Magic McGugan spares defensive blushes… AGAIN!

Watford – 1
Nottingham Forest – 1

Another draw on the road falls somewhere between the boundaries of good result and a slight disappointment.  Of course, such simple statements aren’t generally enough to summarise a whole game – yet another disappointing goal conceded doesn’t account for the chances the home side later spurned, but well, that’s the point of a match report isn’t it?

With only Kelv suffering from a back injury, Billy had near enough a full squad to select from –  and took advantage of this choice to make a few changes to the starting line-up, restoring both Earnie and Dex to the line-up with an unusual switch to a 4-4-2 away from home – could that spell something a bit more positive than usual on the road? It looked like this:

Gunter    Morgan    Chambers    Bertrand
Cohen    McKenna    McGugan    Anderson
Earnshaw    Blackstock

It took just three minutes for things to go wrong for the Reds, and it was another one of those goals.  They’re becoming all too common – a good cross from Danny Graham found Jordon Mutch, who had the absolute freedom of the penalty area to stroll into position and casually nod the ball past Camp from around ten yards out.  Deeply frustrating.

This early set-back didn’t exactly set the Reds going either – it was fifteen minutes on the clock before Forest started to click, Gunter finding McGugan but the midfielder lost the ball in an attempt to turn.  Lewis was again involved with an excellent ball to Earnie, but the striker was unable to pull the trigger to threaten the home goal.

In terms of recent attacks it was third time lucky, and it was magical McGugan again – Dexter found him lurking around 35-40 yards out, he took the ball in his stride, moved forward about ten yards before unleashing another stunning goal to go with his collection this season.  Goal number eight for the midfielder in just ten games.  We should really get him signed up to a new contract.

McGugan again was centre to things happening for Forest, and Dex should perhaps have done better when he was found on the edge of the area by Lewis – Scott Loach was able to get a block in to prevent him doing too much damage.  Ultimately the ball ended up out for a goal kick with the danger over.

Watford had the last say in the first half – Troy Deeney evaded Wes Morgan and brought a tremendous save from Lee Camp, although the ‘keeper was only able to rebound the ball into the danger zone so Gunter needed to be on hand to put in a block at the expense of a corner.  Camp flapped at and missed the resulting corner – fortunately Gunts again was on hand to spare his blushes on the goalline.

So half time, and a fairly fair 0-0 – both sides had had chances to advance beyond stalemate.  The most pressing concern though was a fire in the toilets of the away end – with a number of Forest fans being temporarily evacuated as smoke billowed out.  If it wasn’t the away end I’d consider being suspicious of an insurance job.

The second half did eventually get underway though – and it was high-paced to begin with.  The home side putting real pressure on the Forest area with a series of dangerous crosses that we managed to keep their forwards at bay.  At the other end McGugan tried another long range effort but put it just wide with Loach looking a bit panicked.  He even tried again – but again, just missed.

Earnie – who’d struggled to get the better of Watford’s beast of a centreback – was withdrawn for Tyson.  The Reds did have the odd chance though – Anderson did well to nod the ball back across goal but Dex couldn’t get it under control, a decent cross from McGugan was met by a Nathan Tyson diving header which was just wide.

Watford were still providing a serious threat on the break though, Graham was picked out by Mutch and it was a decent block from Chambers that prevented the prolific striker from geting a shot in on target.  Perhaps a negative move really, McGugan off for Adebola with Tys moving back into midfield.  With the likes of Raddy and McGoldrick on the bench it does seem a bit over-cautious.

McKenna put in a decent ball towards Blackstock who couldn’t get anything on it, and it bounced just out of range of Dele too, shortly after Tys found Cohen whose shot from the edge of the D really should’ve been hitting the target but went just wide.  The last break came to the home side – Sordell (on as a sub) wasn’t able to beat the Reds defence who scrambled it clear.

All in all, it’s a point away – that’s generally decent – but as ever we don’t seem to be able to match our home levels of performance on the road.  Watford are good side, but have been on a poor run – particularly at home – but factor in our own poor run on our travels and I suppose we were a similar match in terms of confidence.  So I can’t quite make my mind up between satisfied and disappointed – I’m somewhere in between.

Apparently Billy was interviewed before the game and still resumes the ‘we need to strengthen’ diatribe.  Whilst I agree with him, it’s getting a bit repetitive – and indeed, you would hope that the local journalists might think of something else to talk to him about.  Whatever his wants, Billy has more to work with than many in this league, and needs to start getting the best out of it.

Disappointed too to see that Lee Camp has shaved off his beard – although it was perhaps in poor taste that we’d started to refer to him as ‘the ripper’, so maybe it is for the best… I wouldn’t mind us looking like an archetypal mid-table side so much if Derby weren’t on such an impressive run at the moment, they’ve just gone 2-0 up against Portsmouth too as I type.  Bah.