Nottingham Forest – 0
Barnsley – 0
It shouldn’t be a surprise really, excitement at the start of a new season followed by a swift reminder of the frustrations that can come as a result of supporting a team. A limp encounter, for sure – which saw Barnsley initially playing for the draw with the Reds having no idea how to break them down, followed by a realisation from the visitors that they might nick a win and opening up a bit more – with Forest still having no idea how to break them down.
The customary nonsense about the miner’s strike debated in single syllables between groups of supports too young to have had any direct involvement in them, Barnsley with a mysterious third syllable in their ‘Barns-er-ley’ chant – all in all, frustrations aside, it was good to be back amongst those folks you only see during the season – but hell, it was a really rather dull game – and that’s probably being kind.
Steve opted to start all his new signings in midfield (excluding the Moose of course, who I suppose is technically a new signing), and raised a few eyebrows with his choice of David McGoldrick as a lone striker. The optimists speculated perhaps he might know something we don’t, or maybe Jimmy Floyd had unlocked something we’d not seen in the youngster yet. I guess you can guess who was right!
Gunter Morgan Chambers Cohen
Anderson McGugan Reid
I think that’s how the formation was meant to look – the truth is that Boateng and Greening were incredibly deep, Reid too was often found amongst the defence. Anderson and McGugan dropped deep to receive the ball leaving a gigantic no-man’s land before you found McGoldrick ploughing a lone furrow upfront, getting little joy from the occasional glimpses of the ball he was treated to.
McGoldrick has been in receipt of some rather unkind comments around the ‘net over the last day or so – it’s fair to say he was ineffective but personally I ascribe that to the fact he was played in a role to which he’s not suited, and wasn’t remotely helped by a singular lack of service from midfield. Sound familiar? It should, it’s not a new problem for the Reds.
The opening was potentially bright, Paul Anderson was felled by ex-Derby thug Jay McEverley giving us a freekick on the edge of the box. Excitement built in the stands with both Reidy and McGugan lining up – it was Reid that struck it in the end, and well, I bet he wishes he hadn’t – it was ridiculously off-target, much to the amusement of the Barns-eh-ley fans.
At the other end some good work from Danny Haynes saw him pushed too wide for a shot, but a decent cross was just diverted from their big striker Craig Davies thanks to the attentions of Cohen. Moments later a freekick from Butterfield found Davies perfectly unmarked at the near post, but fortunately for us he was unable to find the target, heading high and wide.
As for the Reds, plenty of possession, some nice passing (usually sideways) culminating in a hopeful punt forward resulting in zero goal threat and a visiting side comfortable to sit and wait. With around fifteen minutes remaining there was a bit more of a sense of urgency. Reidy, looking several yards off the pace, played a lovely cross-field ball to Anderson who in turn beat his man and found McGugan, who shanked it off target.
Keen to make amends, Lewis turned provider, getting away from his man on the left and putting a cross a bit too close to Luke Steele who was able to pounce on the ball before McGoldrick could get a toe on it. That was prett much it for the first half – it wasn’t particularly good and had succeeded in nullifying the pre-match excitement that had been building.
New boys Greening and Boateng had both looked comfortable on the ball – but hadn’t seen enough of it, and had both been too deep for most of the game. It seemed to me a little overly negative to have them both in the ‘sitting’ role in a home game. Reidy does look a little heavy, and didn’t seem to realise he wasn’t likely to beat opponents for pace – he needs to release the ball more quickly. He can still deliver a killer ball.
The second half saw Barnsley come out more positively, probably realising the Reds were a little toothless. Haynes tickled Lee Camp’s palms with a low shot from an angle which never looked in any danger of going in. At the other end a powerful cross from Anderson was punched back into play by Steele, falling to McGugan who fell as he volleyed it and put it wide – a bad miss, and he’d changed his boots at half time too after falling over a couple of times in the first half!
Just ten minutes into the half McClaren made his first chance, withdrawing the isolated and extremely ineffective McGoldrick and replacing him with Garner to play in the same lonely role. That said, he was hacked down by Addison after not long (and customarily continued moaning at the ref even after being given the free kick!).
McGugan struck the freekick well, a double-ricochet took it out for a corner – it could’ve been one of those that deflected in, but t’wasn’t to be. The visitors had their moments too, Cohen blocked one effort on goal, and a header from Doyle went wide. Another opportunity for Forest saw Anderson capitalise on a defensive mix up, he put a lovely ball across the goal but it evaded the lunges of both Garner and Reid.
Morgan headed wide from a corner, and McClaren replaced the increasingly knackered looking Reid for Majewski. We did knock the ball around quite well, but ultimately the final ball was a real let down – a right-footed cross from Cohen one example gifting Barnsley a goal-kick right away. The Reds pressured, won corners, but deliveries were never quite good enough.
Lewis remained – despite a quiet game by his standards – our main threat and was found with a nice ball to unleash a volley from around 12 yards, alas a Barnsley defender was wise to the threat and managed to get in the way of it. Cohen meanwhile was looking decent in defence in marshalling Doyle and preventing him posing a meaningful threat on goal.
The Reds laboured ’til the end but it wasn’t ever really looking like a team that was going to score. Indeed, the only save I saw Steele make was at the end when Majewski managed to wriggle a shot away in a crowded area with Steele diving low to make the save. I’ve seen stats suggest we had five shots on target – I’d love to know when the other four were (are they counting the rather ‘firm’ header back to the keeper by their defender?!).
A Cohen free-kick into the box headed towards Chambers who was pressing Steele, but the keeper was able to get a punch on it to clear to herald full-time. A draw was fair, really – we didn’t offer nearly enough going forward, and looked a yard or two off the pace in most areas – that said, smatterings of boos at half and full time were hardly warranted.
McClaren’s era at Forest starts as many have before him, with a limp performance in the first game. Certainly it will be interesting to see what adjustments he makes to try to provide more goal threat – his selection this time did a nice job in why he’s trying to canvass for more players, and it’s not hard to imagine how the manager must hope a player like Ishmael Miller might be more effective in the lone role.
With the visit of Notts County on Tuesday night it gives him a quick opportunity to make some adjustments and hopefully opt for a more positive formation in a game that doesn’t have quite so much importance (that said, I’m not sure I really want to hear the gloating of Colin Slater indefinitely, so it would be best to get a win I’m thinking!). With not that far off as many away tickets sold as they average for home games, it will be an interesting crowd dynamic on Tuesday.
The positives – a clean sheet, the negatives – well, re-read the report, there’s plenty. We must retain perspective though, it was the first game, and whilst we crave a positive start we don’t often get one! Certainly it gives Schteve a very clear few of some deficiencies which aren’t new to us, and I’m sure even now he’s working through training as well as hopefully with the transfer panel to address them.
Filed under: Matches |