Groundhog day..

Nottingham Forest – 0
Doncaster Rovers – 0

A frustrating afternoon, for sure.  Whether it justified the booing at full time I would question, making a disappointing performance on the pitch compounded by an equally disappointing reaction from some of our ‘supporters.’

Once again we are left with the bitter-sweet realisation that quite a few other results went rather well for us, soured by the fact we didn’t capitalise.  Of course, Norwich and Cardiff have yet to play their games this weekend yet – so we could yet end up falling further by the promotion wayside.  However, as Billy said post-match, despite everything we are still in a very favourable position.

Billy made a few changes after Tuesday’s disappointing slump at the Blades, introducing McCleary for a rare starting berth, Majewski and Earnshaw started – with Anderson and Adebola moved to the bench, McGoldrick not in the squad at all…

Camp
Gunter    Morgan    Chambers    Konchesky
Cohen    McKenna    Majewski    McCleary
Earnshaw    Tudgay

Despite my residual grumpiness, it was a pretty good start for the Reds.  They pressed forward and made Donny look very uncomfortable – but, in what was to be a recurring theme, they couldn’t convert possession in the final third into a decent opportunity to test the visiting goalkeeper.  On their rare forays forward Donny were restricted to long range efforts – but at least they were getting shots in!

Forest were passing the ball around quite well early doors – Tudgay played the ball to Gunts who was haring down the right, he put in a delicious looking cross which McCleary couldn’t get on the end of.  Really I would’ve expected a striker to be in there somewhere.  McKenna played the ball through to McCleary but he couldn’t get his cross past his marker.

Donny started to come to life a bit more as the half hour mark approached – a long range effort from Wilson as just over, and amusingly a chunk of the visiting fans thought they’d scored when I thought a freekick quite clearly went over.  It certainly gave the home fans a welcome diversion from the increasingly nullified game by occasionally apeing the cheering after random incidents in the game.

Our first of very few shots on target came with about ten minutes to go before half time – and to be honest, it was never likely to yield a goal.  Majewski struck the ball from a way out, and it looked a fairly routine stop for Woods to make.  Arguable a better chance fell for Tudgay, a decent ball from Konchesky in to him on the D saw him get a good connection, but missed the target – and he really should’ve done better.

At the end of the half we were gifted a great opportunity – a miss-kick from George Friend fell very favourably for Earnie, but Woods was very quick to come out and close down and rather than slip the ball under the ‘keeper  he went for power, and Woods was able to get a very good save in.  After this Earnie oddly ended up sitting down by the half way line before eventually going off, looked like a hamstring injury.

We weren’t able to get Tys on despite him being stripped and ready before the half time whistle.  So we were drawing, we had undoubtedly had the best of the first half, but really struggling to break down a mostly-well-organised Donny side – compounded by our own lack of craft and movement in unlocking that final opportunity to get a decent effort in on goal.

So the second half started with the introduction of Nathan Tyson to replace the injured Earnshaw, and frankly, that was probably the most interesting thing to have occurred.  We seemed intent on giving the ball away for ten minutes, whilst Donny were content to sit – it wasn’t ’til Chambers took matters into his own hands, and when he had nobody to pass to he just took the ball forward and looked a bit confused to end up at the edge of the area and having a shot which ultimately won us a corner.

Kris Boyd replaced Majewski on the hour, with Tys moving more to the left, but the game was really still very stagnant.  Donny had another effort from range, this time from Mason which was just wide and certainly looked to have the beating of Camp.  Billy put on McGugan for Tudgay to try to inject some creativity into proceedings, I would have been inclined to replace McCleary who was looking a combination of out-of-depth and unconfident.  Then again, Tudgay looked tired.

The changes didn’t seem to do much in our favour, though, it was Donny again capitalising on our poor retention of the ball and Mason again shooting from range – and fortunately for us – not hitting the target again.  At the other end another decent cross from Gunts found Tyson, but he couldn’t get his header on target.  McCleary was starting to get more into the game too, and a powerful effort from a tight angle was cleared off the line by Hird.

With time running out the Reds were trying to create but labouring, finally Lewis did really well and got the ball to McCleary who had time to take out a cigar, smoke it whilst contemplating his opportunity, adjust his monocle and perhaps even indulge in a little snooze before calmly slotting his chance into the net.  Alas, he bumbled controlling it and by the time he shot it was blocked well by Friend, and out for a corner than inevitably led to nothing.

Coppinger got on the end of a counter-attack but dragged his shot wide – after that Forest actually started to look like they were playing with a sense of urgency, a Cohen cross was unconvincingly punched clear by Woods preventing Tys getting on the end of it, and Boyd should have opened his Forest account after a good Tyson break down the left, he held it up well waiting for reinforcements to arrive and played it neatly to Boyd on the penalty spot – unfortunately he totally missed the ball!!

That was pretty much it – it was a disappointing afternoon’s work from the boys for sure, because whilst they had their moments, Donny looked there for the taking today – which isn’t surprising given their injury situation.  A few people remarked in the first half that “if we can get an early goal here we could have a rout”.  Credit to Donny, they defended well and harried in midfield, and certainly I think they were good value for a draw.