I can’t take many more afternoons like that..

Lee Camp leads the lads in a rendition of the haka..

Bristol City – 2
Nottingham Forest – 3

A real emotional roller-coaster is the life of the Forest fan – what looked to be an uncharacteristically comfortable victory was cast into considerable doubt after the home side’s revival after half time, only for a winner to arrive thanks to a looping header from Luke Chambers resulting in a tense final twenty minutes until the game was over.

With results elsewhere very favourable to our cause it’s given us a little daylight between us and the chasing pack.  Millwall and Burnley have both overtaken Leeds, who lost to Palace, and sit two points beneath us.  Sitting-on-laurels time it most certainly isn’t – although with results as they occurred, both our remaining opponents almost certainly have nothing left to play for.

Scunthorpe United now require two wins and an 18 goal difference swing to escape an all-but certain fate of relegation, where both Doncaster and final day opponent Crystal Palace could technically replace them in the drop zone.  The upshot is that both teams we have left to play have nothing left to gain or lose this campaign – I’m undecided whether it’s a good thing or not.

So, on to our game.  Billy made a couple of changes – taking Gunter back to the bench in place of Konchesky, with Kris Boyd coming in at the expense of Marcus Tudgay up front to partner Earnshaw:

Camp
Moloney   Morgan   Chambers    Konchesky
McKenna   Moussi    McGugan   Cohen
Earnshaw   Boyd

It was right from the off that the Reds broke the deadlock – or the whites I suppose, resplendent as we were in our white away kit.  A McGugan free-kick from 32 yards was well-struck, but spilled by David James, with Kris Boyd on his toes for the rebound and he sprung to power the ball into the net from close range to give us the lead.

In customary fashion Forest immediately attempted to gift the side we’d scored against an equaliser, Morgan the perpetrator as he gave the ball away to Jonathan Stead who thankfully for us missed the target.  After this wobble, Forest did actually look pretty good going forward.  A decent ball from McGugan found Earnie whose shot from 20 odd yards was blocked for a corner.

At our end we were under threat from Clarkson from a tight angle – Big Wes got himself in the way of it and eventually Konchesky got it clear.  The home side continued to threaten though, and if it weren’t for a fantastic challenge in the area by Cohen then Jonathan Stead would’ve had an excellent opportunity to make up for his earlier miss.

Half-time approached and the game slowed, until Louis Carey felled McGugan in the box as the midfielder took the ball past him.  Both Lewis and Boyd went to grab the ball, Boyd arriving first and staking his claim – before calmly stepping up and slotting the ball powerfully past David James for his – and our – second goal of the game pretty much on the stroke of half time.

The great thing about scoring on the stroke of half-time is that we can’t immediately gift our opponents a goal.  Or can we?  Well, it would appear we can, because a mere three minutes into the second half and we’d conceded a Marvin Elliott header at the back post after more Keystone Cop style defending putting the team and fans alike on edge.

At the other end Lewis struck a free-kick just wide, but Bristol City were to have more bite post half-time.  On the hour it was all level when Spence was given all the time in the world to pick out Stead with a cross, Stead’s header looked to have wrong-footed Camp who got something on it but couldn’t keep it out.

Billy made an uncharacteristically early substitution in response – Boyd was withdrawn and denied his chance of a hat-trick and replaced with Robbie Findley, and shortly after were back in the lead.  Certainly Findley is proving a lucky omen – taking to the pitch when level and ensuring we end up winning 3-2, that’s not a bad omen to have!

The goal came from a Lewis McGugan corner, he’s not been picking out Chambers of late – but this time he did, and the number four caught it very well, looping it into the top corner despite the defender on the line who looked like he might’ve headed it into the roof of the net.  Right infront of the Forest fans too, this inevitably caused absolute pandemonium.

It really opened up as a contest – Campbell-Ryce caused Moloney a bit of a headache, but the defender bested him at the expense of a corner before being withdrawn by Billy with Gunter coming on to replace him.  Soon after McGugan – who appeared to be carrying a knock – was withdrawn for Julian Bennett, with Konchesky pushing forward into midfield.

A Chambers challenge set up a promising position for the Reds, getting the ball to Findley who played a lovely ball across to Earnie who put his header off target.  Again the trinity of Chambers-Findley-Earnshaw combined and with the same result – Chambo’s tackle on Campbell-Ryce was excellent, Findley’s lobbed through ball delicious, Earnie’s rushed lob not only cleared David James, but the crossbar too.  Disappointing.

There was almost the what increasingly feels like an inevitable sting in the tail when Brett Pitman had an excellent opportunity only to end up volleying wide.  It seemed worse in stoppage time when the ball ended up in the back of the net for Bristol, but fortunately the referee was alert enough to have noticed the rather blatant hand-ball by Marlon Jackson, and booked him accordingly.

It was us that had the final chance, Konch did well to beat his man and pulled the ball back for Earnie who again was in a good position, but again his finish let him down allowing McAllister to clear off the line.  The game ended with pressure from the home side but no direct chances, so a tense finish ending with apocalyptic style celebrations from fans and players alike!

The least said about the idiot Bristol pitch invader the better – but I’d better at least mention him I suppose.  Silly lad.

All in all, a very timely and exceedingly welcome result – the continued leakiness at the back worries me immensely, although at this stage results certainly count more than performances, the last thing that we want leading into a potential play-off lottery is a leaky defence, as we’ve seen in our last two ‘performances’ in that particular tournament.

I’m very pleased though, and I’m looking forward to hopefully an opportunity to try to consolidate things at home against Scunthorpe.  Those of you umming and aahing about coming, come down and let’s generate a great atmosphere at the ground, I can’t imagine too many Scunny fans will be making the trip, let’s spur our lads on to victory.

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