Barnsley vs. Forest preview..

It seems sooo long since we’ve played – and the reward for our patience is a trip to Oakwell on Saturday to face the challenge of the Tykes.  The Reds are unbeaten in nine, but there’s been an awful lot of draws in there, our hosts have a decent home record – although their last game was at Oakwell and was a defeat at the hands of Cardiff.

Earnie is unlikely to return to the squad – still nursing his thigh injury, but there’s been no reported problems for our international trio of Bertrand, Gunter and Majewski – Raddy coming back a bit later than the others, so will require a check upon his return from a transatlantic adventure with Poland.

As for our hosts, they have internationals returning too – Trippier is back from action with Romania with no problem, Chris Wood is a late arrival like Raddy.  Their only injury doubt is the spectacularly named striker Jeronimo Neumann.  Trippier and Jeronimo – we can’t compete with player names like that!

Anyone who made a March trip to Oakwell last season will recall a fairly uninspiring game which the Tykes won thanks to two Bogdanovic strikes (and the hapless Kevin Friend for disallowing a late Earnie equaliser!).  Bogdanovic of course has moved on, but former Reds forward Andy Gray may well feature so there’s someone to look out for.

Ultimately Barnsley are a decent team – but not on a great run, their last four games haven’t brought a win.  Forest are a decent team on a mediocre run which we can tart up as unbeaten – but there’s too many draws in there.  It will be fascinating to see how the two week break impacts on both these runs.. you’d like to think that Forest could get the points, but I think that most weeks!

A couple of non-preview bits worthy of mention too – commiserations to the family and friends of Eddie Baily, a former Forest player who passed away yesterday in London at the age of 85.  An inside forward who won the league with Spurs in the early 50s before moving on to Forest via Port Vale.  Rest in peace, fella.

And on a lighter note – those of you heading to The Approach in November to see Crossley, Robertson and Sheridan can start your night with an absolute bargain – present your ticket to the evening at The Cross Keys and you can claim two main meals or gourmet burgers for the price of one.  So eat in style then watch two of the most popular ‘Evening With’ guests (and the bonus of John Sheridan!).


Bennett, Bennett, knock him out!

I’ve had itchy keyboard fingers (so to speak) for ages now – with no football that interests me thanks to the international break I’ve been resisting the urge to write about nothing for the sake of occupying my mind.  So typical, that just when the end is within sight and we resume action at the weekend an absolute gem (although undoubtedly blown out of all proportion) of a story has popped up in The Sun today.

It involves Julian Bennett – currently on loan gaining match fitness at Crystal Palace – and Dutch legend Edgar Davids.  Apparently in a training game Benno had a snipe at the midfielder for giving the ball away, which prompted an epic hissy fit from the veteran culminating in him grabbing hold of the Reds defender and shouting “I’m the boss around here!”

Anyone who has played football at any vague level of competitiveness will know that it’s perfectly normal – nay – expected for teammates to spur one another on, be it by praise for a good performance or a grumble for something below par.  That goes for on the training ground or on the pitch – indeed, you would think after costing Palace a goal with a wayward pass the other week Davids would be keen to stay sharp on this (that said, the ‘incident’ supposedly happened a couple of weeks ago, so perhaps Benno was more prophetic than building on criticism for that game).

That said, it’s probably not the scandal the Sun make it out to be – Bennett criticised him, he reacted – I imagine on training grounds up and down the country these things happen without comment, perhaps the fact it was such a high profile player that makes the story deemed worthy of publishing.  Certainly it shows that Benno still retains his fierce desire to win, even in training.  Whether or not Davids would really utter the words “I’m the boss around here” when he’s on a pay-as-you-play I leave open to speculation!

Speaking of Julian, I’ve half-heartedly kept tabs on his time at Palace and he seems to be making a good impression on the whole.  His opportunities in the side are limited largely due to his lack of fitness/match practice but he is getting run outs and doing okay, which is great to hear.  Hopefully as his match fitness builds he’ll be able to get more regular and consistent appearances in for the Eagles.

Best of luck to him regardless, be it on the training ground or on the pitch – it’s good to see him back in action after such a horrendous injury.  I’ve got a lot of time for Jules and still hope to see him back in a Forest shirt when he’s fully fit (check out his website to see what he’s been up to whilst out of action – and not least to relive that bloody awesome goal he scored against Yeovil on the day we secured promotion back to the Championship).

An evening with Big Norm, Robbo and… Sheridan?!

