They only had ten men..

Treacle: Forest struggled to wade through it this evening...

Nottingham Forest – 0
Swansea City – 0 

I’ll tell you what – I’ve yet to encounter fans more tuneful than Swansea ones, and they can count too – they were, I guess rightly, proud of their ten men for standing firm this evening.

So this is half time. To be honest, I left the ground pretty disheartened as a laboured performance from the Reds was rather upstaged by a visiting Swans side reduced to ten men after a mere minute into the game.  For the optimists out there, we’ve just equalled our best ever play-off result at the City Ground, so it can’t be that bad, can it?

There were chances – a goal struck off (apparently correctly according to my Sky Spies), a penalty not given for handball due to the referee’s view being blocked, some decent goalkeeping from De Vries too (and indeed, from Lee Camp), but you can’t help but feel a bit frustrated that we couldn’t make over ninety minutes with an extra man pay dividends really.  Can you?

Billy made a couple of changes, Guy Moussi succumbing to injury apparently saw a return to the middle for Paul McKenna, with Tudgay dropping to the bench for Earnshaw who returned from suspension:

Moloney   Morgan   Chambers   Gunter
Anderson   McKenna   McGugan   Cohen
Boyd   Earnshaw

 So, a mere minute into the game and the ball is infront of A Block, from my seat it looks like their left back goes in late two footed on Lewis.  I’ve not seen a replay yet, my Sky Spies seem undecided – one thinks the ball was won, the other thought it a horrible challenge.  Semi-optimistic ‘off! off! off!’ chanting quite surprisingly resulted in the referee brandishing just that.

Rodgers was quick to adjust – with Dobbie being withdrawn for Monk, but it seemed that in a perverse twist of accepted logic that the extra man was working against Forest, and being a man down was benefiting who seemed to get a little more traction going forward through their pacey wingers.  Traction was a bit of a problem though, the slick pitch causing a few slip-overs.

The first real opportunity fell to the visitors, but a promising break ended with Angel Rangel’s cross-cum-shot went straight through and out the other side for a goal kick.  Forest started to show signs of being positive, only to gift the ball back to Swansea, Borini nearly profited having found a way past Chambers, but unable to beat Lee Camp from a tight angle.

Shortly after Borini again was tormentor, a freekick from around the twenty-something yard mark was well struck by the striker and brought a decent save from Camp who tipped it over.  Whenever Forest did push forward the visitors got back in numbers and worked very hard to deny us any opportunities.  Meanwhile Borini brought another save from Camp.

35 minutes was how long it took for Forest to give De Vries a meaningful test – which kinda says a lot about the match really.  Boyd picked up the ball wide on the right near the goal line, and looked up to pick out Earnie with a cracking cross.  Earnie, uncharacteristically, met the ball very well with powerful drive – which, alas, was pretty close to De Vries who made a smart save.

The half ended with Swansea attacking and Moloney effectively marshalling Sinclair to safety.  Half time arrived, and to be honest optimism wasn’t running massively high for me at least.  I thought Swansea deserved a great deal of credit for their approach to the game having had a man sent off, whilst Forest just didn’t seem to get going.

It was a more positive start in the second half, a decent powerful strike from McGugan from range could only be parried by De Vries and was so close to being knocked out into Boyd’s path, but just evaded him before a defender cleared well.  Borini fell over and didn’t get up, the Reds played on before good work from Lewis found Earnie who spannered it into the Trent End from the edge of the area.

Borini limped off the pitch to be replaced by Luke Moore, which – whilst I wouldn’t wish injury on a player – has to be decent news, as he’d been a very influential player for our visitors.  Another shot from range wasn’t particularly well struck and provided a fairly routine save for De Vries to make.

Moore did have a decent effort after this bringing a save from Camp, before Cohen struck goalward only to be denied by the arm of a Swansea defender in the area.  Unfortunately for us, because it was pretty obvious from my seat, referee Mike Dean’s view was pretty much blocked according to Sky Spies, so it was never going to be given and there’s not much point in quibbling!

