Going, Cohen, gone :(

After hitting the deck in the Derby match and eventually hobbling off (once the Rams had equalised), it transpires that Chris Cohen has sustained the dreaded anterior cruciate ligament rupture.  Think Julian Bennett, think Dexter Blackstock – think up to a year out.  It’s absolutely shit news for Chris and for Forest alike.

Naturally I wish him a speedy recovery – I value him above most of our squad (albeit not as a left back as Steve McClaren seems to insist on utilise him).  The tiny shred of silver lining of this whole issue is that it underlines our need to, you know, sign a left back… which leads me to the next bit of team news…

We’ve signed Clint Hill on loan for 93 days from Queens Park Rangers.  Do you know where he played last season?  He played left back.  For QPR – the team that won the league.  That said, I’m still quite partial to the idea of him putting some pressure on the centre halves and deploying Lynch as left back – he’s impressed me when he’s played there this season (he impressed me at centreback yesterday too).

Hopefully the arrival of his child (congratulations!) will perhaps help lift the heavy weight of the captains armband from Luke Chambers.  We shall see – but a huge welcome aboard to Clint, regardless – I must admit I’ve always thought of him as a bit of a thug – but QPR and Palace fans I’ve asked think differently, although I wonder what Ando thinks as I’m sure he once elbowed him in the face!

Certainly our defence has lacked some steel and leadership – which is one of the reasons I kinda hope that Hill will be used to displace one of the centre halves and Lynch gets a run at left back.  Since that seems so unequivocally sensible I am 99.9% sure that this isn’t the path that Steve McClaren will take…

Newcastle put Forest out the cup.. eventually..

'Fro Mercy: Coloccini's late extra time winner puts Newcastle through..

Nottingham Forest – 3
Newcastle United – 4
(After Extra Time)

Apologies for the delay, I’ve been having untold technical problems – but I’m back with something other than my phone with Internet access again!  It’s fair to say this game didn’t fill me with excitement – an opportunity for an as yet unbeaten top flight side to make mincemeat of our flimsy defending seemed on the cards.

On the whole, it wasn’t like that at all – some really promising signs, albeit still some flimsy defending.  A credible performance and perhaps even an opportunity to rue not being in the hat for the next round draw – maybe that’s ideal, a confidence-booster in some regards, but no resulting distraction in the form of a draw in the next round.

Changes were needed due to injury if nothing else, and a change of formation of sorts too.  It looked a little something like this:

Moloney    Morgan    Lynch    Gunter
Greening    Moussi   McGugan
Derbyshire    Tudgay    Findley

The first half began sluggishly from both sides – very little forward motion from either side, content to keep possession and build slowly, and generally to nothing.  The Reds eventually forced a couple of corners which, predictably from our corner taking of late, came to little – Findley got a flick on the second but there was no Red shirt in place to convert it.

Newcastle hit us on the break down the right hand side, it took a last gap tackle in the box from Moloney to prevent Marveaux doing us any damage at the expense of a corner.  At the other end Coloccini lost the ball to Tudgay but despite it being the defender holding back the Reds striker, the referee gave a freekick to Newcastle.  This was to be the start of a series of decisions that would heavily favour the top flight side.

Marveaux again was causing problems, and it was the unlikely figure of Derbyshire who cleared from within the area.  At the other end Moussi found McGugan who’s shot was blocked but not cleared, the ball came back to Lewis who picked out Robbie Findley who wasn’t able to beat his man and the away side got it clear.

They took the lead when that man Marveaux found space down the left hand side to put in a cross that went over Morgan and found Lovenkrands in the box, who headed in.  We are, it seems, as vulnerable as ever from crosses into the area.  It was pretty much the last meaningful action in a fairly lacklustre half in terms of direct chances being created.

A big improvement in the second though, right from the off Forest hauled themselves level.  A long ball from Lee Camp found Robbie Findley who turned well and struck a lovely shot past Rob Elliott from outside the area.  The goal certainly perked up Forest who enjoyed a spell of possession, but it was Newcastle with the next chance of note – Ben Arfa made a good run and found Lovenkrands who put his shot straight at Camp.

McGugan had a try from range but it was a pretty standard stop for Elliott, whilst a the other end naive defending from Moloney saw him concede a penalty to the easy-to-go-to-ground Marveaux.  Soft, but despite considerable debate in the stands I think it probably was a penalty.  Lovenkrands took it, and despite getting a hand to it Camp couldn’t keep it out.

Forest were quickly on the offensive again, Wes Morgan set Findley away on goal but the American striker’s control let him down and he ended up basically passing it back to Elliott.  We did get back on level terms again shortly though, a nice pass from Greening found Matt Derbyshire who deftly side-stepped the Newcastle keeper before popping the ball in from a tight angle.

We put on a bit of pressure then too – a ball slid through by McGugan headed towards Findley in the six yard box, Danny Simpson slid in to make the clearance and it appeared there was a decent chance of handball – naturally it wasn’t given.  Majewski was introduced for Moussi – who’d had an excellent game – which was a surprise.

Ishmael Miller was introduced for Matt Derbyshire with about six minutes left on the clock.  Shola Ameobi further demonstrated the referee’s blind-spot for black-and-white based infractions when he ignored the striker appearing to strike Joel Lynch in the face (albeit not particularly hard – maybe Joel should have gone to ground Joey Barton stylee?).

Reid was introduced as the final sub for Lewis McGugan who’d picked up a bit of a knock, as the game started to look like heading to extra time.  A poor clearance from Morgan gave Obertan a chance – but the put it over with an amusing mis-kick.  The last chances fell to the Reds with Moloney finding Miller but we could only force the corner, finally Findley squared back toward Lynch but Newcastle got the ball clear.

Extra time it was, then!  Two minutes in and Newcastle got the lead for the third time in the game – Simpson crossed from the right but the looping ball swerved into the net over Lee Camp at the far post.  A complete fluke – even admitted by the player to questions from the Clough Lower stand.  Forest responded well, a cross from Reid was headed off the underside of the bar by Lynch, the rebound headed over by Findley.

Newcastle started to slow the play down and frustrate – which saw the first period ground out with little momentum forward for Forest, and this looked set to continue into the second period too.  Patient work from Forest did start to bear fruit though – although a pea-roller from Reidy wasn’t likely to beat Elliott in the Newcastle goal.

Gunts almost gifted Ameobi a chance but his attempt deflected over for a corner that was ultimately safely dealt with by Lee Camp.  We levelled again after this, for the third time, when Miller broke loose and put a nice ball into the box, finding Tudgay unmarked to convert from close range to make the score 3-3, much like the previous round of the cup (also against the Magpies!).

Camp did well to claim a couple of crosses as Newcastle started to press to reclaim the lead they’d lost three times now – at the other end Tudgay was perhaps a little unlucky to put a volley on the turn just over – particularly when in the final minute of the game Coloccini rose at the far post to head in Obertan’s cross to win the game for the visitors.  A late effort from Majewski brought a late save from Elliott.

So a credible performance – which we’ve not said too much this season so far, let’s face it.  Plenty of positives – still some concerns, but the small crowd by and large seemed to enjoy the spectacle they’d witnessed – certainly it was light years from the non-performance against Derby at the weekend, that’s for sure.

A credible performance and no subsequent distraction of non-league fixtures until the FA Cup kicks in – aside from the exertion that extra time will have inflicted, that’s perhaps not a bad outcome if we’re thinking big picture.