Olé, olé olé olé, Tudgay, Tudgay!

Tonight's heroes - Tuds the workhorse gets the goal, but the Lynch-pin really stands out in defence again..

Nottingham Forest – 1
Reading – 0

It wasn’t pretty – but three points is three points and despite only elevating us to the heady heights of nineteenth in the table, that’s what counts right now for us.  Reading didn’t come and play like a team on an eight match unbeaten run.  The game threatened to go the way of the weekend game against Hull, but for an improved second half which eventually brought about the much needed breakthrough.

Cotterill made what I described on Twitter as ‘common sense’ changes to the team – Miller is injured, and was well below-par at the weekend (possibly carrying aforementioned injury) so was replaced with Findley, whilst Moussi back from suspension dropped into midfield at the expense of Greening.  Sensible moves in my book, giving us a team that looked like this:

Chambers   Morgan   Lynch   Cunningham
Gunter    Moussi    McGugan    Majewski
Tudgay   Findley

Early in the game my fears borne of last season’s mauling by Reading started to look justified – the Reds struggled to get the ball out their own half.  A tackle by Wes Morgan and a claim of a cross by Lee Camp thwarted early pressure from the visitors who looked began the game reasonably confidently.

We thought we’d snagged a goal when the ball fell kindly for Tudgay at close range – he put it away tidily only to be greeted with the offside flag.  On first viewing I thought the linesman probably called it right, but driving home Steve Cotterill sounded adamant in his post-match interview that there were a couple of defenders playing him on.  It will be interesting to see if the scant highlights we see from midweek games include it to see again.

At the other end Robson-Kanu was making life difficult for Chambers – he managed to get a cross in which was ably dealt with by Lynch (aka ‘The Lynch Pin’).  A bit of luck smiled upon us too – McAnuff hit a decent effort which appeared to beat Camp and hit the woodwork, the rebound falling for Gorkks who dithered for too long and allowed Camp to claim the ball.

Another let-off followed thanks to the wasteful finishing of Adam Le Fondre, who blazed over when he should really be scoring after good work from Leigertwood.  As for us, we just couldn’t keep hold of the ball – we weren’t closing down and certainly weren’t winning the second ball.  We livened up a little, an odd corner saw Lewis hit it hard and low to Raddy who tried to swivel and shoot but put it over.

A decent break from the Reds saw McGugan felled by Alex Pearce, I thought in the area quite obviously (but then I always do), the referee thought not and gave us a free kick right on the edge.  Lewis took it himself, and struck it powerfully straight into the wall – eventually it was cleared.  Another freekick from Lewis was drilled low into the box, it hit a couple of defenders, almost fell for Tuds who put his shot over from in the area.

I won’t lie, it was  dull first half – there were chances for both sides though, I suppose.  Cotterill apparently thought the same from the way Luke Chambers described the half time exchange in his post-match interview.  There needed to be more endeavour, more workrate and something to wake the disappointingly low crowd from their slumbers – just over 18,000 Forest fans in the ground with a fairly modest following of 446 fans from Reading making the trip.

Reid replaced Majewski for the start of the second half, and moved to sit behind Tudgay, with Findley moving to the left wing.  The second half certainly started more positively from a Reds perspective.  A delivery from the left into the box from McGugan caused some uncertainty in the box, but was eventually cleared after a couple of attempts.

The Reds began to look a bit more like breaking the deadlock though – even deliveries from corners weren’t completely shocking as they have been of late – a McGugan corner almost found Chambers in the box.  Tudgay – working hard to hold the ball up and be a threat up front with sometimes fairly limited support – latched onto a pass from Findley and fashioned a shooting chance from the D, the set-up was better than the shot which was pretty much straight at the keeper.

Loan-man Cunningham was having a decent game in defence too – he was on hand to block an effort from Karacan, again fortune favoured us somewhat when the rebound fell for Cummings who missed the target on the follow-up.

