Reds brush aside Palace and look to the play-offs..

The Reds (well, Whites) celebrate Lewis' opener..

Crystal Palace – 0
Nottingham Forest – 3

A nice finish to the regulation season for Forest saw them run out comfortable winners at Selhurst Park and cement their place in the play-offs.  Whilst Leeds did come from behind to beat QPR at Loftus Road, their one-goal lead would mean that Palace would have ultimately needed to put eight past us to let them supplant us.  Even taking Campy off at the end wasn’t likely to result in that!

With the QPR hearing over and no points deductions applied, it’s now appropriate to offer them congratulations on securing the title and promotion – whilst I don’t think we saw the best of them in either of our games, they’ve been up there all season and deserve tremendous credit.  As do Norwich who make up the remainder of the automatic places.

Back to our game though, Billy made a few changes –  Moloney came in for loan-ended Konchesky, who was present at the game to cheer the lads on – nice touch.  He slotted in at right back with Gunts moving to left back.  Tudgay replaced the suspended Earnshaw up front.  Anderson came in for McGoldrick and Moussi replaced McKenna in midfield.

Moloney  Morgan   Chambers   Gunter
Anderson   Cohen
Tudgay   Boyd

 The opening stages of the game were quite scrappy, both sides losing possession all too readily – but we were quickly cheered by news filtering through from across London that QPR had taken a ridiculously early lead against Leeds.  The most interesting thing early doors in the game I noticed was how quick Palace’s right back looked!

Our first chance came from our first corner of the game – a decent delivery from McGugan found Chambers who planted his header into the ground, it rebounded, hit a defender on the line then the crossbar.  Chambers tried the same trick as against Scunny by celebrating, but – much like the ‘goal’ against Scunny – I don’t think it had crossed the line.

Shortly after the ball broke for McGugan on the edge of the area who caught it with a slightly awkward volley, but powerful though his effort was it was wide of the post with Speroni looking like he had it covered to me.  Another attempt, this time from Ando after good work from the number 7, but alas he ended up on his left foot and let fly with a weak shot straight at the Palace ‘keeper.

Forest did score soon after though – a direct ball into the box found Tudgay being challenged by a Palace defender – I’m not sure whose head it came off, but it dropped nicely for Lewis who fired it into the ground, bouncing it awkwardly and into the bottom corner of the net.  As you often see with Lewis, never quite sure whether or not he meant it to do that.

Moments later we thought it was two nil, some lovely one-touch passing culminated in a Cohen cross to Boyd who netted with his head, but alas Cohen was judged to be offside.

After this Palace were reduced to ten men, Dean Moxey unleashed what (having seen replays) was a bloody awful challenge on Marcus Tudgay, bringing his studs down onto his upper leg.  Tuds got up and then hit the deck again – the jury’s out for me, I think he over-reacted a tad (with the hands-over-face stuff), but it was definitely a red card – and a little silly in a game that had no consequence for Palace.

As the first half played out the Reds looked composed and in control of the match, as our hosts adjusted to playing with ten men.  There really wasn’t much incident, although I was texted that at one point we’d had 67% possession according to the Sky Sports statisticians – that’s pretty impressive, and certainly we did seem to have the lion’s share of the ball.

The second half started more evenly, again the Reds seemed to be in ‘give the ball way’ mode.  Moussi did well to get on the end of a Darren Ambrose freekick to concede a corner early in the half, before the Reds were eventually able to get back on the offensive.  A decent cross in from Ando found Boyd who shot into McCarthy, the ball falling kindly for Speroni to gather up.

It was end to end though, Neil Danns had a chance at the other end but put it wide.  Billy opted to make a change, taking off Guy Moussi who apparently suffered a calf issue and had ice put on it straight away.  To replace him was Paul McKenna.  In the meantime Palace were still threatening, McCarthy heading wide from a long ball.

David McGoldrick was introduced for Kris Boyd with 69 minutes on the clock.  On the seventy minute mark came goal number two – a lovely cross in by Brendan Moloney in space on the right swung outwards, and found Marcus Tudgay in the six yard box between the central defenders and free to head the ball past Speroni.  After scoring he made a beeline for the you right back to acknowledge his part in the goal, which is always good to see.

Then came a surprise, Lee Camp was withdrawn having picked up an ankle injury giving Karl Darlow an unexpected debut.  Camp was immediately on the bench and with an icepack on his ankle – having received a great ovation as you’d expect from the travelling Reds fans.  That said though, he was still off the seat and jumping up and down when we scored the third.

So, the third – Chambers passes the ball to McGoldrick pretty far out, he turns, has a look and unleashes an absolute piledriver into the roof of the net.  It was the kind of goal we’re used to seeing from McGugan – great to see him netting too.  At the other end Gunts picked up a yellow card for a foul, and Ambrose hit the resulting freekick goalward which Darlow dealt with well.

Post-match it was great to see the Palace fans give our lads a bit of an ovation (Tudgay aside, who they’d been giving dog’s abuse all game for what I guess they thought was a bit of gamesmanship in the red card incident).  All in all, though, it was a lovely gesture from fans out to have a good day having secured their future in the Championship the week before.

Elsewhere Swansea beat Sheffield United 4-0, whilst Cardiff only managed a draw at Burnley, which gave the more palatable Welsh side in our league third place – and a play-off tie with us.  I have to admit, I would have preferred to face the Bluebirds in the semi-finals, however, I’m thrilled to have made it into the top six and – let’s face it – if we are to triumph, then we must face good teams.  It’s inevitable.

