Forest slip on Scunny-shaped banana skin..

Scunthorpe United – 1
Nottingham Forest – 0

Just as we dared get a bit hopeful with Cardiff dropping points against Burnley we’ve gone one worse and managed to come away from Scunthorpe with a big fat zero points.  Only one other team has managed to do that this season, so it’s a considerable achievement, and not one the boys will relish.  A very frustrating evening where a first half goal for the home side was enough to clinch the tie.

Of course, second place is still within our control – but with the not inconsiderable obstacle of Cardiff looming at the weekend, and tough fixtures thereafter, it’s certainly not going to be something we can achieve without some solid improvements on tonight’s efforts.  I’m trying not to be too negative because we’ve not had much by way of off-days lately – but boy tonight was one.

Given his restrictions a reasonably predictable line-up from Billy started this match, with Tyson in for suspended Raddy, and McGoldrick dropped in favour of Earnshaw:

Gunter    Morgan    Chambers    Konchesky
Cohen    McKenna    McGugan    Tyson
Tudgay    Earnshaw

Today started with quite good news, with Lee Camp being granted approval to play for Northern Ireland.  Despite the (I think at least half tongue-in-cheek) clamours for an England call-up, I can’t see that happening, so a good opportunity for our number one to get some International football, and the very best of luck to him as and when that call comes.

The evening less pleasing to contemplate than the daytime, a nice little unbeaten run brought to an end by a side who haven’t won on their own pitch since last August!  Still, if nothing else it adds to the competition in the lower reaches of the league where a certain club fairly close to us are casting a beady eye – indeed, if Scunny take heart from this win, then I wish them all the best in getting a second home win in a week when Derby visit Glanford Park on Saturday.

With the pleasantries out the way, on to the game.  On a difficult surface it was a reasonable start from the Reds, a Cohen corner looked to be in the danger area but was punched clear under pressure by Lillis.  Cohen again provided danger from a freekick, Lillis beat Tudgay and Earnie to the ball, but flapped it to Tys who contrived to put the ball wide from 12 yards with the goal gaping.

It was the home side that of course took the lead, as a cursory glance at the scoreline would reveal.  A break by Miller down the right resulted in a cross to Chris Dagnall who was able to bundle the ball over the line in spite of being closed down by Chris Gunter.  A disappointing goal to concede for sure, but still with plenty of time on the clock to try to make amends as Forest had shown a knack of doing in decent games.

Having said that, it was the home side who came close to doubling their lead with a smart volley from Josh Wright which brough a decent reaction save from Camp with a dive to the right.  Forest laboured to create much beyond a bit of pressure – the only real chance of note before half time fell to Earnie who wasn’t able to get his effort past the covering defender.

Very disappointing first half on a predictably terrible surface – but as people always say, both sides have the same pitch to play on, and we can hardly say that Scunthorpe have exactly been utilising their questionable turf to their advantage of late, can we?  With the hope of a ‘Billy rocket’ being detonated in the away dressing room the gathered Reds awaited the second half with no small degree of trepidation.

It looked like the manager’s incendiary device had indeed been detonated – the Reds came out the blocks well, Lewis did really well to give Michael Nelson the slip and put a dangerous ball right across the face of goal, but it was just too far ahead of both Earnie and Tudgay who couldn’t get a touch on it.

An excellent volley from Tudgay left Nelson almost sparked out with the physio called on, and another dangerous cross from McGugan was scrambled clear before Tyson could get on the end of it.  It was turning into one of those nights.  At the other end Duffy put in a dangerous freekick which Dagnall won in the air only to head just over the crossbar.

As time was starting to tick more loudly Forest did try to increase the pressure – a decent throughball from McKenna found Earnshaw who was denied by an excellent sliding tackle from Nelson.  Shortly after a shot from Tudgay took two attempts by Lillis to gather – even when the Reds were managing to craft chances they were being met by resolute defending.

With around 25 minutes left Billy introduced Dele and McGoldrick for Tyson and McGugan.  An odd call, as Lewis had been our main creative threat over the course of the game.  A lovely cross from Gunter found Adebola whose effort smashed into the crossbar and fell for Tudgay, but too awkwardly for him to control enough to get an effort on target.

Time was rapidly running out McCleary – on for Earnshaw – played a nice one-two with Cohen who then shot right-footed, beating the keeper but alas missing the goal, just over.  McGoldrick came close to bundling it in but for the intervention of Lillis, further goalmouth scrambles ensued but the home defence stood firm to claim a three points they need as desperately as us.

A really frustrating result.  Without wanting to be disrespectful to Scunny, you have to fancy your chances against a side who hadn’t won at home since August – equally, the pessimists amongst you might have sensed it as inevitable.  Having had the temerity to predict QPR might beat us on Sunday I erred on the side of optimism pre-match and was proven wrong, so maybe pessimism rules?

Having missed an opportunity to stake a serious claim for that second spot we now must contend with the visit of Cardiff City at the weekend.  Beat them and we overtake them, retaining our game in hand, and with Norwich facing a tricky trip to Leeds there might be another bite at that particular cherry.  Of course, despite their unconvincing form of late, Cardiff will be no pushovers.

Ho hum.  We never seem to make it easy for ourselves, do we?  The silver lining I’ve reaching for this evening (I’m also reaching for a nice bottle of scotch) is that at least our first defeat in a while hasn’t given any of our promotion rivals any points, as that’s the kind of double-whammy that really would be incredibly annoying, as opposed to just very annoying.