We eventually grabbed the lead with fifteen minutes on the clock.  Reid had lost the ball, but pleasingly worked back to help get it back – eventually it came to McGugan who fed Chambers who’d overlapped down the right, he put in a nice cross in to Tudgay who showed great skill in controlling, turning and striking a decent shot past the keeper and in off the far post in the Trent End goal.  A fitting reward for his hard work of late.

This really helped to give the ailing crowd a boost, and seemed in turn to spur on the Forest players.  A nice run from McGugan was halted cynically by Cummings, the resulting freekick being hit by the fouled man and nearly catching out Federici at his near-post.  A corner after, this time from Reid, was cleared as far as McGugan who tried his luck from range but missed the target.

Cotterill shored up a little by introducing Moloney for Findley, taking up position on the left of midfield (so that’s two right backs on the pitch, playing on both wings, with a centreback at right back – and we thought Smoulderwood was a sod for square pegs and round holes!!).  He pinged in a lovely shot shortly after coming on though, after Reid and McGugan had been playing keep-ball in the corner.  Federici was alert enough to make the save at his near post from Moloney’s well-struck shot though.

Into stoppage time and Reading – who’d been very quiet in the second half – finally started to show some urgency and came bloody close to equalising.  A cross came in from the right, and Le Fondre got a decent header on it looking like it was going to get across Camp and in, but the Reds ‘keeper was able to parry it away, and make sure it wasn’t into the path of other onrushing Reading players, allowing us to get the ball clear and to safety.  A cracking save.

All in all, a very welcome three points indeed.  If I’d had the chance to do a preview I’d have been somewhat reticent to predict a home win – but perhaps reflect that with Reading typically likely to play a more open style of football than the Hull City’s of this world, it might give us opportunities.  As it turns out, this was a pretty closed-off encounter too between two teams perhaps not at their attacking best at the moment.

It doesn’t matter though – it’s all about points on the board for the Reds in these early games of Steve Cotterill’s tenure.  As he said himself post-match, our job is to play our part and get behind him and the boys as much as possible to spur them on.  Preferably by not spouting the usual fate-tempting masterpieces like ‘How shit must you be, we’re winning at home!’ type songs – don’t you people learn from games like against Birmingham?!

To finish on a completely unrelated-t0-Forest note – it was really saddening to hear about Doncaster Rovers striker Billy Sharp losing his baby son this week just days after his birth.  What a brave thing to have played this evening – and how great he notched a goal that he dedicated to the memory of Louie Sharp.  Rest in peace, Louie, and I’m sure I can feel safe in extending mine and all Forest fans best wishes to Billy and his family.

23 Responses

  1. Bloody Brillant!!!!

    After the start we had..

    I like the fact that we stopped leaking goals.

    Its is a long way away but if we can be the better side of mid table by Christmas we should have a solid platform to build on next season.

  2. Keep writting man…and I’ll keep reading…. C’mon Uuuuu Redss….

  3. Nervous last 5 minutes,but well played !!
    Tudgay has pleasantly surprised me,and I never expected Lynch to be a man of the match !!
    Keep up the hard work forest and look forward to Ando and Blackstock back soon !

  4. Great result. Good write up.

    With reference to the chanting the first time that I heard the ‘were playing alright…. how shit must you be…. were playing alright’ was from the West Ham fans at our place. That along with several other chants caused me to ring my Hammer supporting mate and tell him how great there fans were, funny, witty chanting and noisy. I particularly liked the ‘Is there a fire drill’ chant as our supporters filed out early. My point is that these chants should be taken in the manner they are intended…. its just a bit of a laugh. I think we should keep chanting it, especially if we go on a massive unbeaten run at hoe or summut.

  5. Forget about football well done for mentioning Billy Sharps little boy dying and he playing and scoring what a hero.I have a wee boy and he must have been devastated him and his Mrs R .I .P wee man.

