Billy’s battlers becoming bottlers..

Forest unveil their new mascot: Banana man!

Sheffield United – 2
Nottingham Forest – 1

So, Sheffield United haven’t won since December – enter stage right, Nottingham Forest.  Whilst I’m not one to show disrespect to our opponents, this is another disappointing result for a team aspiring to attain promotion.  Another one.  On another day when we could’ve made up ground on some other teams at the top as a mixed bag of results elsewhere played out.

Indeed, on a night where we may have to reappraise our desire for automatic promotion and start hoping we can at least keep a foothold in the play-offs.  As it stands this evening, three points separates us in sixth place to seventh placed Burnley.  Seventh placed Burnley have two games in hand over us (which, as we know from bitter experience, does not necessarily equal full points!).

After today’s signing of Boyd, Billy opted to keep his new lad on the bench – and fielded what appears to be a team to try to play the Blades at their own game rather than play around them.  That’s not something we’ve proven particularly adept at in recent weeks, but benched were Raddy, Lewis and Earnie in favour of Dele, Goldie and McKenna in a line-up that looked a bit like this:

Gunter    Morgan    Chambers    Konchesky
Cohen    McKenna
Anderson   Tudgay   McGoldrick

Sort of.  As ever, formations vary – and to be honest, I’d describe ours as largely shapeless – but I’m second-guessing what the actual intention might have been.  It was a first half of few chances – a run from Anderson fed the ball to McGoldrick whose shot towards the top corner was just wide of the goal.

At the other end Sam Vokes teed up a shot for Daniel Bogdanovic lurking around the penalty spot which brought a save from Lee Camp.  The Reds spurned an opportunity when Dele won the ball in midfield, setting up a chance for McGoldrick who shot wide from the edge of the area.  They almost stung us with a good move down the right, Lowton crossing to Vokes who shot but was denied by Camp.

Meanwhile Tudgay became the latest Reds player to fail to hit the target – having chesting the ball down, controlling awkwardly and missing the target from 20 yards.  Then commenced the customary Brammal Lane hoof ball session which resulting in neither team creating much – ultimately the stalemate of frustration was broken by a home shot on target, but it was an easy save.

It was the Reds to take the lead, though – Paul McKenna made a good run down the right, fed it to Anderson whose cross found Dele with his back to goal, but the big striker managed to turn and shoot from six yards putting it under Steve Simonsen to give Forest the lead after 42 minutes.  Little of note occurred before half time, which left the Reds in a good position – 1-0 up and feeling rather chirpy.

We could’ve been chirpier still moments into the second half, a drilled cross by Chris Cohen was almost turned into his own net by Neill Collins, but fortunately for the defenders’ blushes it ended up just wide of the post.  A freekick for a foul on Cohen was struck tamely at Simonsen as the Reds struggled to try to build on their fragile one goal lead.

The home side started to get more into the match – Montgomery had an effort blocked by Wes, from the resulting corner Lowton connected with a header but put it over.  It looked like they would be back in it when Gunter brought down Bogdanovic in the area – the referee awarded a penalty which was taken by the fouled striker, but Camp made a smart dive to his left to prevent the goal.

A rare break for Forest saw Cohen get the ball through to McGoldrick who was a little too slow to pull the trigger to prevent Colins from diving infront of his shot to block it.  Kris Boyd was introduced for his Forest debut at the expense of goalscorer Dele Adebola, but it was to be a portent of ill-fortune for Forest, as minutes later we would concede the equaliser.

Lee Camp was quickly out to prevent Vokes doing damage from a Lowton cross, unfortunately it was a bit misjudged as the striker put the ball through his legs from six yards out to get the goal.  Bugger.  Billy withdrew McGoldrick in favour of McCleary to try to inject some creativity into the side – he soon put a decent ball in to the danger zone, but Montgomery was on hand to block it.

With ten minutes on the clock Sheffield United claimed what proved to be the winning goal – a disappointing one to conceded too.  A corner, a free header from six yards, a cracking header from Lowton into the top corner of the net.  A real kick in the proverbials, and worst of all eminently preventable by simply marking everyone at a set piece.  Very frustrating indeed.