Then we thought we’d finally broken the deadlock – a McGugan corner found Boyd who flicked on (at the time, I assumed it was just a glancing header directly in), finding Earnie at the far post to head in the net – but he was flagged offside.  Confusing at the time, as we thought it was straight from the corner, but I’m reliably informed that the linesman got it spot on.  Damn him!

Almost immediately after the ever-dangerous Dyer got loose and was one-on-one with Camp, who made an excellent save from the winger’s shot.  Billy responded with a double substitution, replacing McKenna and Earnshaw for McCleary and Tyson.  Presumably the desire was to add a bit more pace and directness to our game.

It almost paid off – Anderson did well to find Tys in the area who managed to eventually get the ball past a couple of defenders before getting a shot away that was well blocked.  Tys again was on hand to try to get a diving header on a Cohen ball into the box, but wasn’t quite able to get on the end of the ball.  Tudgay replaced Boyd from the bench.

The last effort of the game for us was with Anderson striking the ball without masses of power, but it was well placed and brought a decent save from De Vries.  The four minutes of stoppage time involved Forest pressure, but very little danger for the resilient visitors who saw out the game without conceding and duly celebrated like crazy with their fans.

It’s understandable really – a really credible performance from the ten men, certainly whilst we had chances to get a goal, so did they – they were more than good value for the draw.  So we’re now truly at half time – the bright side for me is that we must go to the Liberty Stadium to get something from the game.  Imagine how spectacularly negative we might’ve been if we were taking a fragile one goal lead there?

Having said that, Swansea too will have to go for it – and we know how good a side they are on their day.  It’s going to be interesting.  I’m still not feeling confident, but then I wasn’t before kick-off today, and wasn’t even when it looked like a dream start for us with our opponents being reduced to ten men.  I’m prepared to do my bit and support the lads though, that’s all we can do!

25 Responses

  1. It’s tough to not feel disappointed after that, but at the same time, it’s kind of relieving and refreshing going into the second leg not expecting too much. Previously favourites against Yeovil and Blackpool at this point, and if we weren’t against Sheffield United then we certainly were when we went 2-0 up.

    This is Forest in the Play-Offs, nothing is ever as it seems!

  2. Bit gutted about tonight. I think them going down to 10 changed the game for the worse as a spectacle and maybe a more open game with 11 v 11 could have suited us a bit more as we’ve struggled to break teams down.
    I can’t help but wonder; was there a plan b and what has happened to Radi, wasn’t he awesome last year?

  3. We always do things the hard way !
    I’m still quietly confident. Our players know they have to go there and fight !
    !Not over impressed with Mckenna ,and hope Moussi is fit.
    Lets hope our training sessions consist of accurate passing at speed,running into spaces and keeping possesion!! We can do it !!!!

  4. Going down to 10 men certainly upset the Reds more than it did the Swans. We simply didn’t have a clue how to adapt to break them down and I was grateful we went in at half time without conceding.

    Big respect to Swansea. I thought they got it absolutely right in the way they played.

    Half time and we are certainly underdogs now. Bisg ask but this is football and this is Forest in the play offs – anything can happen!

  5. We can do it,
    much better second half,
    does anyone know if Findley might be fit for Monday, would be good to see him,
    Swansea will come at us so maybe counter attacks at pace,

    keep believing everyone

    you reds

  6. You can’t help but be a little worried after last night. Because the sending off came so early it’s difficult to judge whether it changed the pattern of the game in their favour or whether that would have been the pattern anyway in which case with 11 players on the pitch they’d have torn us apart.

    Either way thought Billy’s tactics and subs were poor. For the first 45 minutes they dominated us but we did nothing to change things up and just spent the 1st half lumping the ball up to a pretty ineffectual front two who were so poor they could/ should have been subbed as early as half time. And in a game in which WE had the numerical advantage and should have been bossing possession and giving them the run around it was crying out for someone like Radi or dare I even say it, McGoldrick to try and link the play better through midfield.

    BD is a good manager at this level but his footballing mentality is to build physically strong, organised sides that more often than not just grind out results. He does not look to play adventurous, attacking football and invariably the teams that end up doing well in the play-offs do just that.