    Well done to all the lads and the staff what a difference when you get football people back running the club its literally that simple.Team spirit is back we lack quality still and pace but that will come over the next few weeks.

    U reds

  6. 9 points out of 12 since Cotterill (he needs a nickname NFFC!) took control. I think, in view of the teams we played, I would have settled for 4. It’s clear he has built moral, I just hope he can get them playing nicer football. But what a turn around from 3 weeks ago. He’s changed my opinion of him somewhat and at least he’s more honest and calls it like it is. The future is definitely brighter.

    U reeeeds!

  7. Would like to say a word about our new manager ” Our Steve ” he wasnt the signing most fans wanted and I was a bit skeptical myself to be honest.

    He comes across as very passionate and honest and he has made some very positive decisions regarding the team over the last few weeks.The players have been motivated by him and clearly respect his
    tactics and decisions major credit to him and those who chose him.

    Lets not forget the guy took on a mess and he will be fully aware of the fickle element that exists within our ranks.Well done Steve you have showed you have big balls and in my book a very practical hardworking and switched on football manager I wish you all the best.

    Cotterills Red Army

  8. Great result – three wins from four whilst not conceding a bucket load of goals is just what we needed.

    I thought that given Greening’s improved performance on Saturday he might have got the nod over Moussi. He’s maybe got a little more to prove and Moussi didn’t really play very well. A few times I thought that he could’ve looked forward and run into space to open up a pass rather than instantly looking left or right to give it to someone else.

    Tudgay played well, it seemed like the first time in a long time that I’ve seen him control the ball outside the area and take on a player to then have a shot – something our strikers never really seem to do and hence probably why they aren’t currently seen as game-changers. Miller is the only one who takes people on or runs with the ball.

    Often I think that we play it a little safe. I saw Findley a few times have the ball and rather than pushing it forward he just laid it back to someone. Most openings, attacking moves, etc in the Championship come from when a player brings the ball forward on his own before passing it or switching play.

    Overall though I’m a happy Red and I really hope we get something at Pompy at the weekend. Surely there is no better time to be playing them than now.

    1 – We’ve had good results
    2 – they are still managerless so the players have a ready made excuse
    3 – our manager was their manager so he should know exactly how to beat them
    4 – their only win in their last four came against Donny who are rock bottom

    I for one am confident we can at least get a draw or maybe scrap a win which would be perfect to take into the international break. Imagine that 4 wins from 5 and then Cotterill has time to work with the players on things, regroup, get players back from injury, and just lift the mood again ready to start from fresh running up to Christmas.


    WHY OH WHY when the opposition have a freekick or corner do we insist on having ALL outfield players coming back to defend???

    Can we not leave just one player on the halfway line just in case?? Would it make any difference to the defending?

    I’m sure that if it was Findley or Miller, two players who are quick, that over a season we’d benefit from the ball being played out to them or those players receiving clearances which would result in potential attacks, a freekick high up the pitch against them, and/or goal scoring chances.

    Calderwood used to get everyone back, Billy did, Steve “Come for the journey” McClaren did, and now Cotterill gets em to do it!!


    • I reckon/hope, this is an attempt to shore up the red sea of a defence that we’ve had thus far. I don’t mind a couple of months of frugality in attack giving us a solid defence. We’ve got to build from the back, the loss of McKenna has probably been our most key, especially with Boateng currently on the sidelines.

      • I used to think the same but then even when we were flying under Davies he still told the players to get back.

        I just wonder if for the sake of having one player stay up whether we’d cut the number of times a ball is cleared only to come straight back at us.

        The opposition generally have a man on the halfway line and then another about 15 yards in front of him. So in theory we’ve got 11 v 8 in the box (our keeper included). Maybe just one player left wide or something it might give us the chance to hold up the play and give everyone chance to get out and push up.

        BUT, like you say, if in the short term it means we concede less goals and build both a good defensive unit and start making the City Ground solid again then I’m all for it.