Whilst Forest laboured to get back into it, and Boyd had one chance parried away by Simonsen, but ultimately the painfully familiar scenario of us trying to force a late chance resulted in the typical end-product we’re used to seeing.  Or rather, it didn’t result in an end-product, and of course that means we didn’t get the equaliser, and we lose whilst Norwich win, Swansea and Cardiff draw and ominously Burnley lurk below us, too close for comfort.

How fickle fate is treating us, from dreaming of perhaps pipping QPR atop the table we now find ourselves casting fearful glances over our shoulders at the chasing pack.  As many people point out, there’s usually a ‘drop out’ from the play-off picture, usurped by a surging run of form.  I must confess that, despite usually trying to be a positive character, I increasingly fear that ‘drop out’ will be us.

Certainly I’m not all doom and gloom at the moment, there’s still time to put things right but our run of results of late is undeniably concerning.  Particularly against ‘lowly’ teams (in league placing at least), which is why Saturday’s visit of Doncaster – you know, struggling-injury-ridden-Doncaster also has that increasingly familiar whiff of bananas about it.  Rotten bananas.

I can’t even eat bloody bananas now, I’m that fed up of slipping on the skins.

I hope Billy’s got a plan up his sleeve.  The very thing I love about this league, the competitiveness, the fact that anyone can beat anyone on their day, the number of teams still in contention to get promotion and all that jazz.  I’m starting to change my mind about it now, since we seem to be very much on the ‘being bitten on the arse’ end of these arrangements!

29 Responses

  1. We will be LUCKY to finish in the playoffs. Im glad i watched Arsenal Vs Barca instead. We are playing truly shite at the mo.

  2. Should I say once more that I disagree with all negativity? I hope we hang tough until the break, and then we will see who prevails with Tys, Moose and Lynch back (maybe Findley too). Yes, Burnley is closing by, but just take a look – just 2 points in our last 5 games and we are still just 4 points off automatic! Why should the dropouts be us? Why not Cardiff or Swansea? Are they doing any better at the moment?
    This turn reminds me much of the promotion season. Ten games before the end, we were fourth, with three losses and a draw in four games. We all know what happened next…
    Come on Forest, let’s do it again and silence all our critics…

  3. Okay. I have my knife and fork. Here are the words I’m eating.

    “Frankly, given the opposition, a clean sheet and at least 2 goals is the least we should expect.”

    I’m asking myself “WHAT THE HELL HAPPENED?”

    Campy saves a penalty (fantastic) but we then give away a free header in the box??? – have our back five been kidnapped by aliens and replaced by inept look-a-likes?

    We muster ONE goal. And precious few chances. Against a side who are the 21st best home defence in the league.

    We concede TWO goals against the side who have THE worst attacking record in the league with less than a goal a game on average – against all those mid table teams.

    It’s not as if the blunts have hit form. Their form is the worst in the entire division.

    We badly need to sort ourselves out – particularly in front of goal. I think automatic promotion is very unlikely (To expect BOTH Norwich and Swansea to score 4 points less than us in the next 10 games is delusional)

    We can still hit the play-offs – but need to recover our form. If the league was based on the last 6 games we’d be SEVENTEENTH for goodness sake.

    Really glad to see the injection of Boyd into the ranks of our strikers – I hope competition for places causes all of them to buck their ideas up. With the players we’ve got we really should be averaging more goals than bottom half of the table teams!

    Keeping everything crossed – and now chewing my nails.

  4. We will be lucky to make the play offs.
    Forest cannot handle the pressure
    We have lost to Scunthorpe Shef Utd drawn with Preston and Mboro
    This is not promotion or even play off form
    We have too many poor performers recentyly, Anderson. Tudgay Earnshaw Mcgoldrick Mcleary. Majweski
    We dont have a 15 to 20 goal striker (we had one who now plays for Norwich)
    I would be gobsmacked if we get anything against Doncaster or Swansea, come on you players prove us wrong

  5. We’ve just dropped 10 points against 4 of the division’s bottom 5 sides… that dressing room needs to sort itself out.

  6. Billy’s team selections away from home are often very defensive but this one seemed very strange. Playing long ball merchants at their own game with our two most creative players, including our top scorer on the bench and not even getting on?

    Remember about a month ago when we were very nicely poised for automatic with 2 games in hand over our rivals? Now we are nervously looking over our shoulders wondering if we’ll actually make the play offs. How quickly things can change in football.

