Reds lucky to earn a point against impressive Norwich..

Nottingham Forest – 1
Norwich City – 1

All in all, a frustrating afternoon at the City Ground.  Forest struggled to make too much impact against an impressive Norwich side, who threatened more than the scoreline suggests.  It’s true that we could have nicked a very ill-deserved three points but for the woodwork, but if we’re being totally honest, we were quite fortunate to end up with the point we did get!

Probably the most disappointing thing about the afternoon for me was the reaction of some supporters when Billy made two substitutions – when Raddy was withdrawn there were boos, when McKenna was taken off there were cheers.  For what it’s worth, I thought both substitutions were the right move given the way the game was going.  Scattered boos at full-time are also unhelpful at this stage of the season.

So anyway, I’m getting ahead of myself really aren’t I?  Back to the beginning and Billy started with a fairly predictable line-up:

Camp
Chambers   Morgan    Wilson    Bertrand
Cohen    McKenna    Majewski     Anderson
Earnshaw     Blackstock

We actually made a promising start early doors – well, very early doors -Chambers crossed a ball in well but we couldn’t get anything on the end of it and it was cleared by a Norwich defender.  Minutes later they were breaking, Chris Martin made mincemeat of Kelv and unleashed what looked like a certain goal only for it to crash back off post.  Then he hit it again after a freekick.

Norwich were not only breaking quickly and dangerously but they were doing a great job in holding up Forest trying to reciprocate, so it was a pretty frustrating time of it from a Reds perspective! Raddy pushed a throughball to Anderson but his cross was deflected back to their ‘keeper, in the meantime Camp needed to be alert to save from Korey Smith.

On a foray forward the ball was loose in the area with Dexter heading to it before being hacked down by a Norwich player, unbelievably the referee – in a great position – gave nothing, the Forest players were so shocked it took them a while to realise play was continuing.  I will be very interested to see the replay should it feature tonight on The Championship.

Minutes later I think the referee might’ve run a mental replay – because Paul Anderson took a tumble under a fairly soft looking challenge by Russell Martin and this time the referee did point to the spot.  Dex immediately claimed it, and put it low to the right – it needed to be in the corner too as Ruddy had guessed the right way and wasn’t far from making the save.

Forest didn’t capitalise on this piece of luck though – and Norwich grabbed a deserved equaliser only a few minutes later.  From our point of view a soft goal to concede – a fairly soft freekick was awarded which was played into a crowded penalty area – it was eventually flicked to Andrew Crofts who looped it into the goal – Camp looked to get a good hand on it but couldn’t keep it out.

Half time, and 1-1 felt a bit flattering to the Reds – we’d had one shot on target which was, irrespective of the earlier faux pas of the referee, a pretty fortunate penalty decision.  We’d struggled as we have lately to look particularly deadly in the final third and were getting cut open at the back rather easily.  Not exactly a comfortable place to be!

Moments into the second half Grant Holt – who’d been pretty quiet so far – attempted a pretty laughable dive to try to get a penalty, the referee waved this away but didn’t opt to book him.  Cohen had an effort from range which was always heading wide for me, but did seem to give Ruddy a bit of a last minute panic as he dived to make sure.

Indeed, Forest were looking better if not good.  Norwich continued to threaten mostly down their left where Chambers was often looking horribly out of position.  In midfield we struggled to keep possession, and without wanting to pick out scapegoats, Paul McKenna in particular really struggled to pick out his passes and doesn’t look particularly fit.

Moussi was introduced on the hour for the clearly-flagging Majewski who’d had little impact in the second half.  Some Forest fans apparently didn’t notice this as there were smatterings of discontent at the change, personally I thought it wasn’t a bad shout – I might’ve considered McGugan as a more like-for-like change, but still, those that booed, get a grip, please!

Again going forward, Earnshaw did well to find Anderson who was denied a goalbound chance by an excellent block from Barnett – this ended Anderson’s game apparently with a medial knee ligament injury – he was replaced by Nathan Tyson, who continued the theme Forest are developing of pressing and having possession, but not converting it to chances.

Norwich, on the other hand, whilst not dominating possession were able to fashion good chances – a great run from Holt left him clear on goal but Camp was quick off his line to block the angle and made a great save to deny the former-Reds striker the winning goal I’m sure he was desperate to snag for his new club.

Billy’s final change was to introduce McGugan at the expense of the flagging McKenna.  He’s not been the same player for me since just before his injury – he was very wasteful with the ball today and slow to move it on, hindering our attacking.  Having said that, the reaction of some of the crowd in cheering his departure was shameful.  Utterly shameful.

Earnie – working hard on very limited service from the midfield – had a chance with a snapshot which looked to be heading over but dipped viciously and looked to have the beating of Ruddy, but didn’t dip quite enough.  At the other end Drury played a delicious ball across the face of goal that no Norwich player could quite reach – the linesman tried to give a corner, but the referee overruled him.

It ended up quite end-to-end, Norwich continued to press and it looked like we might get a chance to hit them on the break when the ball fell to Tys on the left, but he couldn’t get his cross past the Norwich defender. We could’ve snatched an absolutely stolen win at the death when Earnie worked a bit of magic to fashion a bit of space in the area at an angle and unleash a shot but he saw his shot rebound off the post and back into play.

As the full-time whistle sounded there were chunterings and the odd boo, I can understand the frustration – at times this was a dull, dull game from a Forest point of view.  Norwich deserve credit for playing positively whilst also nullifying our play – and I imagine that the sizeable number of Canaries who made the trip will feel hard-done to that they didn’t leave the City Ground with three points.

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Derby’s Clough and Taylor statue..

It looks great – much better in person than the pictures I’ve seen online. I can’t help but have the impression that Clough looks a bit older than he should for his time at Derby, but just as at Middlesbrough and Nottingham the likeness is unmistakable.

Peter Taylor stands beside him, and with their arms about each others’ shoulders they hold the Division One Trophy between them – elevated on a nine foot plinth in Unity Plaza. With a compass style arrangement beneath pointing to notable football landmarks including our very own City Ground.

Definitely worth popping down Brian Clough Way to see – it’s just the kind of effigy Forest should have commissioned – obviously both men a little older and holding a different trophy. Huge congratulations to everyone involved in making it happen, it’s a monument to be proud of.

I don’t imagine the attached pictures do it justice, but they’re there for what it’s worth – now back to Nottingham we go to hopefully see off the Canaries!