Brendan Rodgers – a manager I am full of admiration for – has already tried to cast his excellent Swansea City side as underdogs.  I would disagree most strongly with him, as I’m sure he does too away from the media.  I think for the first time Forest are actually probably being considered underdogs in a playoff semi-final, and hopefully this role suits us better.

Our play-off campaign kicks off at The City Ground on Thursday, tickets are already on sale – season ticket holders have ’til 8pm tomorrow to claim their seats, then there’s the priority of NFFC members, bizarrely people who went to the discounted Scunthorpe game, and then it will be general sale.

So all that remains is to offer massive congratulations to Billy and the boys, two consecutive play-off campaigns isn’t to be sniffed at regardless of the outcome.  Being the typically cautious and pessimistic sod that I am, I struggle to feel too confident just yet, but it’s fantastic to be in the mix at this stage of the season and see what Billy has up his sleeve to hopefully reverse our fortunes in this end of season lottery.

One friend – not a football fan, but familiar with the pain it causes me – texted me this morning, I quite liked the sentiment, although it might not be statistically robust.  “If I understand it right, there’s a one in four chance of winning the play-offs, Forest have been in them three times and lost – so surely it’s a statistical certainty they’ll triumph this time!”

As Billy said post-match, it’s definitely time for the boys to come of age.

16 Responses

  1. The last time the Swans went up to the top flight there was a big Royal wedding on the horizon, our kit was Adidas which will be our kit next season. A returning hero from a yorkshire club (Alan Curtis from Leeds to Swansea) came back to us which mirrors this season Leon Britton (Sheff Utd to Swans).
    Surely these are omens? 😉

  2. haha I’m setting myself up for disappointment – we’ve got baggage too from play off finals Northampton in 1997 and recently Barnsley at the Millenium Stadium.

    The mood down here is one of excitement without getting carried away. No one is talking of finals, everyone is proud of what we have achieved this season and of the way we are now playing. Getting to Wembley would be a bonus.

    Are you coming down for the away leg?

  3. Last season just before the play-offs kicked-off, I simulated the matches a number of times. Ironically, the first time I simulated, Blackpool beat Cardiff in the final, and in the remaining simulations, Forest had won the final, the least no. of times and Blackpool, the most.
    But this season in early May, I simulated the matches that will be in the play-offs, and guess who won the final… that’s right, my friend. Forest beat Cardiff 1-0 in the final, in that simulation. So again, you just never know.
    We’ve done the double over Cardiff for the 1st time in “50” years and Derby in “27” years, and been unbeaten at home for “36” matches. If this isn’t Forest’s year, then when will it be?

  4. I’d rather go out in the semis than to lose to Cardiff in the final 😦 If you do beat us then I’ll be supporting Forest against either Cardiff or Reading.

  5. Dont know if I buy all this omen stuff the team that wins play off games and similar situations is the one who holds there bottle and is clinical.

    We are coming good at the write time and banging in the goals by the bucket load Swansea are in for a torrid night at the city ground we owe them from the last game billy has to go for the juglar no messing this time.

    All our pacey players are back and earnie and boyd are big game goalscorers I back them both along with lewis to do the damage.

    I feel quietly confident because of how we are playing and the players will be wanting to make amends for last year go grt em lads.

    U reds

  6. True, but omens and superstitions are part and parcel amongst football fans.
    Nathan Dyer is the guy you need to look after as he ruined Konchesky at the Liberty. We also are scoring for fun too remember 10 goals with 1 conceded in the last 4 games. Oh and look out for Fabio Borini and Stephen Dobbie. Dobbie pulls the strings to unleash Fabio, Sinclair and Dyer. Some interesting battles in midfield.

  7. The lads can do it this time for sure !
    Our small part to play is on Thursday night – The old CG needs to be absolutely rocking ! Swinsea will not know what day its is ….u reds

  8. Aye I understand fans have some interesting habits to convince themselves of how football results will go john.

    I played in cup finals and important games since a wee boy and every time the team with bottle and spirit and a clinical edge is the victor.
    I agree you have some good quick players who can score goals but so do we and I think you played us when we were on a mega downer and if it wasnt for the woodwork would have drew.

    Very different animal this time we are back in the zone and it should be a cracking game eh hope you enjoy it mate between losing all your nails like me and possibly some sanity.

  9. well i have to be honest i dont know which way this game will go. have we got cardiff i would of been more optimistic about reaching the final. i reckon us and swansea are very similar in the way we play and approach games, its 50/50. may the best team win 🙂 and may that be forest….

  10. I don’t wish to be too negative but Sinclair and Dyer tore us apart down there. I’m not sure how we’re going to deal with them this time. Gunter at left back doesn’t convince me. Our main priority should be how to keep these two quiet and to stop Swansea from keeping posession.

    Agree with NFFC re ticket priority system. What about those that paid more than twice as much for other games?!!! It’s ridiculous.

  11. That’s a key battle Gunter/Konchesky v Dyer/Sinclair
    Dyer is the real danger though as he just does not stop running and always seems to beat his man. If he had goals in him he wouldn’t be at Swansea.
    Up the middle of the park is where I am worried facing Forest!

  12. John – Moloney is a talented young right back. We like him, he’s quite good!

    And as for telling us to look out for Borini and Dobbie, we know both of them all to well thanks very much. The Italian got a brace against us on his debut for you and Dobbie scored against us in last season’s play off second leg debacle vs Blackpool.

    So it’s fair to say we won’t be pleased to see either of those players on thursday!!!

  13. Presumably Garner will be available to us again now? Not that Billy would ever dream of using him though.

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