Nottingham Forest – 3
Notts County – 3
(AET) – Forest win 4-3 on Penalties
A day of many distractions – with the country apparently up in arms and rioting for, erm, well, no particular reason that any of the ill-educated scrotes who’ve been asked can articulate and – for Forest fans certainly – the circus of the Wesley Verhoek transfer. Despite the attempts by the local media this wasn’t ‘Derby day’ – it was, for me at least, a banana skin fixture that – for local peace of mind at least – we could really do with not losing.
Not least for Steve McClaren who could use a boost after a limp opening game against Barnsley. Of course, not losing means winning in the Carling Cup – as these games are decided on the night these days. With Camp and Gunter on international duty, there were some forced changes to personnel, and chosen ones too with Boateng withdrawing to the bench to make way for Raddy in midfield, and McGoldrick being withdrawn to give Robbie Findley his first competitive start for us.
Moloney Morgan Chambers Cohen
Anderson Majewski Reid
Something like that, anyway. For Notts despite repeated protestations about his ankle injury, Lee Hughes inevitably lined up for the Magpies (and indeed, would last the entire game, including extra time). Much as I share most football supporters’ dislike of him, he’s a dangerous player still. Former red Hamza Bencherif lined up in midfield for them, and Craig Westcarr found himself on the bench.
A good early chance for the Reds saw Anderson get on the end of a Findley pass but nudge the ball just wide of the Trent End goal. After this though it’s fair to say that Notts County had us under the kosh. They harried, they hassled, they closed down and they pressed forward. A long range effort from Bishop gave Smith a routine save to start with, shortly after a close range header from Lee Hughes brought a brilliant save from the forgotten man.
The ‘keystone cops’ routine in defence was leaving us frightfully exposed and affording opportunities aplenty to the away side – Smith was able to punch away another attempt by Bishop, and fortunately for us when it fell to Ravenhill he missed the target. Eventually the Notts pressure did count though, a freekick was played into the area by Sheehan, it was nodded down and just evaded both Moloney and Morgan in the box to let Edwards sneak a toe on it to bundle it in.
It’s hard to say that Notts didn’t deserve the lead – they’d certainly worked for it. The Reds came close to a quick equaliser when a freekick from Reid fell nicely for Greening whose effort was blocked by despairing lunges from County defenders. Lewis McGugan looked to threaten, taking the ball past two men and was cynically felled by the third – he duly stood up and, with Reid alongside him behind the ball, spanked an unstoppable freekick into the top corner giving Nelson absolutely no chance in the Notts County goal.
Forest were on top now – a cracking cross from Majewski found Reid on the back post to head goalwards, but Nelson made the save. Reidy – whilst not renowned for his headed goals admittedly – probably should’ve scored. Findley did score moments later, a lovely ball in from Cohen found him where he headed back across the goal into the far corner. Celebrations were cut short by an erroneous offside flag (not too short for the PA to blast out the embarrassing ‘goal music’ though).
Both sets of fans were positive at half time – County fans understandably because their side had certainly competed, Forest fans perhaps appeased by the Reds’ late rally in the game after a decidedly shaky start. With news filtering through of how Derby were getting on at home to Shrewsbury it certainly cheered us up no end as we wiled away the half time break and tried to predict how the second half would pan out.
It started out as a mirror image of the first really – County were up for it, presumably with the barkings of ol’ Mad Dog ringing in their ears they went for the jugular. Edwards put in a cross that Smith palmed away before Cohen completed the clearance. A corner into the Forest area caused mayhem and pinballed around like crazy before eventually being cleared, again by Cohen. A powerful strike from Ravenhill from a tight angle after another corner brought another good save from Smith.
McClaren opted to make his first change, withdrawing Anderson and replacing him with Joe Garner to give the Reds a more overt attacking outlet. Whether it contributed, who knows? But Forest scored shortly after – a nice pass from Moloney on the right found Reid on the left, who crossed deep to the back post, Nelson in the County goal was napping a bit and perhaps unaware that Findley was there who managed to steer a volley past him into the goal to net his first (should’ve been second admittedly!) Forest goal.
Minutes later he could’ve had two – a mix-up in the County defence saw him get clear and unleash a powerful shot on goal but Nelson was equal to it and tipped it over. The game remained high-tempo but both sides were struggling to forge chances, and Forest were looking at that dangerous level of comfortable. If you watch Forest, you know what I mean, they looked in control but there’s always that sense that a cock up is around the corner!