        • Well Craig – i think its all about tactics. Normally most of the teams have 3 players to defend the goal (goalkeeper plus 2 players on each sides). That means you have 8 players left.

          The attacking team often have 2 men to defend in every situation anyway. That means they also have 8 players left. So the defending team can in reality man-mark every player on the other team – and use the goalkeeper to get the ball away – if they have to. If they choose to take out the keeper you can either put a guy to take him away from the keeper or have a man in a free role – like often Dawson have. So i think this gives the defending team more options, and normally conceed less goals on corners.

          But i do understand why you ask questions about it. I guess its 50/50 what managers choose to do. Some teams play zone defending on corners, some other dont need all the men back if they have many big strong men to defend.

          • Just on this: interesting that Newcastle sometimes left two men up whne they were defending against Stoke the other night. That’s Newcastle with the best defence in the Premier League and up against one of the best set-piece teams in the country.

  10. Seems like we’re winning without playing well, the mark of a good team! Great to see the defence playing more like a unit, at the start of the season it was like they had forgotten how to play or where they were. I’ve put an offensive wide player on my Christmas list, fingers crossed.

    And, well played Billy. In this age of ‘modern footballers’ with more money than sense, refusing to play, reverting to r@cism, it’s heart-warming to see the spirit of the game bubbling away in the second tier. RIP

  11. Not only has cotterill done an amazing job, but when you think he can’t really change his side that makes it even more impressive. No cohen, blackstock, anderson, mcclairy, boateng, lost hill from his loan, then moussi suspended. Now no miller, mcgoldrick was on loan to sheffield wednesday. Just think what he can do when he starts getting some players back in the squad to pick from. And billy sharp must be one of the bravest men in football. Fuck your rooney’s, terry’s, cole’s and all the other heartless footballers that are horrible heartless people. Thank god there’s still players like billy sharp that show they have pride, guts, spirit and most of all down to earth, honest and not just out for himself. Good luck for the future mr sharp and sorry about the loss of your son. God bless rip baby sharp

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

  13. I know that chant’s a bit of a skit at the team but with the majority of home fans at grounds these days being notoriously quiet, I’d rather the fans were singing something rather than nothing. I remember the days where the old Trent End was full of wit and used to have some good banter with the players, such as the carrots for Tony Adams, the, (short lived), Currie and Rice song from around 1989/90, the “Oggy, Oggy, Oggy” song for Steve Ogrizivic when playing Cov, “One eyed Stevie, Steve one eye!” Sutton, “Norman giz a twist!”,etc. The atmosphere just doesn’t compare these days now we’re all forced to sit down and shut up.

    The West Ham fans were quite amusing with their songs. I wonder if they were singing them v Brizzle City, though?…

  14. Overall a major improvement is underway and credit to the players firstly and Steve C . Its clear Mucklaren left the club right in the claggy after 10 games or so ….a breathtaking achievement .

    Lynch was better than Vidic yesterday – premiership class .
    Tuds also a real strong performer ! ureds

    Marthur out …..

  15. You always get it spot on NFFC & no where more so than with your great touch to mention Billy Sharp. My heart really goes out to his family and what a credit he is to his profession and also the Championship.

  16. i’m so happy for Lynch. I feel like he thoroughly deserved the man of the match and if he didn’t get it it would have been an injustice.

  17. I agree Findley should be left up for corners !! It gives the opposition something to think about,trying to stop a clearence reaching him.
    All good comments !! Well done Everyone who contributes to our favourite blog !!

  18. I like to be the first and not the last to say that I was wrong about Lynch…….he must be the most improved player on the books but he is playing in his position now. I may also have to eat humble pie about Mr C, but better that than the other way around?

    Well done for the comments on Billy S, to lose your son must be……well words fail me to, lose him within 48 hours……………………..!!!!!! Hope he score a sackful of goals this season, but not against us.

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