Blackpool – 1
Nottingham Forest – 2
What a difference a new Steve makes, eh? Blackpool have proven a considerable thorn in the side of our recent history, so a win at their place shouldn’t be downplayed. Even the announcer during the half time ‘zorb’ competition between a Tangerine and a Reds fan announced smugly “And Blackpool beat Forest… again!” as their fan got his slightly-more-inflated-looking ball over the finish line before the Reds fan.
Certainly there was fortune involved, some wasteful finishing from the home side is a factor – then again, some adversity too – a questionable refereeing performance left us finishing the game without Guy Moussi, victim of two ludicrously soft bookings that would see games across the country called off due to lack of players if they became the norm for referees. But anyway, the boys dug in and ground out the result – so that’s a fairly inconsequential fly in the ointment.
With Clint Hill disappointingly recalled to QPR it meant a re-jig in personnel – Gunter moved from right midfield to left back, with Greening coming from the bench into a narrower looking midfield.. something like this, but with Lewis perhaps a bit more advanced and ‘free-er’ in where you might find him on the pitch, resulting often in a more narrow midfield than we saw against Middlesbrough in midweek..
Chambers Morgan Lynch Gunter
McGugan Greening Moussi Majewski
The first half was pretty scrappy – there were few clear cut chances early doors, a cross from Tudgay was heading towards Miller but Gilks was able to intercept it fairly easily. The home side was posing little threat either – the first job Lee Camp really needed to do was claim a corner under pressure from two home players. Meanwhile at the other end a freekick from McGugan fell at the back post but Chambers just headed over.
Forest continued to edge an edgy half – an effort from around twenty yards from Miller deflected, taking the sting out of it and providing Gilks with an easy save to make. Meanwhile the home side too were starting to fashion chances – a cross from Eardley also deflected making Camp’s life a little difficult – but he was able to gather it. Moussi lost out to Shelvey whose cross was hammered somehow clear by Morgan when an own-goal looked a real danger.
From this point the half sprung more into life – a delicious left-footed cross by Luke Chambers of all people found Marcus Tudgay, who did well to get a looping header on it whilst jumping backwards. A smart save by Gilks gave Forest the corner – amazingly, a corner that we actually eventually score from – will wonders never cease?
McGugan’s corner found its’ way to the back post where Wes managed to rise to plant a header low into the corner. Question marks should probably be asked about both defending and goalkeeping – but hell, we’ll take it regardless! As ever though, those crucial couple of minutes after scoring a goal were almost our undoing again. The red herring in this encounter is Miller being on the ground during the build-up – a la Derby (albeit not a serious injury), this wasn’t the issue I took exception to – the ref should’ve played on.
However the referee ignored the fact that McGugan had been felled by Eardley and let play go on, Chambers stood off Phillips who turned and hit a well-placed shot into the bottom corner – but really Lee Camp should be asking himself a few questions too. You kind of expect idiot refereeing these days, so that doesn’t make up for the subsequent mistakes our lads made. Half time and all level, perhaps a little harshly but it had been a closely contested half.
Forest started the second half brightly – Raddy and Tudgay worked well together to fashion a cross which was cleared uncomfortably by Cathcart for a Forest corner. Lewis put in another good delivery which Chambers headed off-target when he really should’ve done better. As the momentum seemed to be waning Cotterill made a couple of changes – introducing Derbyshire and Moloney for Miller and Greening respectively.
The home side were looking dangerous though, particularly through former Notts County loanee Thomas Ince who beguiled the Forest defence with both pace and trickery – having an effort on goal that hit the side netting. Not helping Forest’s cause was the referee who seemed to only have eyes for falling over Blackpool players – of course, I only have eyes for falling over Forest players so maybe my own bias is creeping in there.
Ince created a great chance for Phillips to net again, but the experienced front man conspired to miss from about two yards out. Ince again burst into the area and beat both Gunter and Derbyshire with some great footwork, he looked to have beaten Camp with his shot too which cannoned off the post – Forest eventually managing to get the ball clear. Proper backs-against-the-wall stuff, it was starting to look like.
Just as we feared the worst though, something unexpected occurred. A long throw into the box from the left by Gunter was either nodded back by Derbyshire or badly cleared by a defender (even after watching the replay I can’t work it out!) – either way, it fell invitingly for Majewski who swept the ball on the half-volley through the legs of both defender and goalkeeper from around ten yards to give Forest the lead somewhat against the run of play.
The celebrations were naturally jubilant – Moussi ended up on the other side of the advertising board, but didn’t make any contact with the supporters yet was carded by the referee somewhat harshly. Moussi’s actions were no more than you see at any game (we’ve seen a LOT of opposing players celebrating goals afterall). It was to prove a costly piece of harsh judgement from the referee.
Taking the lead gave Forest initial impetus though, Majewski turned provider to hold up the ball and tee up Moloney who struck a decent effort, but not too difficult for Gilks to gather. The home side were starting to build up their own momentum though. Derbyshire was booked for being fouled, and shortly after Moussi got his marching orders – he did clip their player who went down like he’d been shot, it was a foul – a booking? Maybe I guess. Obviously added to his earlier ridiculous card though it made for a sending off. Frustrating!
The Reds reshuffled quite quickly, Cotterill taking off the similarly harshly-carded Derbyshire to prevent something similar happening to him – and replacing him with Andy Reid to add more ballast (sorry, Reidy!) to midfield. It’s the first we’ve seen of him under the new manager and he certainly cut a more dynamic figure than we’ve seen so far last season – he took up position on the left, sending Raddy to the middle and barked orders to his teammates.
It was mostly defending for Forest from here on – and the lads dug in admirably to deny Blackpool with blocks and tackles aplenty. It’s true that Phillips missed another golden opportunity, as did Shelvey, but the Reds managed to clear their lines after each attack had broken on them and get the ball clear to safety. Admittedly it usually came straight back, but ultimately we weren’t to be breached again.
The reaction from the players at the final whistle spoke volumes – they mostly stopped and dropped to the ground. They were knackered, they’d put in a tremendous effort and got a cracking result. Once they’d had the chance to take stock they naturally joined the raucous celebrations going on in the away end. Whilst I have no malice at all towards Blackpool, it did feel a bit cathartic finally getting a result against them, I must admit.
Not a classic though – all three goals were eminently preventable, but three things we can’t be denied are much needed points. Still some way to go, but Cotterill’s is already a couple of points shy of what McClaren had managed to accomplish after ten games in the league. Onwards and upwards, hopefully!
Filed under: Matches |