A Weale-y good result!

The reds celebrate Paul McKenna's late winner

Nottingham Forest – 3
Leicester City – 2

Phew. That was close wasn’t it? A real ebb-and-flow game between two teams who looked largely like average Championship teams was decided when Paul McKenna’s fairly tame volley from just inside the box snuck it’s way under Weale (huh, huh, under wheel? geddit? pah!) to give the Reds the win.  A nice first appearance from Robbie Findley, too, which was a brucey bonus.

As I got to the ground a little early, it struck me the number of anti-Forest shirt printings amongst the away contingent.  A few anti-Derby ones too.  It’s quite touching.  It got me thinking – they’re obsessed with us.  They align ’emselves to fox hunting with that bugle-nonsense before matches – where they don red coats (and hunt with dogs – a nod to red dogs?).

Their cheese of note is called red Leicester, their service station on the M1 is called Leicester Forest East.  Hell, even their most famous export is named after one of our most famous number fours, one who was certainly a match for Lineker, who peddles them on TV.  It was quite amusing the hear Forest fans underline that we really only have eyes for the Sheep bothering ones this afternoon.

After the game too, caught in traffic near Meadow Lane there was a scrawny looking Leicester fan in handcuffs, whilst a crowd were being kettled by the police shouting vile things about Brian Clough at the queueing traffic.  Also singing a lot about shitting on the Red side of the Trent – assuming that’s south, that’s kind of inevitable when you live south of Nottingham you silly folk!

Anyhow, I digress before I get started!  I couldn’t decide before the game whether Billy’s selection was overly cautious or not, it looked something like this, with Paul McKenna as the most unlikely of right-wingers… McGugan played with quite a bit of freedom though and Tudgay spent a fair chunk of time back in midfield…

Moloney    Morgan    Chambers    Gunter
McKenna    Moussi    McGugan    Cohen
Tudgay    Earnshaw 

Leicester won the toss and elected to swap ends, to give us the sun to play into, meaning that Lee Camp opted to try to find some empathy with the away end by donning a baseball cap for the half.  He was active early doors diving quickly at the feet of Kamara before he was able to get a shot away and gathering the ball.

An initially dangerous looking run from Yakubu ended comically when the striker ended up just falling over for no apparent reason after running at a couple of defenders.  Forest slowly got into the game, the ball was knocked in towards Tudgay who chested it on to Lewis McGugan whose volley was comfortably over the bar.

McGugan turned provider on the fifteenth minute though, and it was a stunning cross from the right hand side, it was perfectly flighted for Tudgay to meet with his head and direct his header sublimely into the bottom corner of the net.  A lovely goal, would like to see a replay very much indeed!  It wasn’t a particularly powerful header from memory but the placement from Tuds made it a tough ask for Weale to save.

As Forest tend to do though, we didn’t cling on to a lead for very long – Moussi, very much in ‘headless chicken’ mode in the first half – he gave the ball away badly in midfield, managed to get back to the line to clear away a cross from Naughton, but it fell straight to Oakley, with nobody closing down he struck it hard and low, Camp got a strong hand to it, but could only palm it into the net.

Fox tails were almost certainly up, and it livened up the visiting fans to boot – Paul Gallagher and Ben Mee threatened down the left but the latter’s ultimate effort – whilst on target – wasn’t particularly tricky for Camp to deal with.  McGugan remained our only real tangible catalyst, a good turn and cross, but nobody on the end of it from the midfielder, allowing Weale to gather safely.

The half ground on very much in the mould of the first half against Burnley – two very average looking teams taking turns to give the ball away a lot really, and showing perhaps why their recent form has been fairly indifferent.  Half time certainly came as a relief to hope that Billy could inject a bit more urgency into the boys, as well as the chance to try to wake ourselves up a bit with a chat!

Forest had a good opportunity early in the second half, McKenna perhaps delayed for too long in releasing Earnie – he sent him too wide in the area, so whilst the striker got a reasonable shot in it wasn’t much of a save for Weale to make.  Hold that thought, though, of course – the Leicester keeper ultimately would decide the match by failing to make an even easier save late on!

Just as the boredom of the first half threatened to continue though, there was interest on the Forest bench as it looked like we might get our first sight of Robbie Findley.  That was consigned to the memory quickly, though – because McGugan had wriggled his way round a couple of defenders and hit a piledriver towards goal, Weale could only parry and Earnie was well placed to drill the rebound into the net.

Findley returned to the bench, whilst Forest did what they seem prone to and let in another goal.  At the time I didn’t really see what the freekick awarded was for, the Trent End seemed quite annoyed by it, but sure enough it was taken quickly, Camp flapped it out to Vassell who made no mistake from close range.  Disappointing!

This changed Billy’s thinking again on the tactical front, he opted instead of his original plan to introduce Kris Boyd for Tudgay, and only a few minutes later bringing on Findley for the hard-working Robbie Earnshaw.  Findley got a great reception from the Forest fans including the slightly cringeworthy but appropriately welcoming cries of ‘U-S-A! U-S-A!’

He was immediately in the thick of it too, racing onto a loose ball with Weale coming out of the Leicester goal, he got there first but couldn’t find the target – it could’ve been one hell of a start to his Forest career!   Rather than the fairytale debut storyline we’d been hoping for though, the winning goal would come from a more unexpected source.

A high ball in to the area was flicked on by Boyd, finding McKenna lurking at the edge of the penalty area – he didn’t exactly catch the volley with much power (understatement!!), which seemed to have caught Weale unawares as he let the ball agonisingly squirm under him at the near post, and remain prone on the floor, clearly gutted!

Forest actually managed to keep the ball in the corners and do reasonably well at it, much as I hate it.  A late injury to McGugan didn’t seem too bad as he walked off to be replaced by David McGoldrick – with little else to report, all in all, a cracking result if not a cracking performance – but good signs of resilience.

Of course, elsewhere today Reading travelled to Leeds – whilst they couldn’t get the win we wanted, by snagging a point it does allow us to retain the sixth place in the table we ascended to today.  On goal difference.  Goal difference of one.  It’s as tight as the proverbial gnat’s chuff!  Certainly Leeds’ remaining games will be of big interest to us as our own.

Some cracking action photos of the match courtesy of the (spit! sorry) Daily Mail.