Miller time for Forest with lucky win..

Watford – 0
Nottingham Forest – 1

It was ugly.  Forest reverted to a formation not seen since the early nineties, or used by particularly belligerent people on FIFA or in Football Manager (or indeed, back in the dark days when Danny Cullip joined two other central defenders in our ranks).  It was always going to be ugly.  Kind of understandable though, we have shipped too many goals, we needed to get a clean sheet by hook or by crook.

So Clint Hill made his debut as a third centre-half, with Lynch and Gunter asked to provide the width for our attack alongside three central midfielders and two strikers.  A 5-3-2 converting to 3-5-2.  The kind of crazy plan that could actually work, surely?  Or a final act of desperation as Steve McClaren tries his twentieth change of formation? (sic).

It looked a little something like this:

Gunter   Chambers   Morgan   Hill   Lynch
Greening    Moussi    McGugan
Findley  Miller

It was a sluggish start from both sides – Watford aren’t on a great run either, particularly at home where they’ve yet to register a win – whilst we’re well versed in the difficulties Forest have been suffering.  It was the home side that created the first opportunity – former Reds striker Joe Garner connecting with a Forsyth cross, but slipping as he struck it and missing the target.

Forest’s first chance fell to debutant Hill, who rose unmarked in the centre of the area to connect with a Lewis McGugan freekick that was just a little too high for him to be able to get over it to put his header on target.  On the break Carl Dickinson – a left back signed by Watford in the summer (are you watching, Forest?!) – looked dangerous but was well marshalled by Greening, having to settle for a corner.

Fans must have been clamouring to pop a bet on Joel Lynch for first goal – he had two bites of the cherry, latching onto a Miller flick on and hitting a shot at Loach’s near post which the keeper saved.  A cross or pull-back might’ve been a better option, but it won us a corner from which Lynch found himself with a free header at the back post which he really should’ve put on target – it went just wide.

At the other end Watford had perhaps the best goalscoring opportunity of the game – it fell for Joe Garner, after a nice bit of skill and an excellent cross from Marvin Sordell on the right hand side.  Garner got infront of Chambers and glanced a diving header towards the bottom corner which Lee Camp did very well to get a hand on to put it wide for a corner.  Camp seemed in general to have a bit more of his ‘strut’ back, which is good to see.

Lame claims for a penalty when Hill won the ball were nearly as bad as those our fans made at the other end earlier in the game when Moussi had performed a ludicrous dive that negated any contact he might have met.  After the home fans penalty appeal the referee ended up with further jeers from the crowd when he gave the Reds a freekick after Camp was impeded.

Half time and it looked like what I suppose it was – a slow and ponderous game between two struggling sides.  Both had created chances, but not many.  Forest had looked more solid in defence, but by no means impervious, but had really struggled to create much for Miller and Findley, both of whom I feel could’ve worked a little harder.

It’s not surprising their service suffered when you sacrifice a midfielder for a defender.  Lynch was probably our most dangerous outlet – which doesn’t speak too highly of Lewis either.  As Steve McClaren spent the game commuting between the stand and the touchline, we could merely hope that he’d have seen something with which to inspire an improved second half.

The second half didn’t start particularly energetically either – a nice ball by Moussi gave Gunter the opportunity to put the ball towards Miller who didn’t seem to be on his toes, allowing a challenge to come in to prevent an effort on goal.  Good work from the impressive-again Joel Lynch released McGugan to put a cross in, which was a little too high for Miller to profit from.

As the Reds started to run out of steam though, Watford tails were starting to prick up – that change in emphasis we’ve seen a few times already this season, when an opponent realises that we’re not actually all that composed at the moment, and if they press us they will unlock opportunities to cause us damage.  That’s what the home side started to do.

Forsyth was slipped through one-one-one with Lee Camp who was out quickly to him, and happy to make the save with his legs – it was a poor connection from the Watford player who should really be looking to clip the ball over Camp into the empty goal.  Moments later Eustace had all the time in the world on the edge of our area to clip a ball to the back post where Garner opted for an over-elaborate diving header and put it wide.

Just as on Twitter I was lamenting how lazy Miller had been, I had the delightful serving of humble-pie to enjoy as a long kick forward by Camp was left by Watford’s big ugly centre half presumably as he’d had a shout – either way, he missed it, his partner missed it, the keeper wasn’t out quick enough and Miller was able to get a touch on the ball to put it past Loach and into the net.  A great piece of opportunism.

Realising quite how fortunate we were Forest started to look a lot more withdrawn, understandably.  Derbyshire was introduced for Findley who’d struggled to get into the game at all in the second half.  Reid came on shortly after, replacing Lewis McGugan.  Forest were increasingly sitting deep and Watford throwing a little more caution to the wind, so it was nervy stuff for the Reds.