  7. I agree with aylesbury red… Davies away from home has been poor.

    I give examples..(ive been present on this two ocassions)

    1. Scunthorpe away. It was obvious the only way of breaking down a team that rely on there 2 centre backs aerial ability was to hit the wings and keep our creative players on. He takes Mcgugan off!

    2. Sheff Utd away. He doesnt play mcgugan or majeski.

    If we play mcgugan and majeski for 90mins i believe we would not lose these games.

    I rate Davies highly but teams like Norwich and Leeds away from home gamble and go for teams. I think we should do the same quick or suffer similar fates.

    Remember how gambling away from home worked for blackpool……

    Roll on Saturday!

  8. Calling the team shit and the manager/ players useless is being negative. Stating facts and suggesting what is wrong is not.

    So…. we have only picked up 2 points against 4 sides in the bottom 5. Our top two strikers have scored combined as many goals as Lewis, who has since stopped scoring too. We are in no doubt a bad run of form and the players simply aren’t performing but its the same for a few others too (Cardiff and Swansea.) This is what makes it so frustrating. A win tonight and we’d be 1 point off automatic but that is slipping away because of the form we are showing right now.

    This season could go the way of last or even worse and not even a chance of playoffs or……… it could be a remarkable end of season party like we had under Calderwood. I firmly believe that in this league if we put together some decent results, that we know can happen, then anything is possible. We all thought we’d blown it then we won 6 out of the last 7 games.
    Keep the (blind) faith.

  9. Bit gutted tonight, thats about it really.

  10. I’m glad I could watch the Barca game while listening to the Forest commentary.
    Let’s hope for 3 points on saturday and get back to winning ways !!!

  11. I’m starting to get tired of this team’s shit performance and excuses. They had it in the bag for 32 mins to win it and be just a point behind 2nd & 3rd place, but they just THREW it away in only 6-7 mins. Even saving a penalty, which was brilliant, wasn’t enough. I mean, this is RIDDICULOUS. Losing against the 2nd worst team in the league, even after taking the lead. Before this, they lost to a team that had the worst home record in the league. This goes to show that anyone, just ANYONE, even a non-league team can beat Forest. THIS is a DISASTER, I tell you!

    I thought that at least tonight they could nick 3 points, but no. This time they get chopped down by the Blades. I’m frustrated and sick of seeing golden opportunities like this, when teams at the the top also slip, being THROWN away, stupidly. And then the excuses,… the players are tired, they’re fighting for their lives, and bla bla bla. Hell, even Derby can beat Sheff. Utd away, but Forest can’t even at home.
    Clearly, the way this team is playing shows that they are way behind what they were in Jan. I’m eagerly waiting to see another run like that, that would seal a place in the top 2, but now that chance is slowly slipping away.
    I’m afraid this team might struggle on Sat, and maybe even lose. I hope they prove me wrong though, and beat Rovers, Swansea (who are starting to slip after being on a high) and Leeds.They better get back to winning ways, before it’s too late. Or else, it’s a playoff semi-final defeat against Norwich this time, and another season in the Championship. I hope they prove me wrong though, and snatch automatic promotion with only 10 games to play.

    • So you already know our playoff opponent? Where did you buy your crystal ball? (lol)

      • Well, as it stands you guys are to play against them, unless there’s some thing like a playoff draw.

  12. Went to the game last night,and yet again team selection and formation beggers belief,the pitch was in great condition to play good football ,yet the plan seemed to be hump the ball to Dele then take it from there.the first half was a disgace from a team pushing at the top end of the table,it did not improve much in the second performance wise,the word clueless springs to mind.Pick your best 11 Billy and stick with it,all the chopping and changing and different formations in my eyes is Bollocks,442 pace on the wings 2 men in the box its not rocket sience,football is a simple game let the other side worry about what we have to offer.

  13. Team selection and tactics are killing us. No Raddy or McGugan and no Earnie up front !! These lads are not tired, they are our most talented players and unlike QPR we don’t play our best team week in week out. I do wonder if every member of the squad really wants promotion or are they concerned for their futures if we do go up. We need to play our best footballers all the time, play football on the ground and everyone to play with the commitment and confidence of Camp.