    Also thought it worth giving Brenden Rodgers a mention. Really refreshing to here a manager talk about his team so positively and not mention any negatives. Can’t help but think if Billy did the same we’d see a more confident, positive Forest.

    Still it is in the balance and with Swansea coming at us more in the 2nd leg hopefully we’ll be able to find a bit more space to get at their back four and maybe see Moussi and Findley get a run out. Roll on Monday….

    • Totally agree WRed all Billy seems to do is send the team out not to get beat,last nite service to the strikers was a disgrace,as you say they were both poor when the ball did reach them,why do you need to drag the strikers back in your own box when defending corners ?,why is raddy sat on the bench?why dont the wide men with pace take players on?Football wise last nite the swans were head and shoulders above a very in my veiw,negative Forest side,if we get a result Monday and its a big if,and if we get to the prem how many of those players on show last nite would cut the mustard,Campy and Lewis maybe,could you see the back four dealing with Drogba,Tevez,Berbatov to name but a few.I have seen the reds get some cracking results over the years(36) but by being positive,something i feel at this present time Billy is not…………….

  7. Credit to Swansea they fought hard and with courage they also with 11 looked a sharp side.

    First half we looked a poor side lumping ball up no invention or craft .2nd half much better and there keeper played well and we were unlucky no doubt.
    I feel a bit deflated too Swansea have a large mental edge now well done to Lee Camp.

    Its always a friggin epic with Forest since I first watched them as a 6 yr old boy its not going to change is it ?

    My Forest heart lives in hope but my footballing brain is telling me Swansea are a fitter sharper outfit than us who will prevail.

  8. Mixed emotions to be honest, we are still in it. We do have the players to go there and win.
    However!! They did play well last night with ten men; they are a good footballing team.
    It’s ok Billy saying them losing a player affected us more but the fact is they held their own with 10, imagine what would have happened if they had had 11 ? The Moose missing was key, I thought him and Findley were fit!! It does frustrate me when you see other teams playing their best players ( there best footballers ) and we have a lad called Radi who can genuinely play football very well yet never gets a chance.
    For Swansea I would go
    Moloney Chambers Morgan Gunter
    Cohen Moose
    Majewski McGugan
    Findlay Earnshaw

    Tight back four, with two holding and stopping Swansea. Radi and Lewis dropping back when needed but there to scare Swansea and put decent passes (along the floor, not hit and hopes) to get Earnie and Findlay away.
    It’s a tough ask but we can still do it, however not a prayer of Billy picking my team!!

    • What about throwing Bennett on at left back and playing Gunts in a more natural position. I though Dyer gave him. a torrid time last night. Bennett could bring a bit more Passion and bite to a team that looked pretty toothless.

  9. I thought McKenna was very poor last night – far too slow and negative when he had the ball. He was supposed to be the one launching all our attacks from the base of the diamond, but all too often he took too long to distribute or simply played it back to Wes or Chambo. Three times in the first half this led to Wes deciding he had to try and do it all himself, and three times he lost the ball and Swansea broke at us and created a good chance.

    Then in the second half, Lewis started to drop deeper and deeper to try and start attacks himself – leaving us with just Earnie and Boyd as attacking options. It was no coincidence that we started to look much more dangerous after Billy took McKenna off.

    We desperately need the Moose to be fit for Monday.

  10. Sadly, last night along with Swansea away, Reading, Norwich, etc., proves beyond doubt that we are a million miles away from the Premier league.
    I agree with you that Lewis is premier class, whilst Campy is a good shot stopper, and would look ok at Bolton or the like.
    Nobody else comes close.
    Billy is not great tactically, and Earnshaw is the luckiest guy in a Forest shirt.
    Why was Tudgay dropped for Earnie? At least Marcus will work his socks off, we failed to press in every department last night, Tudgay would never allow that to happen if he was up front. Anderson in central midfield? Cohen on the right? Surley Bennet is a better left back than Gunter?
    Next season the Championship is going to be massively competitive, and at least in that league we have a chance of being competitive ourselves.
    Taking the positive from that i think we should prepare for another long slog, without some of our better palyers sadly, but football is moving on and leaving us behind, both tactically and financially.
    However i will alwys love the Forest

  11. A few things…

    Firstly, can’t help but feel we won’t get a better chance than that to get a foothold in a play-off tie. We didn’t look anyway near positive enough and the tactics and selections from Billy were disappointing. Leaving it so late to try and stretch the game is just bizarre in my eyes, they only had ten men so why didn’t we look to use the width of the pitch to make the advantage count?

