Ruddy hell!

Poor defending costs the Reds the lead...

Norwich City – 2
Nottingham Forest – 1

The Reds couldn’t perform the unexpected and get anything out of Carrow Road, with Norwich overcoming the early fluke opener from Tyson to score two – the first inevitably by Grant Holt – and hold on to maintain their leading position.

In many ways this game was a microcosm of Forest’s season – the Reds played okay, they created opportunities – but, crucially, they didn’t take them.  It’s a familiar tale!  Whilst Norwich created slightly fewer chances but buried two, indeed, three – one was, as it turns out, wrongly chalked off for offside.

Both sides took to the field donning black armbands as a mark of respect to the victims of the Hillsborough Disaster, which unfolded of course 22 years ago on the 15th April.  As for the line-up, Billy continues to surprise us with his selections, and he went something like this – with the usual midfield fluidity (or disorganisation? 😉 )

Moloney    Morgan    Morgan    Konchesky
Boyd    Tyson

The Reds started really positively, taking the game to Norwich and really early it bore fruit with a really surreal goal.  Tyson got away from Whitbread and closed down John Ruddy quickly, who I thought ought to be picking the ball up (having subsequently seen the replay I can sort of see why he didn’t).  Instead he spannered the ball against Tys which ricocheted into the net.

Norwich answered pretty quickly though, and of course it was Grant Holt.  A freekick was whipped in by David Fox, as it crossed the six yard area I don’t think it unreasonable to consider why Lee Camp stayed rooted to his line rather than claim it, and you can definitely put big question marks over Guy Moussi’s dealing with Holt.  He basically made a steady base for him to maintain his leap.

Forest continued to labour forward though, and did create opportunities – Lewis had a chance for the spectacular, after Kris Boyd was bundled over but he could only put the ball over.  At the other end Surman was looking dangerous and had one chance from the edge of the box which he put wide.

Great work from Lewis McGugan down the left saw him wriggle past a couple of defenders and burst into the box at a tight angle, he powered it goalward and a combination of Ruddy and a goal-line clearance from Whitbread got it clear.  Meanwhile Norwich exploited the Reds shambolic defensive line when Hoolahan played Simeon Jackson through, fortunately Camp was alert enough to make the save.

A lovely move from Forest saw McGugan beat his man in the box, shape to shoot but instead pull the ball back for Moussi.  Moussi’s effort looked for all the world to give us the lead back but guttingly came back off the post with the goalkeeper beaten.  In the meantime Boyd appeared to have fallen awkwardly on his ankle, but he pushed on regardless.

I forget the exact running order of events, but I’m sure it was around this point that Norwich had a goal disallowed.  Simeon Jackson timed his run – it turns out – to perfection, picks up a throughball and finishes well into the bottom corner of the net.  For us the saving sight of the linesman’s flag to redeem us and keep the game equal.  Having seen it now a few times it was a very close call, but he was onside.

They were quick to get over that disappointment and get one that counted though.  Moussi again a little culpable – it looked like he’d left his man for Moloney, who had stepped elsewhere.  That man was Surman, who found himself in a wonderful position to receive the ball from Jackson, bear down on the advancing Camp and lift the ball over him and into the net.

Forest continued to attack too though, Tyson took the ball down the left and crossed towards Moussi, but Tierney was on hand to block the opportunity.  An opportunistic long ball almost found McGoldrick who couldn’t control it ending up well wide.  Boyd was struggling and as half time drew to a close he was replaced by Tudgay.

The second half saw Norwich in much more dangerous looking mood – Surman again had the beating of Moussi  but his shot was off-target, the impressive Jackson had an effort well cleared by Camp.  McGugan again was providing our creative outlet, he found McGoldrick again whose efort from 20 yards went well wide.

With only four minutes gone in the half the clearly-struggling Moussi was withdrawn for Chris Gunter to play in midfield, and try to marshall Surman a little more effectively.  It sort of worked, it seemed to stablise us somewhat and eventually we did manage to start to put some pressure on the home side.

Norwich reverted as the game wore on to a more defensive position, content to hit us on the break – understandably.  A cross in from Konchesky caused some confusion in the box, the ball fell for Tys who had more time than he realised – he snatched at the opportunity and predictably spannered it over and wide when he really should’ve done better.

That was to be Tyson’s last action, he was withdrawn moments later for former-Canary Robbie Earnshaw with a little over a quarter of an hour left on the clock.  Norwich started to press again though, and only a late intervention from McKenna prevented Holt from getting a close-range shot it.  At the other end a quick break culminated with a Gunter strike which fizzed just wide.

Late on McKenna crossed into the box but Earnie couldn’t find enough wriggle room in the crowded Norwich area to get a shot away, whilst we had Konch sent off, he’d been booked earlier for complaining too much to the linesman after Norwich’s second goal, and subsequently hacked down a home player giving the referee little choice but to issue the second booking.

There was a lot of stoppage time, and Forest ‘enjoyed’ a lot of possession, but threatened very little.  A frustrating evening, Forest made a good account of themselves – particularly in the first half – but our lack of killer-instinct infront of goal is alarming at times, whilst we must take our hats off to Norwich who took their chances especially well.

Now our fates are likely to be somewhat unrelated personally I’d like to see them hold on to that second spot rather than see Cardiff get it, whilst we must renew our energies into trying to usurp Leeds into a play-off spot, starting with the visit of the latest East Midlands Sven Circus on Friday.