Yeates struck a freekick from range which perhaps was designed to get a touch from a player in the box, it didn’t and Camp was in the right place to make an easy gather.  Tudgay was introduced for match-winner Miller, and within a couple of minutes had profited from a defensive mistake to pick up the ball, step outside a defender to hit a decent left-footed strike from the edge of the area which Loach needed to dive low to save.

The last chance came for the home side, Eustace side-footing an effort through a crowded box which Camp saved, fumbled then gathered.  A more powerful shot from Eustace would surely have produced a goal for the home side.  It would have been frustrating, but hard to claim that they weren’t good value for a draw on the balance of play and chances over the course of the game.

Still, as McClaren himself said – it was a horrible win, but it was a win we needed.  We profited from some good fortune at both ends of the pitch, just as other sides have done against us – so whilst Watford will be feeling hard done to, I’m not going to feel too bad about it – needs must, and those much-needed three points put us up to eighteenth in the table, above Watford.

I’m not sure that 5-3-2 is the answer, though.  Whilst Lynch continues to catch the eye, it doesn’t seem to be a formation to bring the best out of Gunter.

17 Responses

  1. good review of a sticky game and an understandably uncertain performance. Still, a win is a win and one which might instil some much needed confidence which might well bring another 3 points.

  2. Almost as important as the win for me was the clean sheet. Statistically we’re conceding an average 1.9 (call it 2) goals per game this season across all competitions. That is way too high, and a number that Schteve will have to reduce if we’re to climb the league. If we have to stick 5 at the back to achieve that, so be it!

  3. Nice to see Camp getting back to his old form.
    We still need a captain,and it certainly isn’t Chambo !
    His performances will improve when he can just concentrate on his own game.
    Burnley will be a tougher test,but maybe Lewis was saving himself for this one ! Let’s hope so !

  4. As ever a comprehensive summary of the Day. For sue it was an ugly win but that was preferable to a pretty loss. I too am unconvinced by the formation. You need pacey wingbacks to make that work and Lynch is just not that although I thought he was Forest’s best player on the day.   In fact he’s not even a left back but I’m sure that might have been mentioned before.  Did Gunter play?  I know he was on the pitch!

    I’d  love to take solace from the performance of the back 3 but I am sadly more convinced that was as much about a poor Watford team than a good red defence!  A well taken goal by miller after a laboured performance and nice to see another team produce keystone cop defending. Thought the attack laboured overall  but the midfield offered them little; lacklustre was the way I saw it with nobody driving the game.  Indeed, I watched the game on my iphone from the side of my Fathers bed in QMC and thought there was more life in the old boys on the ward at times than the players on the pitch; I worry about the lethargy of the team. That said it was good to see a more confident Campy strutting about. For me the best moment of the game, other than the goal and the final whistle was Jonathan Greening’s comment “Andy Reids alway been a chunky fella, I think he missed pre-season!”

    Still a wins a win and we needed it!  Let’s hope it kick starts a revival. 

  5. Quality comments from Deeping and spot on as usual nffc with your observations.They are a poor side to the Watford of last season and we are even worse in my opinion we looked like 2 punch drunk boxers slugging it out at the end of there careers .

    Too many people not doing enough and hiding on the pitch ,

    Findley looked like an old man
    Mcgugan was terrible
    Gunter a headless chicken
    zero width or link up play

    I thought I was watching a side under Megson or Smoulderwood thats how bad I think we have become under this regime.And I will stick to my guns and still believe we are going one way under this management team from bad to worse and lack any passion or drive we are a shadow of the team under billy MA & ND are responsible for this decision.

    I fear for us big time a decent side would have stuck 2 or 3 past us yesterday I thank Joe Garner he was our best player I thought.More pain and heartache awaits Im afraid its going to be a very long tough season next home game the chant is ” are you Megson in disguise ” ..Shteve isnt the answer im afraid we were very lucky ……………..

  6. RedRic is spot on – this was a fortunate win to say the least
    we were dreadful to watch ( so were Watford btw) . Very league oneish.

    Back onto Marthur – Schteve is in such a predicament we all know due to serial ineptitude in transfer windows and a DIckensian approach to man management ( Tyson, Earny – Billy himself ).

    We have witnessed breathtaking mismanagment in detail since May – a exciting team of pace, fluency and confident skill last season has in a few weeks gone to the dogs – reduced to longball hot potato clogging a la megson.

    what the ……

  7. Wasn’t a good performance by any means. I agree that Camp remembering he’s a goalkeeper was a big positive. Otherwise it was just a lucky 3 points to temporarily paper over the cracks.

    Still 42 more points an elephant sized portion of bullish@t from our bewildering board and it’s job done for another season for ND and MA.

  8. […] the original post on Through the seasons before […]

  9. Here is a belter from the ” People ” website

    Nigel Clough could follow in his fathers footsteps and become Nottingham Forest boss if Steve McClaren fails to turn things around
    Sep 25 2011 by Alan Nixon

    Wow what a quality decision that would be NLN to the city ground the man has as much rapport with Forest fans as a lampost .

