Whoa, we’re half-way there..

Nottingham Forest – 5
Scunthorpe United – 1

We are so tantalisingly close to the play-offs.  So tantalisingly close.  I’ve seen a fair degree of chicken-counting already going on amongst Forest fans (why on earth were some singing about going to Wembley during the game today? why?!) – I’m not doing that just yet.  Sure, with a 3 point gap and a decent advantage on the goal difference over Leeds it looks tempting, but well, it’s not mathematical just yet.

But once the Scunthorpe resistance collapsed in the second half today was a thoroughly enjoyable afternoon, marred by an over-zealous piece of officiating seeing Robert Earnshaw picking up a second booking for the heinous crime of taking a free-kick too quickly.  It’s just a one game ban though, so the Welsh striker will be back for any potential play-off appearance we might make.

Billy opted to throw in a few curve-balls into his team selection again to defy prediction, Moloney’s recent cameos in the side came to an end with Gunts returning, and McGoldrick was afforded a starting berth:

Gunter    Morgan    Chambers    Konchesky
McKenna    Cohen    McGoldrick    McGugan
Earnshaw    Boyd

First things first was confirmation that Luke Chambers won player of the year from the supporters – a great accolade.  Personally I’d have put him second behind Lewis McGugan – but it’s clear that Chambo has had an excellent season, and capped off the home league campaign in style today with two goals for the Reds.

Forest did have the early pressure, but it was the visitors – resplendent in a truly horrible away kit – who had the first shot on goal, a shot from Duffy bringing a save from Camp and winning the away side the corner.  However, we took the lead when Earnshaw wisely ignored a throughball (for he was offside) leaving it for Boyd to run onto clear of the defence, and finish confidently past the onrushing Joe Murphy.

It was nearly two moments later, a cross from Gunter found Earnie whose effort was good, but Murphy was equal to it and made the save.  A little after a very uncharacteristic long range shot from Gunter looked goal-bound but for more good work from Murphy to keep it out.  We didn’t need to wait for too long though.

A Chris Cohen corner was perfectly flighted to find Luke Chambers on the six yard line, he planted a header goalward, which was headed off the line by Sam Togwell.  Certainly it looked to me to have crossed the line, and the linesman infront of A-Block agreed and indicated to the referee – there wasn’t much complaint from the away side.  Two nil, and at this point cruising.

Of course, when we look to be cruising that’s when we make things difficult for ourselves – and we started to let Scunthorpe have much more of the play.  Ramon Nunez – on loan from Leeds – was catching the eye, with a lobbed effort from 20 yards which had Camp uncomfortable and tipping over.  Moments later a poor back header from Konchesky almost let Grant in, but Camp was able to make a save.

The Scunthorpe pressure did pay off, Nunez had the ball and it appeared to me lost out in a shoulder-to-shoulder challenge with Gunter just outside the area – the referee deemed this not only a foul, but in the area too.  I wasn’t that well-placed though so the replay will be interesting, particularly since I’m convinced that Lewis McGugan most definitely was felled in the area earlier.

Anyway, I digress, Michael O’Connor stepped up to take the penalty and coolly blasted it into the top corner giving Camp absolutely no chance at all of making the save.  The remainder of the half was scrappy, with no real opportunities either way aside from a wayward cross almost wrong-footing Murphy but he was able to recover and clear.

Earnie went shoulder-to-shoulder with a Scunthorpe defender and was predictably out-muscled – it looked like a soft penalty shout to me (no more so than the one given to Scunthorpe, though!), but Earnie seemed to think otherwise and had some kind of ‘afters’ with the defender in question.  I’d watched the ball so didn’t see the specifics, but the referee booked him under considerable protest from the Scunthorpe players.

So, half time – what had looked routine was becoming more laboured, but it was certainly heartening to hear news filtering through that Millwall were a goal down against Swansea.  Unusually Billy made two half-time changes, taking off McGoldrick and McKenna and putting on surprise substitute Anderson and Moussi.  Ando recovered from two cracked ribs and a 20% collapsed lung thanks to Dirty Leeds.

Ando certainly looked lively too – he had netted within a couple of minutes!  McGugan struck a free-kick well into the box, Anderson was at the near post and initially tried an amusing attempt at a header, but was granted a second chance when the ball fell kindly for him to smash firmly into the net from a tight angle to restore the two-goal cushion.

From our point of view the game certainly picked up as we looked more positive – although we also looked susceptible to losing the ball carelessly too.  A cynical hack on Cohen after good work on the edge of the area (frustratingly as he was on his way out of the area!) saw us with a freekick.  Earnie claimed it and dipped one just under the bar but Murphy was equal to it and tipped it over.

Lewis was withdrawn, presumably to make sure our talisman remains fit and well, and Julian Bennett was introduced to a warm welcome from the Forest fans.  It was nice to see him back.  Konchesky moved to a more advanced role, with Bennett slotting in at left-back.  He was immediately swashbuckling down the left and won a freekick down the left.