The Approach is back with an evening of entertainment in November – two of the most highly rated speakers are on show in Mark Crossley and John Robertson (presumably entertaining himself whilst out of work!), and for a bonus the fleeting Reds player John Sheridan is also on the bill to make it a trio of guests for Darren Fletcher to compere on Thursday 4th November.

Big Norm has done a couple of nights before and has always been an absolute smash hit with Reds fans, I’ve always seemed to miss out on him so I’m really looking forward to this.  He is working on an autobiography due out next year which promises to be a no-holds barred account of his career – warts and all.

Robbo is also known to be a bit of a show-stealer on these occasions, and of course he is an undisputed complete-and-utter Forest legend.  It will be interesting to see who can win the battle of the entertainer between him and Norm, although I can confidently guess which will have the bigger queue of misty-eyed middle-aged men following them around for autographs (or indeed, who will go for the most cigarette breaks!).

As for Sheridan, his time with the Reds may have been brief – but of course, any insight into time under Brian Clough is always readily hoovered up by Reds fans, but perhaps the most story-rich period of his career will be his time playing for the Republic of Ireland under Jack Charlton, not forgetting he is currently manager of Chesterfield.

It should be a fun night!

You can book tickets online by clicking here, or pop into The Approach and pick yourself up a ticket for just £13.  Or for £35 you also get a three course meal with full waitress service.  Click the small flyer for a full sized version with all the details you should need!

Additional: If you fancy a bargain meal before you head over to The Approach, if you present your ticket to the event at The Cross Keys you can get two Main Meals or Gourmet Burgers for the price of one.  It’s decent locally-sourced nosh cooked freshly, so grab yourselves a bargain!

Well, at least we didn’t lose..

Doncaster Rovers – 1
Nottingham Forest – 1

I suppose we should be happy with a draw really given our recent forays at the Keepmoat Stadium.  Indeed, given the balance of play and chances, we should be grateful irrespective of recent trends at this particular ground.  Frustrating though that we let in another sloppy goal (okay, we scored one too) – but all in all, a good point I’m thinking.

We remain in eleventh place, and all in all, it’s not too bad.  Despite Billy describing us as ‘leggy’ on Tuesday he elected to go with the same side for the third game in a row, which is quite unusual – and perhaps for the second time in a week he might be ruminating on whether or not he perhaps should have injected some fresh faces into the starting eleven.

Gunter    Morgan    Chambers    Bertrand
Anderson    McKenna    Moussi    Cohen

The early exchanges were fairly inconsequential, it was the home side that eventually got close with the ever-dangerous Billy Sharp finding Woods who’d got the wrong side of Morgan, fortunately Guy Moussi was on hand to make the block at the expense of a corner.  Donny had posed plenty of warning and finally were starting to find ways through the Forest defence.

We did come to life though, Lewis broke forward and crossed towards Dex, who couldn’t get the ball under control to fire a shot and eventually had to settle for a corner.  From the corner Anderson knocked the ball to Lewis who struck powerfully from the edge of the area forcing Sullivan into a decent save.  Which was inconsequential as the offside flag was up!

Just as we were starting to show signs of recovery we took the lead – Donny had had more possession but the Reds were looking dangerous.  We won a corner which was taken by McKenna to the far post, Anderson headed it back across goal, Moussi repeated the exercise from the other post finding Blackstock a yard out with seemingly all the time in the world to fire home from close range.

Alas, just as we were reflecting on the awful defending for our goal – we gifted them a goal in return.  A dubious freekick was awarded to the home side and Forest didn’t get themselves set for it at all, Oster took it quickly finding Lockwood strolling merrily behind the Forest defence to head the ball past Lee Camp who could do nothing.  Very reminiscent of the goal Sheffield United scored against us.

The Reds put together their best move just before half time, a sweeping move from midfield saw Dex and Anderson combine to get the ball forward to Lewis, he unleashed a decent left footed shot from a good position – which was saved by Sullivan for a corner.  Lewis could’ve passed it on to Cohen but well, I think most players would’ve taken a shot.

As the second half got underway it was ebbing very much with the home side – Morgan allowing Sharp to cross to Hayter whose header was only just wide.  Sharp again was at the centre of our troubles, turning deftly to get beyond Morgan but seeing his shot blocked by Chambers.  Cohen and Bertrand picked up tame bookings as the home bench and fans seemed to appeal for everything and the ref generally gave it.

