Reds denied first win by Shilton reborn!

Dex: Penalty villain and equalising hero!

Nottingham Forest – 1
Millwall – 1

On a day where there was talk of protests and suchlike, it was a more tranquil scene than suggested at the City Ground.  Anyone who wandered near the Main Stand car park would’ve seen the usual fans going to their seats, checking out the club shop and a few stewards perhaps wondering why they’d been asked to be deployed there.  So sanity prevailed, which is always nice!

Forest are obviously still seeking a win, and that would have obviously lifted spirits tremendously – alas they started the game like a side that had just read in the press they weren’t good enough.  Millwall profited from some incredibly lax defending, and despite carving some opportunities the last ball and final shot for Forest was oft missing.

The second half was almost all Forest – and for a while it looked like a dogged Millwall rearguard would take the spoils back to London, but eventually we did get a well-deserved equaliser – and, as Billy noted after the game, the fans should take some real credit for their positivity and backing of the boys – a big collective slap on the back all round – it was great to hear.

On Billy, much has been said about his comments regarding signings and not being good enough – if you listened to his post-match interview you’d have heard somebody much more positive – and, if you listen to the interview from which those previous quotes were taken in full, you’d hear similar.  Much as Billy himself says, don’t always assume selective quoting from the media tells the whole story.  Have a listen to his pre-match interview in full and see what you think:

Billy Davies interview from Nottingham Journal

Billy opted for a predictable line-up really – not a criticism, he doesn’t have that many options and with Anderson nursing a slight knock it perhaps made that particular call easier for him:

Chambers    Morgan    Wilson    Bertrand
Tyson    McKenna    Majewski    Cohen
Earnshaw    Blackstock

Starting kicking towards the Trent End for a change the Reds almost got themselves ahead by accident, an intricate freekick which culminated in Earnie having a shot almost fooled Forde in the Millwall goal, but he reacted well to make a smart save to keep it out.  We’ll hear more about Forde later!  However, despite the bright start it started to go a bit tits up quite quickly.

Just four minutes were on the clock when the Reds allowed Danny Schofield far too much time on the left to pick out and excellent cross into the centre – where Steve Morison was lurking to plant an unchallenged header across Camp and into the bottom corner, which certainly sparked the large following of Millwall fans into life, many almost spilling onto the pitch.

The Reds were enjoying (perhaps not the best word) a lot of possession but were falling down with the final ball or shot – but we looked to have created an inroad when Tys burst into the box and was annihilated by Alan Dunne.  Despite Forde diving early to his left, Dex conspired to spanner the resulting penalty into the Trent End.

Millwall now had a fairly decent spell without too many assaults on the Reds goal, that said, former Forest striker Neil Harris almost scored a beauty when he spotted Camp off his line and went for the chip, the Forest ‘keeper backpedalling enough to get a hand to it and put it over for a corner to the visitors.

Again at the other end Tys, looking lively and eager as ever – but limited of first touch and finish – had burst forward but thwarted by Forde – Millwall were capable of breaking quickly too, though, and Morison had a similar effort to his goal but it went just over.  Morison was proving a real handful upfront for the Reds, and Chambers in particular was having a hard time without much midfield cover infront of him.

A hopeful punt forward almost put Earnie one on one, but his first touch wasn’t great and after it had gone out for a goalkick the striker walked tentatively back before hitting the deck.  He was taken off for Anderson, with Tys pushing up front, it turns out Earnie has a hamstring problem which thanks to the early intervention by Billy isn’t too serious – but obviously will be a concern for tuesday’s trip to Preston.

Now in a striker role I’m sure Tyson will look back on his next chance with some regret, as the ball came to him on his left at a tight angle, but he hit it into the side netting.  There really isn’t much excuse for not hitting the target from that kind of range, frankly!  At the other end Morison continued to make an absolute nuisance of himself, getting on the end of another good cross and heading just over.

The Reds were starting to get their shit together though, and whilst the final pass or shot had been lacking were starting to show signs of positivity and that was rewarded by backing for the fans.  The last opportunity fell to Cohen who hit a decent curling effort that Forde was the equal to – diving to his right to palm the ball to safety.

Half time was rife with talk of frustration – Forest had started badly, and had been wasteful with chances, but there were plenty of silver-lining things, but just not enough to force the sun through the clouds.  The Millwall fans – just shy of 1800 of them – are always quite entertaining too, their most sung ‘chant’ being a monotonous drone which reminded me of the ‘special’ kid at Primary School who ran around the playground going “DURRRRRRRRRRRRR!” at the top of his voice!

It took ten minutes for the second half to really get going – Forest had had possession similar to the first but not crafted too many opportunities – but that was going to change.  Wes must consider himself desperately unlucky not to have netted with two decent headers ten minutes into the half, one saved by Forde after a cracking cross from Bertrand, the other from a deflected shot by Dex and cleared off the line.

The Reds continued to press Millwall who – to their credit – battle and chuck themselves infront of everything.  Tys had a decent effort from the left channel which was saved by Forde, although Millwall were still looking dangerous on the break – Camp needing to punch away a cross which fell to Morison whose effort was close but just over.

Then came Forde’s moment of glory, he temporarily assumed the role of ghost-of-Shilton and pulled of an amazing triple save – so amazing numerous Reds fans, self included, stood up and applauded him.  Raddy’s was the first shot which I don’t think he saw coming, Bertrand struck the rebound which he saved and immediately rose to his feet again to deny a well-struck shot by Tyson.

Billy introduced Lewis for McKenna – the captain had put in a much improved performance and received a good reaction from the fans – and immediately sought to get involved.  Perhaps having a shot from a tight angle against Shilton-reborn was optimistic but he did spill it, and eventually he was to drop his concentration to allow the Reds to get a very well deserved equaliser.

A lofted cross from Cohen seemed to hang in the air forever – at the time I thought Forde had scooped it into his own goal but it transpires Dex rose above the hesitant keeper to plant an excellent header into the goal.  The City Ground erupted and whilst it certainly dented the noise from the away end, the away side came to life again – Carter really should’ve at least worked Camp after a quick break, luckily for us he kicked it wide.

The Reds had chances to grab a winner too, Lewis played a lovely throughball for Anderson who didn’t quite have the composure to get the ball properly under control.  At the death the two created another great opportunity, McGugan waited on the right for Anderson to make a run into the box, Ando got ahead of the ‘keeper but couldn’t quite connect with the excellent ball Lewis had played across the box.

Into stoppage time Billy withdrew Tys for Adebola.  Tys had picked up a slight knock in the first half but it was pretty much game over from this point.  A good point, but we were so unlucky not to win.  Billy said after the game he was proud of the players – and the fans – and I was too.  They worked their arses off and didn’t drop their heads when things didn’t quite work out.  And the fans backed them which was very heartening.