Cohen delivered this to the far post where Chambers was on hand to bundle the ball over the line for his second goal of the game, and Forest’s fourth.  Another freekick to the Reds came with two minutes on the clock, the referee was faffing with the Scunthorpe wall and Earnshaw took the kick, putting the ball in the net, but the referee took umbrage and booked him for the second time, followed of course by the red card.

This was poor refereeing in my book.  Earlier in the game freekicks had been called back for being taken too quickly but without bookings, similarly the referee had booked one Scunny player for getting in the way of a freekick, then let another off the same offence later.  It’s the inconsistency that frustrates even though the referee was probably acting technically within the rules.

Anyway, once the furore had died down it was Kris Boyd who purposefully claimed the ball and smashed it through the wall and into the net to give us a fifth goal.  After a wait the squad and coaching team came out to do a quick lap to show appreciation to the fans and vice versa, always nice, and finally Billy took the mic from Mark Dennison to share a few cliches.

Millwall of course ended up losing 2-0, meaning only Leeds can catch us in sixth place, if they win at QPR next week and we lose at Palace, with a combined goal-difference swing of 6.  That’s quite a lot.  But it’s most definitely not ‘job done’ just yet.  Both Palace and QPR are playing for nothing next week, so will play without pressure or fear.  We of course could still nick fifth place.

21 Responses

  1. Great win today and much needed boost to goal difference. I don’t wish to have a pop and I admit I’m not one off Earnshaws biggest fans, but his sending off was self inflincted because he was havign a strop. Having nicked the ball off McGugan to take the free kick that the keeper saved well earlier, Boyd had nicked the ball off Earnie and was lining it up to take it. To me Earnshaw was not happy and decided to take it to stop Boyd doing so. Deserved al lhe got in my opinion. Otherwise some optimism returned today as we played some good stuff again at times.

  2. Looks like we are hitting form at the right time.
    I hope Wes gets a break before the play offs.. He needs one !.
    I’m quietly optimistic about our chances providing the concentration and positioning of our defenders gets sorted out !
    After last year I expect us to get to Wembley,but after that we shall have to see if our team can handle the pressure!!!

  3. Much much better by the lads a professional result and those goals should prove vital to get over the line
    we just need to be solid at Crystal palace and not give anything away then leeds will have to beat QPR by around 5 no way warnock wont allow that he hates leeds.

    Well done to chambers I must admit he has made me eat my words I never thought he had it in him hes maturing well good man.Also boydi showing a clinical edge thats what we have needed earnie has been very poor in my opinion of late.

    And why kick that free kick early he knows the rules totally selfish ? he needs to sort his head out before any potential big games .

    Lovin it that we have STUCK IT LEEDS i detest them.

    U reds

  4. Well done Forest and thankyou Leeds for making a right old mess of the end of your season!

    Not even in the squad yesterday were McLeary, Tyson, Finley, Majewski & Lynch and there’s also Garner to come back. That’s a strong squad!

  5. great result, you just never know !!!! can we do it ????
    can’t understand how Raddy is left out yet mcgoaldrought starts ! makes me wonder if there is a problem with Raddy…..

  6. Enjoy watching forest in the playoffs you leeds wankers ha ha ha ha

  7. This could well be our year ….no one has noticed our late push …even Claridge on the league show couldnt stop going on about Weeds and how well they played against Burnley ……. finally giving a passing sentence of recognition to Billy and the boys …well done lads
    just a draw at palace and bring on the Cardiff …….
    Boydy and Chambo immense yesterday –

  8. This is the umpteenth time I feel joyous posting here because I have kept the faith while some others were yelling at the team. No offense to anyone, my point is just that we Forest fans must learn to be positive. It was not fair to treat the team that has made us proud so many times this season the way some people did, not only here but in the City Ground too.

    But this is the first time I will act like a net hooligan too 🙂 , not being at the same time as cautious as my friend NFFC is. First time I have been fuming so much about a club’s (and referee’s) attitude towards us, but what goes around comes around, and perhaps there’s justice in this world after all. Now Leeds, take a good seat on your couch and watch us play in the play-offs! We both got what we deserved. Bye bye Simon Grayson, all you can do now is pretend to believe you’re going to beat QPR in London by like 5 goals, in front of an R’s full house celebrating promotion!!! Your tactics earned you no more than an early holiday. Enjoy it!

    Looks like we’re going to face Cardiff, huh? A club we beat twice in the regular season? Does this ring a bell with everyone? Come on Billy and the Reds, let’s do a Blackpool Nottingham-style!!!

  9. Agree with a lot of what u say but would never put Lewis ahead of Chambo. Tecniv
    Cally Lewis is fantastic but Chambo has put some sterling appearances in. I watch Lewis alot and he is a game changer and scertainly kickstarted our season but he does not work hard enough over 90 minutes for me. Both have had a great season. Bring on the playoffs.