  10. Saturday’s visit to Vicarage Road felt like a step back in time. The old ground feels like a 1970s place, near the town centre a short walk past chippies and market stall burgers. One side of the ground has no seating – just dilapidated old terrace, and it seems there are some run down flats in one corner of the ground too!! In a third corner there is a huge screen which showed TV pictures of the game, complete with a sponsorship boards of Football Manager!! Credit to them though, the pitch whilst marked out to be as small as regulations allow (to suit their game) was in great nick.

    A step back in time but one with charm and nostalgia (unlike Bristol which has all the worst features of old grounds and is long overdue a visit from the bulldozers)

    Very good to see how much Watford were celebrating their academy too – big splash in the programme, celebration of recent silverware, and a half time training display. (Something Forest could learn from)

    As for the game: The positives – As well as a solid debut for Hill who showed the beginnings of some vocal leadership at the back and the return of the real Lee Camp, Tudgay quite bright – a pace and desire that shows he wants to fight for a place not simply pick up a pay cheque. Greening had one of his better games too.

    On the other hand, we struggled to string many passes together, and had long spells of hit n hope, as the midfield didn’t link up the team. Bad day at the office for Google. Radi can feel aggrieved he didn’t get a run out in the second half.

    Schteve has finally hit on a winning strategy: Play awfully, create nothing, and wait for your opponent to gift you a goal. Hmm. Probably not what ND and MA had in mind when trading in the Wee Scot.

    Still, if he’s teaching them anything, its flexibility in formation. By my count so far we’ve played: 4-4-2, 4-4-2 diamond, 4-2-3-1, 4-3-3 and now 5-3-2.

    I know good sides need to learn how to win ugly. That wasnt just ugly. That was Peter-Beardley’s-face-with-Steve-Bruce’s-Nose Ugly.

    Interesting to see how we approach the Burnley game on Tues. I don’t think more of the same will do the trick. But at this stage, with the points we have, I’d take any way to avoid more losses.

  11. Ha ha – nice one husky Red – Peter Bruce or Steve Beardsley would be quite something!

    Have to say I think we went with one intention – clean sheet – and we got it. I thought Camp was way better than in the Derby game, and a bit like his old self. Chambo did a lot of talking and Wes was solid. Yes, Watford were a poor side, but we have to start somewhere. Well done, defence.

    Up front, I think that was Findley’s poorest game, but in his defence all he got was balls lumped up into the air, and he had no chance with that service. Miller looked really slow to me, but he did keep chasing, which was good to see. I’m still wondering where our 20-goal-a-season man is.

  12. Excellent summary as usual. I watched this one on TV and I couldn’t help feeling embarrassed about how crap it all was: two teams in big trouble trying not to lose.

    The best thing about it was the win and what that might do for our confidence. Also Hill looked solid and Wes, Chambers and Camp all looked a little more like their old selves. Shocking game though and, as others have said, even the formation itself spoke volumes about how far we’ve sunk since BD left. I close my eyes sometimes and think about the last league match of last season: a 3-0 stroll against Palace in the sunshine, the play-offs ahead and even McGoldrick belting one in from 30 yards. Bittersweet.

    And what’s got into Lewis??

  13. its a sad story ….forest were terrible ….very amature …really shocking ..wolly with the brolly is not good for our club !

  14. I wonder if the improvement’s in performance by Camp, Wes and Chambers are, in any way, linked to the reported (admittedly the NEP) opening of negotiations around new contracts!!??!!

    Also, and I realise this may inflame a number of opinions, the more I think about it, the more I realise what a complete mess Billy left us in – 10 players released / let go / transferred – none of whom any of us would really like to keep in order to support a promotion push (other than Earnie, perhaps) and a number of significant players coming to the end of their contracts …….

    Just a thought ……..

  15. As the TV cameras kept scanning the empty stand to find McClaren in yet another viewing place, all that was missing was the caption ‘Where’s Wally (with the brolly)?’

    Im sure we’re all glad to get the win but what a terrible game of football to witness. I find it hard to blame the players too much when they are playing yet another new formation.

    How ironic was it that we beat long ball Watford with a classic route one goal?!

  16. …………King Billy left us in a mess ?????? i thought he was sacked stevesb………………..dont think we are gonna see the play offs ………we will be struggling to stay up …..the wolly is a wally ! just a number 2 !! in the real meaning

  17. I dont give a rats arse how ugly it was it was..

    a) a win
    b) a clean sheet.

    Don’t be under any illusion we are in a scrap to stay up. Every point counts. We need to knock off the team below us and scrap points from the teams above us.

    Team that have clean sheets don’t get relegated. At this stage 1-0 is a bonus 0-0 would also do away from home.

    Steve (SB) I cannot agree with your comment, BD did a good job with what he had I thin he was doing his job and with a 3rd year left on his contract I would have thought that he deserved another year. I am not privy to the board and management meetings but from an outsider he was doing well.

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