  14. Our current run of form is undoubtedly concerning, but lets not get carried away.

    10 games left and we are still right in the mix and fighting. It will only take one win to re-ignite the confidence and Doncaster at home is surely a game we can take 3 points from.

    U REDS!……

  15. Like I said yesterday there is discontent in the camp behind the scenes with players not sure of their future.I mean how can any club let 5 players contracts run down.Take Earnie for instance, cost 2.5mil from the sheep then his wages since he’s been at the club and they risk losing him for free (rough estimate of 4mil wasted on one player with no return) and ND is supposed to be a business man?We’ll finish tenth at this rate then what happens in the summer? Masssive clear out? New manager (Martin O’Neal for me please)?

  16. Rarely have I seen you so outspoken in a match review but I totally agree with your analysis.This is not promotion form and we the fans have to recognise that our squad isnt good enough to go up.

    They simply havent invested in good enough players to many middle of the road performers for me.The team looks burnt out and jaded and wont recover enough in time to gain promotion its the same bloody movie again.

    Thats what you get trying to gain promotion on the cheap and having a thin squad has stretched us too far.Oh well at least we dicked Derby twice.

  17. Havent invested in good enough players?you having a laugh Red Ric?These are the same players that up until scunthorpe were labelled as brilliant.

    Its a combination of fatigue and poor selection choices from Davies in my opinion. Playing his best team week in week out like QPR would do us good.

    Blimey Norwich have invested in Grant Holt and he aint great! But Norwich and Leeds have a go at teams home and away!

    This team is good enough, the players are good enough but by gambling a bit more it pays off!

  18. This is a serious question.

    Is Billy Davies that much of a self-conceited asshole that he would purposely jeopardise our promotion to prove his point about the squad not being good enough?

    Only reason I ask is simply the team put out last night. Also his substitution when he brought on McCleary and left what he had left on the bench is nothing short of a disgrace.

    I would like to know if anyone saw a deflated team out there when this happened. It sent out all the wrong messages, in my opinion, and there is no coincidence shortly after we’re losing.

    • I think you’re giving Billy far too much credit there. He’s not bloody Rasputin pal. What David said above is pretty much bang on I think. Bad form and poor team selections that don’t go for the win are why we’ve dropped down.

      They are all interrelated. The Bad form causes Billy to chop and change. The chopping and changing doesn’t help continuity and because of confidence slipping the sides play not to lose as opposed to going for the win. I suppose Billy is gambling in a way. He’s putting out teams that he thinks should win against bottom placed sides and trying to keep legs fresh in the best players for the the final run in. I can see the logic but its not paying off.

      As a player you’ve got to be thinking “how did this happen 3 weeks ago we were second and flying?”.
      Well it happens to all teams. What’s fortunate and frustrating is that its happening to teams around us too. They have to learn to play through it. I don’t believe for one minute that the players or Billy are conspiring so we don’t go up. Its too much of a nonsense and as if footballers individually let alone collectively are clever enough to think like that. Leave that to the politicians.

  19. In the last 2 transfer windows before this January break the Forest board did not invest enough in quality players FACT David.In fact they did nowt FACT

    Who termed our current crop of players as brilliant ?
    I certainly didnt other fans might have we have some good young players who on there day play some really attractive football.And some older heads like earnie and mckenna.

    I would love us to measure up at the moment but think we are still a good it short of promotion material.There is still a bit of a bottle problem in my opinion.However we have come a long way …

  20. When we were winning 6 games in a row pundits said we were a very good side. We dont go 36 games undefeated at home without having very good players.

    Its down to negative selections that has cost us. Earnshaw and Boyd up front for the rest of the season will show a sign of intent and lets go for teams.

    You telling me , Swansea, Norwich , Leeds have better players than us?Not a chance!… they just gamble a bit more.

    Billy Davies is a top manager but excuses have to stop now and lets GAMBLE and go for three points every week. ( which i expect davies to do when we return to saturday saturday once again).

    One final thing, Billy needs to stop taking Mcgugan off!!!!!!!!!!

  21. I listen to Davis quite intently David when he gets interviewed and most of the time hes spot on.Pundits and media will always bum teams up we are a good side that is maturing but we need more robust quality players to do what QPR are currently doing.

    I agree we need to go for the throat in games now like the Forest of old.Lets hope we can show that confidence eh…

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