    Secondly, I think we need to look at the full backs, as much as I like the boy Moloney, its clear that he’s not very confident running at people and is a bit unsure what to do when in possession. I think he’ll be a good player in time, but these aren’t the games for him. This is especially so when we have Gunter, one of the best right backs in the division playing out of position. I feel for Gunter as he struggles to use his left foot to get forward and often this is where things break down as he either takes an awkward touch or has to take a touch towards the man. If you remember back to when we were playing well it was the use of the full backs to help start getting the ball forward, that wasn’t there last night. As much as Billy clearly doesn’t like Bennett, he must be fairly fit and he does have a decent amount of experience and would bring a lot more balance to the team than a young boy and a square peg in a round hole, and we kow how much Billy hates them….

    Thirdly, I know a few people have talked him up, but I must say that I think there are severe questions over whether or not Earnshaw can do it anymore. Far too often he tries something that blatently isn’t on and has a wild shot which loses the team possession, maybe there was a time in his career that he could do the sublime, sadly I don’t think he still can. Whilst in both Boyd and Earnshaw we have two finishers, of the two I think Boyd is the sharper incidently, would it not be wise to consider having another striker on there who could bring something to the team – either a physical presence or some pace to give us an outlet?

    On to McKenna, I see there have been a few criticising him and heard one or two last night saying so, but I’d have to disagree. I’m not always a big Mckenna fan as I believe he is quite limited in terms of his eye for a pass, but his work rate and defensive reading of the game are his strong points. And last night although there were times he was left wanting, I think it was quite clear, particularly in the first half that he was the only one of our midfield who regularly found space and wanted the ball.

    For what its worth this is what i’d like to see on Monday night;
    Gunter Morgan Chambers Bennett/Lynch
    Anderson Cohen Moussi McGugan Tyson

    With this strating from a five in midfield to a three up top when we have possession.

    As disappointed as I am right now, I’m sure come Monday night I’ll be ever the optimist, come on you reds!

    • Thats the line-up he should go for mate, 2 up top at their gaff aint gunna bring us much joy if we can’t put one past em at ours wen they’ve only got 10 men on the pitch.

      Play counter attacking with Tys + Ando getting em in for Boyd and McGugster + Moussi picking up the loose balls n havin a pop at every opportiunity.

      Works for me!

  12. I think basically we bottled it again, but the good news is that we haven’t chucked it away yet. Swansea were impressive and, if we’re honest about it, they are a better side than us. We’re still missing a goalscorer (which Boyd could be when he’s properly fit), a midfield general (which McKenna might have been a couple of years ago), and a left-back (which is definitely not Gunter).

    If we don’t make it this year, ND will have to have one last hefty dip into his pocket but I’m still optimistic. They won’t be able to just sit back and hit us with Dyer on the break on Monday. No offence to Borini but I hope he’s played his last game of the season. And please God heal the Moose.

  13. Why was Anderson on the left? Why was Cohen in a ‘nothing’ position? WHAT ON EARTH IS BILLY DAVIES DOING! We DO have the personnel – Billy is out of his depth.

  14. Agree with lots that has been said here.
    Mckenna thanks for your leadership but good nite.
    Same for Earnie he’s been awful this season.
    Tys love your flag antics but not good enough at this level.

    AND now Billy………….time for you to get your game hat on and stop all the bollocks………..tactically very poor again last nite!!!! Billy this is the biggest job your every have DO IT and stop pretending that RAIL GORBALS are in the background wanting you!

    Can we win……YES…..will we win………………?

  15. Swansea passed us off the park with 10 men in the 1st half last night and a 5 man midfield is an absolute must to go thereand stop them from doing it again.

    I lost count with the number of times our midfielders swapped positions last night and it doesnt help our fluidity. For most of the second half, McKenna was left as the creative playmaker when it should have been Lewis.

