was pretty dreadful.

This spurred the Reds fans on though, and they started to pass about more rather than relying on long balls up that were gobbled up by the Burnley centrebacks.  Another move culminated with Earnie in the box who turned to take a snapshot that went over – only to then see Cohen in a great position to score, he was visibly gutted, but well, we’d not be complaining if his shot had found its’ mark I suppose!

That’s not to say Burnley were out of it either though, Marney had a decent looping header which looked for a moment to have caught out Camp in a ropey position but it went over, and in fairness he looked to have just about had it covered.  Another quick Forest break saw Gunter cross but Dex was only able to head over before being substituted (having just spent a couple of minutes getting his bandage replaced and changed his shirt due to an earlier face injury).  Anderson replaced him.

The Reds started to looked more positive still, but their relatively positive movement tended to falter in the final third so didn’t end up with many chances.  Burnley by now had started to try to see the game out – but still looked dangerous on the break.  Despite the late addition of Raddy for Moussi, I don’t recall any real chances for the Reds late in to the game – whilst both Thompson and Marney had decent opportunities to extend their lead.

All in all, it wasn’t exactly a case of being hard done to, but had the score been reversed I don’t think Burnley could’ve complained either – a draw would’ve probably been fair, both sides had comparable chances – but alas for us Burnley took theirs whilst Tys blasted ours over the bar.  I’m not too unhappy with the performance though, and judging by the ovation from the Reds fans at the end neither are most people who were there.

Certainly there was a lack of the killer ball from midfield to attack – but given we opted for a midfield comprising players who perhaps aren’t famed for their super-accurate passing, maybe that’s not surprising.  Hopefully the transfer rumours continuing to bubble around the place have some substance to offer us a few more options.

Indeed, the two most persistent rumour-subjects of Peter Whittingham and Darren Pratley apparently both want to play for Forest, according to an unusually candid Mark Arthur.  Certainly if we want to live up to our billing by the bookies of second favourites for this league, then I think it’s clear we need to add some quality – and depth – to our squad, but there’s still a few weeks of transfer window for us to fret over, after all!