Thank you very much for six points, Cardiff!

Earnie pulls the trigger...

Nottingham Forest – 2
Cardiff City – 1

A great way for the Reds to bounce back from the mid-week disappointment at Scunthorpe with a rip-roaring win against fellow promotion-chasers Cardiff City.  A really open game in which both sides carve out opportunities was eventually decided by Robbie Earnshaw’s second half strike after Cardiff had levelled Wes Morgan’s opener with a penalty that should never have been given.

Many stand-out performances from the Reds – Lee Camp made two excellent saves, Konchesky had another solid game at left-back and also cleared one off the line, the centrebacks held firm against the not inconsiderable attentions of Bothroyd and Parkin, you would hardly have noticed Bellamy on the pitch which is testament to Gunter’s endeavours.

McGugan had one of his hardest working and most influential performances in a while, McKenna and Cohen both battled like troopers, Anderson had his best game in a while – Tudgay won more than his fair share against Cardiff’s larger defenders and Earnie finally netted after looking dangerous all game – a realteam performance, and really tough to pick a man of the match.

Gunter    Morgan    Chambers    Konchesky
Anderson    McKenna    McGugan    Cohen
Tudgay  Earnshaw

And that is probably the story of the game for me –  our visitors undeniably have the kind of players many sides envy, but didn’t seem to gel as a unit unlike the boys in Red who worked hard to get a deserved win.  A decent following from Wales was pretty quiet – aside from pre-match largely singing about the miner’s strikes, and after they scored of course.

It was only five minutes into the game when we had the ball in the net – when Anderson was put through and he unselfishly found Earnie who finished well from close range, only to have celebrations cut short by a fairly late flag from the linesman – looked like the right call though.  A pity that the more confident Ando who would develop as the game went on, as he might’ve had a pop himself.

An open game this would be, though, and the next opportunity was for Cardiff, with Bellamy finding a bit of space to have a shot which game saved diving to his left.  On the attack again Tudgay found Earnie well with a header but the number ten fluffed his lines to waste the opportunity.  Probably the chance of the game so far came for Bothroyd who should really be scoring, but Camp was out quickly to make the save.

From the resulting corner the ball fell to Bellamy who struck a decent shot from range, it had the beating of Lee Camp who’d punched it out from the corner, but Konchesky was on the line to clear the danger.  We had three good opportunities from deliveries into the box, Chambers had two headers and Earnie one from close range where – whilst not easy chances – should perhaps have been finding the target.

After a quick break one-time Forest target Peter Whittingham would’ve perhaps counted himself unlucky with a cracking long-range strike that looked to have had Camp beaten but was also just off-target.

Our goal came from a corner forced after a decent move by the Reds, it was taken by Lewis McGugan who found Wes Morgan’s run around six yards out to plant a powerful header into the top corner of the net to give the Reds the lead.  There were complaints towards the referee after the goal, I’m not sure why – I certainly didn’t see anything other than bad marking by the Cardiff defence!

This really picked up Forest who enjoyed long spells of possession – indeed, I’d love to have counted but after Olofinjana had given the ball away Forest passed from side to side involving most of the team before finally crafting a chance when Anderson knocked it in to McGugan in the area, whose left-footed finish hit the top of the crossbar.  It would have been some goal!

The last action of the half was a corner to the visitors but Camp was on hand to claim well in a crowded box.  So at half-time it was all smiles, the Reds were up and looking confident – it’s true the visitors had opportunities too, Parkin and Bothroyd in particular arguably should have done better with opportunities that presented themselves, but well, they didn’t!

After half time was over the game started at a frenetic pace that saw both sides wasteful in possession.  Eventually the kind of open and attacking game we’d enjoyed in the first half started to resume, a decent effort from McNaughton was saved by Camp, whilst a cross whipped in from Gunter on the right was just too far infront of Earnie.

A McGugan freekick was bloody close after Keinan had hacked down Tudgay, whilst at the other end a  strike from Olofinjana saw Camp needing to be alert to make the save.  Then came the nonsense from the referee – which I need to see again, at the time I’d just said “Fantastic tackle by McKenna!” as he took the ball cleanly, the official site claims the alleged offence was by Gunts – and he was booked as Forest players crowded the referee to ask what the hell he was playing at.

That no Cardiff players or fans appealed at the time of the ‘incident’ speaks volumes.  After the complaints had died down Peter Whittingham spotted the ball up and despatched it into the bottom corner, sending Camp the wrong way – which did at least spark some noise from the numerous but disappointingly quiet away following.

It threatened to spark the visitors into life too – substitute Jay Emmanuel-Thomas hit a powerful strike from 25 yards which moved horribly in the air and threatened to wrong-foot Camp who made a good save with his legs.  We were back on the break though, and the referee waved play-on after McGugan was scythed down leaving Anderson to feed the ball through to Earnie who blasted it under Heaton and into the goal.

Whilst he didn’t exactly look unhappy Earnie spared the fans of his former clubs his customary flip – always a nice thing to see, I think.  With around 70 minutes gone McGoldrick was introduced for Tudgay, and later Tyson came on for Earnshaw.  It was a still an entertaining and open game at this point, but with little direct chances created by either side.

We should have had it sewn up though when Tys won the ball in an excellent challenge with their right-back and burst forward, with McGoldrick and McGugan getting up with him we had three men against one defender – but Tys opted for a right-footed shot rather than squaring to his colleagues for a tap-in.  It was a decent shot, and it was well-saved, but dear me! It’s a good job we held on!

Cardiff had one last main attack really but a foul by Olofinjana on Camp gave us the opportunity to take the pressure off, Adebola was introduced but despite the natural feelings of tension in a game where there’s only a goal in it in stoppage time, Forest were never really under any great pressure and saw the game out in a reasonable amount of comfort to claim all three points.

A great result by the boys – and with results panning on remarkably well elsewhere it elevates us back to second place, with our visitors dropping to fourth behind third-placed Swansea who chalked up a win today.  Not long to wait ’til Preston come to visit on Tuesday either – they came back from a goal down to hold QPR to a draw which was another good result from our point of view, so they’re not to be taken lightly…