    For leg 2, play 5 in midfield and GET LEWIS ON THE BALL IN AN ATTACKING POSITION and we might just snatch the win we need.

    And if we are struggling for a creative spark then PLEASE BRING RADDY ON!

  16. Evening all. Like most of you I think the swans did look every bit a premier quality outfit. Their confidence on the ball with 10 men was exceptional.

    But the league table doesn’t lie – they cant perform like that every week or it would have been them rather than Warnock’s lot who took the silverware.

    Think we should be trying 4-2-3-1 away from home for the first half. Mousse and McKenna deep, with a rotating creative attacking midfield group of three. Boyd up front as he clearly offers much more than Tudgay or Earnie.

    But – to the midfield three. McGugan obviously. Cohen? Probably, partly for work rate, but he didnt have the best game on thursday. Anderson has to be a strong contender.

    I am wondering whether the length of time Radi has been out of favour with Billy means he will be too short of match fitness. It is true he hasn’t been hitting the heights of his early spell for us, and its also true he’s not as strong on the ball as Lewis and Chris, but I think he could do a job.

    Oh, and finally, unless we’re home and dry by the second half, I’d start it with Mr Findlay. Having an unknown quantity could make all the difference, especially with his pace against tired Swansea legs.

    I’d be very surprised if Earnie, Tyson, Adebola, McGoldrick, or McCleary do it for us on Monday. But I’m very happy to be proved wrong!

    Billy’s selections are truly unpredictable, but lets hope he has a good day. All the play-off teams are strong this year. But they are all beatable.


  17. There were a few things that didn’t add up last night. I’m not sure Boyd and Earnie are our best pairing. Yes they are probably the best strikers but they’re too similar. We had some decent crosses in last night and I can’t help but feel that Tudgay would of been the better partner for either of these players.

    The fact that we destroyed a 10 man Palace with ease and we couldn’t get the ball off Swansea with 10 men in the first half says a lot. Swansea were really good last night, can’t take that away from them. But as good as they were especially the first half Forest just couldn’t get going and looked like they have done in every playoff game. They were shitting themselves if we’re honest and thats the reason they looked so laboured and out of ideas.

    Half of me thinks we should of got at least a 1 goal win but the other half says, we’d only try to sit on it at Swansea and they will just tear us apart if we do that. At least we have to change the mind set of ‘not losing’ to ‘we have to win if we are going to progress’. Well thats my theory and it makes me feel better about last night anyway.

  18. Can’t believe that Swansea are going to appeal about Taylor’s red card TO THE WELSH FA!!!! Mmmmm, what’s the betting he’ll be playing on Monday night then???? Ridiculous.

  19. That’s scandalous! Like it wouldn’t be in the interests of the Welsh FA to assist a Welsh club in its efforts to reach the Premiership?!!!

  20. No it won’t be overturned.The FAW do not like Swansea. An appeal for a Garry Monk red card was extended to 5 games a few years back, the same year they rescinded Cardiff’s Darren Purse so that he could appear in an FA Cup final. You ask any Swansea fan and they will tell you they can’t wait until next season when the FA not the FAW will deal with appeals.

    There are 5 Cardiff season ticket holders on the FAW panel which says a lot!

    I just wish the final was Swansea v Forest as after last nights Reading v Cardiff hoof fest neither Swans or Reds have anything to fear as long as they keep possession. Wembley is a big pitch which would suit Swansea or Forest and the team without the ball would get very fatigued quickly.

    Talking of Cardiff fans they are saying they are as good as in the final already and will ‘smash’ whoever they face on and off the field. Nice bunch eh? I hope they never ever see top flight football ever!

    Best of luck and a safe journey lads!

    • Swans fan here, there is little or no chance that the Welsh FA will overturn the red card (we dont play in blue) – amazingly the panel is meeting on Monday morning. They are an absolute joke and the sooner we are under the FA umbrella the better, although I dont think C*****f share those sentiments.

      Lets hope for a good game Monday and hope neither of us have to face those neanderthals up the road in the final. Have a good one.

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