Nottingham Forest – 1
Sheffield United – 1
It was like all their Christmases had come early for Sheffield United when Cresswell’s not particularly stealth-like run into the box was totally unchecked during their first attack, leaving the big fella all the time in the world to plant a decent header beyond Lee Camp. After that, Forest really struggled to get into gear, and the Blades didn’t take many risks – but an equaliser of course did come eventually.
Unsurprisingly Billy showed faith in his starting eleven who performed so well against Swansea, the only change on the bench being Tys coming in for Thornhill having recovered from a virus. The only conceivable problem I could envisage with this was the lack of ‘role’ for ‘The Moose’ – Sheffield United don’t have a Darren Pratley to marshall, so The Moose would need to be more proactive in his involvement.
Gunter Morgan Chambers Bertrand
Anderson McKenna Moussi Cohen
The Reds actually made the very early running, McGugan made a burst down the left with the away defenders seeming in slow motion, his cross almost found Anderson at the back stick but Jordan was able to clear. After this a Cohen cross found Anderson who in turn found Blackstock whose effort wasn’t really too troubling for Simonsen in the Sheffield United goal. Promising stuff, we thought! We were wrong…
On their first move forward the Blades were awarded a fairly soft freekick by a referee who was to be consistently baffling throughout the evening – Jordan took it and delivered it brilliantly, unfortunately the Reds neglected to track the run of Cresswell who found himself six yards out with a free header and made no mistake. Chambers was on Cresswell from then, not sure whether he should have been on this occasion.
The Blades, not exactly roared on despite the lead, by their rather small 1,200 odd fans could’ve had a second too after the Moose had clumsily lost the ball in midfield culminating in Bogdanovic getting clean through, fortunately Camp was alert to the threat and saved at his feet – luckily for us the ball fell to a Red shirt and we were able to clear our lines. It wasn’t looking great through!
At the other end Forest were quickly reverting to long balls, one from Wes was nodded down well by Dexter to Lewis whose effort was just wide. Back in our danger zone Camp made a cracking save from Jordan who struck a well-taken low shot through a crowded box after a corner. Without the bodies it would’ve been straightforward but it must’ve been a late sighting for the Reds keeper.
Despite the stuttering and stunted play, the Reds were crafting chances – but not getting much on target, good work from McKenna played the energetic Gunter down the right, his cross almost gave Anderson a shooting chance but the winger couldn’t get any contact on it enabling the away side to clear. Yeates had a chance to double the Blades’ lead, a well taken lob looked to have Camp beaten but the ‘keeper was able to dive back and palm it out for a corner.
The final chance of the half fell to McGugan who picked up the ball on the right edge of the area, he worked his way across the edge of the box to the left hand side of the D and was able to wrap his left foot around the ball, however he wasn’t able to drag it across the ‘keeper nor get much power on it – so whilst a decent effort, it wasn’t too tricky for Simonsen to make the save.
Half time was quite gloomy – whilst this report reading back makes it sound even, the Reds hadn’t created many direct opportunities whilst the Blades had scored, and brought two or three decent saves from Camp. Forest were looking leggy and short of ideas, and the Blades were – predictably – spoiling (which I suspect they would have been doing had they not scored).
The referee and linesmen were proving unpopular too, I’ve lost track in my head of when these incidents happened but as Cohen seemed to be one-on-one he gave us a freekick rather than play the advantage, and after a Dex (I think) header had struck the bar the linesman gave an offside decision that was roundly derided by fans better placed than I, and Forest players. I shan’t dwell on the awful officials, as it wasn’t really the cause of our being behind. That was all our own doing!
As the second half commenced it didn’t immediately look much better, the Blades were characteristically dogged and determined not to be broken down, for their part Forest lacked movement, invention and guile – making it about as interesting as watching a game of chess at times. When Forest did break, for example McGugan bursting down the right and crossing, we never seemed to have anyone in the box, we don’t have any gamblers (except Earnie maybe, at Forest).
Dele was our first sub, I denounced it on Twitter and called him The Towel, that was a bit harsh it turns out – as whilst it took him a while, the big fella was to have an impact on the game. I shall have a ‘Towel amnesty’ – it’s naughty of me, even in jest, to be so negative towards a Forest player anyway, so no more calling Dele ‘The Towel’ even though it’s quite funny.
Forest were starting to look a bit more lively, an Anderson corner found Wes rising in the box but his header was wide – but we were starting to put pressure on and keep it on, which we hadn’t managed so far. The equaliser came when Bertrand found McKenna on the edge of the box at 25 yards out, it was – to be honest – a fairly routine save for Simonsen, a dip might’ve confused him, and he palmed it up and over himself into the goal.
He really should be saving those, and I’m sure he’ll be kicking himself – but just as the Blades had scored through a Reds defensive lapse, we profited from a goalkeeping error. It was probably reasonably fair. Maybe. Tys was the next sub, the board said Cohen, Cohen went to it, then Billy called Anderson over instead much to his consternation. So Anderson off, Tyson on – Forest were going for it whilst the Blades were reeling a bit.
Tys was quickly on the ball down the left but his cross was blocked. Forest continued to press, a cross/shot from Bertrand could’ve been spilled to the onrushing strikers, but Simonsen held firm despite a fair bit of abuse from the Reds fans inspired by his earlier error. Another high ball into the box saw Adebola and Bartley clash – I thought Dele led with his elbow, as clearly did numerous visiting players and fans – the ref didn’t see any problem and ordered the game onward after Bartley had been stretchered off.
The final change was to take of McGugan – a decent enough game, similar to Hull away, but in and out of it. McCleary replaced him as Billy was clearly going for speed or muscle rather than Raddy who would probably have been broken in half by the ‘robust’ visitors. Whilst the Reds enjoyed all the possession we struggled to find a way through – the Blades made their position clear by timewasting from a late corner taking it short.
The last action of the game was a Reds corner taken well, Chambers – who’d been pretty poor for most of the game in defence – looked to have got something on it, but it went over and the referee blew for full time. Speaking of the referee, there was another point in this half when he gave us an advantage (after my half-time moan), except there wasn’t any advantage. He was awful. Not biased, just shit for both sides.
On balance, a draw was probably about right. The Blades drew more saves from Camp, but we had more pressure – I’m not sure what that means. I would certainly have taken a point at half time but the fact that we piled on the pressure for much of the second half makes it necessarily disappointing because of the nature of football fans, but in honesty it could’ve been 2 or 3 at half time, so I’m quite pleased with a draw.
It keeps our over-a-year-unbeaten (if you ignore play-offs 😉 ) at home in the league record intact, a record I’d not really paid much attention to until it was on the radio this morning. Still, we’re not at home again for a bit so it won’t be under threat for a while I suppose – and with Boro up next well, they can’t even beat Derby away! Good comeback today, stand out performers for the Reds were McKenna (not just for the goal either) and Gunter.
Moussi and Chambers disappointed after picking up the plaudits at the weekend – Bogdanovic is a handful but he’s not as good as Chambers made him look at times, he and Moose were particularly bad for unforced errors. I expect to see a few changes by Billy when the Reds head up to Doncaster next week, indeed, he spoke post-match of pondering changing it for this – I think he probably should have, but it’s easy to say that with hindsight!
Could be worse, we could be Leeds….!
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