Bang in the cup sandwiched with whimpers in the league..

McClaren: A lot to do!

Millwall – 2
Nottingham Forest – 0 

If ever there was a demonstration of why the Reds have been so keen to add attacking threats to their ranks, this was it.  A lifeless and sluggish Forest side were outpaced, outfought, out-thought and out-scored by a lively Millwall side who – frankly – probably feel they should’ve won by a more comfortable margin.

McClaren went for changes after the midweek Carling Cup game, unsurprisingly restoring internationals Lee Camp and Chris Gunter to the side at the expense of Paul Smith and Brendan Moloney.  He played Boateng in midfield rather than Majewski, and the injured Paul Anderson was replaced with Joe Garner.  Two up front, with a narrow midfield diamond behind:

Camp
Gunter   Morgan    Chambers   Cohen
Boateng
Greening   Reid
McGugan
Findley   Garner

Findley aside, there’s not a lot of pace in there for getting forward (with the possible exception of Gunts).  It was the home side that started on top, and remained there pretty much throughout – an early penalty appeal was ignored by the referee, moments later they were appealing again when Cohen won the ball from James Henry.

It didn’t take long to get the lead for the Lions though, a corner to the near post ended up being flicked up and over Camp into the goal.  Henderson was credited but his muted celebrations would suggest own goal to me, really difficult to see who go t the final touch on it.  The result is the same though, a goal down and looking frankly shambolic in defence.

After the goal slack marking from a short corner gave Henry oodles of time to pick out a cross but fortunately the Reds managed to stand firm this time.  Our first chance came after around a quarter of an our, Greening playing the ball to Reid who turned well and shot but was just off target with the ‘keeper looking beaten.

Another opportunity was lost when Garner beat their keeper to a lose ball, he crossed a low ball in well towards Findley but Darren Ward was on hand to prevent him opening his league account for the Reds.  Whilst there were some decent moments for us, a quick break from Millwall saw Lee Camp in action to prevent Bouazza scoring, and indeed reclaim the loose ball before Marquis could pounce.

Indeed, our defence seemed eager to test the resolve of Camp – a dodgy backpass from Gunts put him under unnecessary pressure, moments later some calamity defending from Chambers gifted the home side the ball in the box only to be saved by a last-ditch Boateng challenge.  Henry missed the last chance of the half, having yet again been gifted a chance to score.

Clearly Schteve’s words at half time had some effect – the Reds had more about them, but were still easily outpaced by the home side.  That said, we were starting to look positive – Cohen drilled a decent ball in to the near post where Findley got a touch on it but struck the outside of the post for a goal-kick.

An hour on the clock and nothing looked like changing fast, Marcus Tudgay was introduced in a straight swap with Joe Garner.  Forest were fading though, and Millwall looking dangerous – a 35 yard freekick from Bouazza required a decent save from Camp, and Cohen needed to be on hand to clear the resulting rebound.

Reidy was our next player to be withdrawn, with Majewski replacing him.  Forest started to enjoy a degree of possession without really going anywhere – whilst Millwall counter-attacked with pace.  N’Guessan – on as a sub – broke through at pace and crossed brilliantly to Trotter who made no mistake at the back post to double Millwall’s lead.

Trotter could’ve had another too, but Camp saved his effort from a tight angle.  The final chance fell to Mkandawire who made a mess of controlling N’Guessan’s ball to him having just beaten Chambers.  All in all, a frustrating afternoon.  Not shots on target, no real cohesion in midfield and defending – at times – like a bunch of clowns.

I know it’s kinda traditional for us to have a slow start to the season these days, but this was a frustrating afternoon’s work from the boys.  With Derbyshire and Miller (assuming he doesn’t get homesick!) waiting in the wings there is hope of more deadliness up front, and a trip to so-far pointless Doncaster on Tuesday could be a good opportunity to get going this season.

McClaren has a real job on his hands – he sounds frustrated post-match, and whilst I can empathise with his desire for wide players, there has to surely be some concern about how ropey we are looking in defence too?  Either way, it’s too early to be worrying unduly at the moment – I’m sure he has a plan… doesn’t he?

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