  10. My ultimate would be to beat Cheatdiff at Wembley.

    nice to see Leeds with tails between their legs, fancy sending your home fans details on the play-offs! that kind of sums that club up

    Oh, I despise Leeds probably about as much as daft direby so this season is just getting better and better

    Football Karma, Cardiff, you are next

    • Martin, I too would also love Leeds to beat Cardiff at Wembley but like all Leeds fans realise it,s a very very slim chance. So if you do meet them I wish your team well. As for your ‘sums up the club’ comment do you meen trying to be prepared in the event that if we did make the play offs they would avoid the ticket distribution shambles of previos campains. There is no arrogance in it just commonsence. I,m sure, like Leeds you will have 100’s of 1000’s of ‘loyal’ Forest fans scrambling to take tickets off your true loyal 25000+ that watch every week. Goodluck. PS I live in OZ and my son and I applied for 2 final tickets (JUST INCASE) through overseas membership, only my son got offered a chance to purchase one. The demand was very high even though we knew we had the sh….test defence imaginable!!

  11. Agree with Vassilis’ comments as too many Red’s fans are far too quick to criticise the team & the manager @ times. So well done the mighty Reds. Like Red Ric I too am eating a great deal of humble pie about Chambers; although I may mitigate my misgivings by the fact that Clueless played him @ full back (understandable I suppose as we also had Wilson vying for a centre back spot) , just as he played Holt out wide (unforgiveable as a clear archetypal centre forward with little pace)… Anyway; fingers crossed & you never know we could be in the Premier League!!! You Reds

  12. Some good observations there graham regarding some of the smoulderwood selection foopahs.

    He really was way off the mark with some of his ideas regarding where players fitted in.Oh the dark days of leage 1 eh they were tough eh …….

    Thank God for wee billy we are a stones throw from the Premier leage .

    U reds

  13. […] thinks that for Leeds the ‘play-off dream is very much on’ and the NFFC Blogger is refusing to count his chickens, but I’ve done a quick survey of the eggs in Forest’s basket and I’d be confident in telling […]

  14. Forest are hitting form at the right time. All season we have relied on our defence and tried to nick a goal or 2 but recently we have scored a lot of goals which is very promosing going into the playoffs.
    3-2 vs Leiescter
    3-2 vs Bristol City
    5-1 vs Scunthorpe

    Seeing as 2 of the opponents goals were penalties and 2 were Lee camp’s mistakes, we have done very well scoring 11 in 3 games.

    • For goodness sake, what Camp mistakes??? Have you ever played the keeper’s position? I have, and if you mean the two goals v Bristol City I can give you plenty of excuses for our No 1 man… No pure coincidence that he was 2nd on POY voting, ahead even of Mr Goal AND Mr Assist Lewis McGugan…
      Oh… and if Im not wrong, Camp even saved a penalty of late…

  15. As I write this both QPR and Norwich are now promoted FA permitting in QPR’s case. Well done to both teams in a great achievement especially Norwich back to back and using a winger as a centre forward was inspired.
    It looks like the play offs after increasing our goal difference by 4 on saturday as I requested on this site makes the difference just a bit more unachievable by the big team from up north.We now have to get over ourselves and our appalling record in the annual lottery and get heads down arses up and get a workable plan for getting ourselves past this and into the premiership. The advantages are not having to play teams whose fans think they are better than they are and better than us for that matter the disadvantages are the six points we would not get from playing our A52 neighbours. I think it can be done but needs a radical rethink along the line of we are no worse than any other in the playoffs and we should respect not fear any of them at the asme time as all this is going on we should play some of the football we are capable of and win some games.
    The atmosphere at the city ground will be electric for our home tie regardless of who we play so we need to use that and get a result to see us through what will be a difficult away tie. We seem to be hitting a bit of form again so keep it going and lets get there.

    Come on the Reds

    • The possible FA punishment means that QPR have to play for much more than pride on Saturday. Why? Because, simply, if they lose to Leeds and we beat Palace, with 15 points deducted they are out of the play-offs, staying with 73 to our possible 75 while Reading already have 74… So I think Leeds’ chances are non-existent.
      On the other hand, I was astonished by how bad Cardiff looked yesterday. I wanted them as opponents in the play-offs because we have beaten them twice in the season and could “do a Blackpool”, but now Swansea could overtake them…
      Whatever happens, let it be… It’s down to us to play in the top flight next season… U REDS!

      • Actually I have it wrong… Leeds cannot overtake QPR if only 15 points are deducted. But I’ve heard about 18 somewhere else… And the point remains, Hoops cannot just lie down and lose Saturday, especially on nationwide TV.

  16. I don’t think there is any way QPR will roll over. They will want to send their home fans home happy with a last day win and Warnock hates Leeds. Realistically we are going to have to go some, even by Forest standards, to fluck things up. Can you honestly see us losing, say 3-0, to a team that has done all its hard work now and Leeds beating QPR by more than 4? Especially when QPR will want as many points on the board just in case? That sort of final day swing would be unprecedented.

    Is it just me but I think I actually prefer qualifying for the playoffs in 6th. I think there is less stress and pressure on the players and fans. Its only because of a deplorable twisted joke of a money generating marketing ploy that we get a second chance of promotion. Filling that last birth gives us more of a ‘what have we got to lose’ attitude rather than reflecting on finishing so close to the automatic slots and the expectation of beating the teams below you in the league. For the fist time I think we are going into the playoffs as under dogs and not fancied for it. That might make a big difference this time round…

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