Boateng replaced McGugan with 16 minutes to go and it seemed to upset the balance of things, that’s not a reflection on George, but things seemed to go to pot a little bit. No more so than when Westcarr turned in the box (admittedly, Wes appeared to be being impeded by another player) and fired a well-placed shot past Smith to give Notts the equaliser. With all the pleas for peace and goodwill it was quite silly of the youngster to celebrate by going off to goad A Block!
It could’ve been a double-sucker-punch moments later, a weak clearing header from Chambers found an unmarked Hawley who brought another excellent save from Paul Smith in the Forest goal. The goal breathed new life into Notts, substitute Montano played a great cross in towards Lee Hughes who got a goalbound shot off, again only to be thwarted by Paul Smith. McClaren replaced Andy Reid with Marcus Tudgay. Shortly after a freekick on the edge of the box saw us lamenting the substitutions of McGugan and Reid.
That said, Raddy clipped it over the encroaching wall well, but couldn’t get it to dip under the bar in time. As four minutes of stoppage time was announced the Reds strove to try to finish it off in normal time – a quick freekick to Tudgay saw him net, but he was offside – and the game was forced into extra time to decide matters, finishing 2-2 after ninety minutes. Both managers took to the field to brief their teams, with Notts culminating in a big team huddle, aww, sweet!
Forest started extra time strongly – Morgan and Greening both threatened from a corner, but it was of course the Magpies who took the lead in Extra time. Hawley played a cracking throughball to the either-offside or spectacularly-badly-marked Lee Hughes who placed a deft shot well beyond Smith and curling enough to clip the post and find the net, sending the County fans into raptures. Sir Lee Hughes Day beckoned. An ugly notion.
Garner was unlucky with an effort that deflected and nearly evaded Nelson, but he was able to tip it over. The resulting corner found Morgan who headed off-target. After changing ends Greening blazed over from close range, admittedly an awkward ball in a crowded box. A decent freekick delivery from Cohen found Garner who got to the ball in the air but put it over – Garner again struck a decent shot which had some fans almost celebrating, but it finished just wide.
As the County fans started to think they’d got the result they craved above all overs, Wes Morgan – in what must be at least the hundredth time we’ve deployed him as an emergency forward – came up with the goods, and then some. The ball fell to him on the edge of the area, and without thinking he lashed it on the half volley and it went like an exocet into the top corner to take the game to penalties. It was literally the last kick of the open game. Which kinda serves all those who left early right!
Chambers won the toss, and predictably chose the Forest-populated Trent End goal to be the end at which the penalties would be taken – whilst the players assembled around the centre circle the two goalkeepers made their way to the goal.
- Greening – clipped the outside of the post. Miss.
- Westcarr – coolly struck and sends Smith the wrong way. Scores. Doesn’t celebrate like a twat this time.
- Tudgay – Nelson unlucky with a hand on it, but goes in. Scores.
- Hawley – another solid penalty, sends Smith the wrong way. Scores.
- Garner – confidently struck into the bottom corner. Scores.
- Bencherif – spanners it over the bar. Miss.
- Findley – confident strike into the bottom corner. Scores.
- Sheehan – cracking penalty into the top corner. Scores.
- Boateng – ridiculous run up, telegraphed placed effort easily saved by Nelson. Miss.
- L. Hughes – if he scores this, they win. He blazes over. Miss.
- Chambers – hammers it into the top corner. Scores.
- Bishop – blazes over to hand the tie to us. Miss.
A pulsating encounter – and one for which Notts County deserve real credit, a tough contest. Personally I thought the referee was a little weak in dealing with the repeated niggly fouls and gamesmanship from the Magpies – but equally he was quite lenient when Raddy appeared to clip Hughes in the box at one point, it was ineptitude rather than any specific biasedness which is a fairly common complaint from referees.
After recent friendlies have descended into farcical fighting, and with a backdrop of the cities of the UK under some kind of ridiculous spell of lawlessness, it is brilliant to not have to comment on any unrest between the two sets of supporters. There was banter aplenty, but even after a game ending in penalties – where emotions run high – there was no trouble to speak of, which does great credit to the football supporters of Nottingham.
So, Sir Lee Hughes Day averted. Or maybe we should refer to it as that? For me this was a ‘must not lose’ rather than a ‘must win’ game – it just so happens that to achieve one the other occurs – so it’s a case of job done. Some promising forward play here, some concerns over the defence. However, the match was entertaining and just the ticket to distract from the disappointment of losing out on Verhoek due to homesickness.
As @terrythekitman said on Twitter, let’s make Derby-SURE we get Matt signed!
Filed under: Matches |