With around twenty minutes gone Cohen had had a nasty collision with Adam Lockwood and was withdrawn for Tyson, holding his shoulder/arm gingerly.  Tys was immediately in the thick of it, getting on the end of a fortunate run of the ball and getting a shot in forcing a corner from a good save by Sullivan.

The substitute was again close from a freekick, striking it low and powerful across the face of goal, with Chambers at the front of a pack of Forest players trying to get a touch to convert it to a goal.  The game descended to real end-to-end stuff as both sides, to their credit, kicked on to try to get the full three points.

An awful clearance from the Moose fell invitingly for Mark Wilson whose drive looked to have given Doncaster the lead but crash off the crossbar.  At the other end McGoldrick, on for McGugan, turned and shot but it was fairly tame and an easy save for Sullivan.  Another good opportunity came with a number of Reds in the box but Anderson’s cross let us down.

Third sub Dele appeared to have given McGoldrick a good opportunity but some good defending denied him the chance – it was the home side that would have the final say, and Billy Sharp is probably still kicking himself now.  A delicious cross from James O’Connor found the striker on the back stick whose header headed toward the top corner, but just wide.

All in all, a draw was probably borderline good result, borderline we should be pleased to have it – underpinned with that slight annoyance that we did have the opportunities to grab what probably would have been an undeserved win.  D’you know what, I could have lived with that!

Billy was downbeat about our first half performance and the manner of concession – and talked again about being ‘leggy’ (so why not change it, Bill?) – he didn’t say much about loan signings, but as with us was pleased that we had the international break to get some clearly needed rest into the players.  I’m anticipating a quiet couple of weeks on the blog!

How a football parasite chooses his host..

Of course, whether or not loveable buffoon and cash-hoover Sven Goran Eriksson ends up resuming his trail of farcical interactions with midlands football teams remains to be seen. Paulo Sousa bit the bullet after an admittedly disappointing start to his Foxes stewardship, with City at the bottom of the Championship after nine games.

Martin O’Neill too inevitably features on the rumour mill as he does here too, shortly after he left Villa he was supposedly about to supplant Billy. Of course, many Reds fans harbour a desire to see him and Robbo return to the club – as for me, I’m quite happy with Billy, and stability.

I don’t trouble myself with goings on down the A46 very often but well, things might just be getting interesting at the Walkers Stadium…

Doncaster Rovers vs. Forest preview..

The Keepmoat – surely my least favourite away trip, whilst the state of Belle Vue gave Donny every need to renew their home, I can’t bring myself to like new grounds, coupled with the traffic trying to escape the place and – of course, perhaps most importantly – the fact we don’t seem to be able to get either a performance or a result whenever we visit there!  Other than that it’s fine!

Forest are likely to make changes to their line-up, although with Rovers being very much on the passing-side side of the footballing spectrum perhaps a similar tactic to that deployed so well against Swansea might not be a bad plan.  I would expect to see Wils come in for Chambers who had a shaky night on Tuesday, Earnie remains sidelined so suspect Dex will be leading the line.  Or perhaps Adebola after an impressive turn from the bench midweek?

Our hosts have a few defensive injuries, with Martis the latest player to join Chambers and Thomas on the treatment table – aside from that Sean O’Driscoll has no other absentees.  Doncaster have lost their last two games – both away from home – at QPR and Coventry – and haven’t won in their last three.

They have the same number of points as us, but a poorer goal difference – but of course, as we well know from our many encounters with the South Yorkshire side over the last few years – they’re not to be underestimated.  Coppinger – a winger I’ve oft wondered whether we should make a move for – is their top scorer with four goals so far (admittedly three of which came in one game).

Billy Sharp is someone who generally does well against us too, netting against us in both fixtures last season and indeed, someone who has been a thorn in our side regardless of which shirt he’s wearing!

It’s good to hear positive words from Billy prior to the match, and indeed – that the ‘hoodoo’ of a trip to the Keepmoat is in his mind too whether he buys into that kind of thing or not.  So a freshened up team, eager to prove our hosts don’t have some kind of hold over us – sounds promising, doesn’t it?

Certainly that trudge through the swamp to get to the coach parking area would become no chore at all if we get to see us claim three points.  I think there’s a reasonable chance of that, but Billy needs to tactically out-think O’Driscoll and the boys need to perform – and, dare I say, it’s about time the strikers started weighing in with some goals, too…

I’m hopeful of this, but can’t help but fear the worst as has been my conditioning from those unprofitable trips up the A614 in the past, but I do have faith in Billy to pull something out the bag.  Here’s hoping!