Reds can’t Fratton down the hatches..

Portsmouth – 3
Nottingham Forest – 0

“We dominated” said Steve Cotterill after the game – certainly the Reds gaffer has some justification in feeling aggrieved at fate, who conspired to let Forest control big chunks of the game – but then, you know what? You can’t really feel too hard done to when the other team proved more adept at dominating one critical part of the game, a part we’ve struggled with of late.  Finishing.  Taking chances.  We didn’t dominate that.

That was to be our undoing – and whilst I agree with the gaffer that the scoreline is incredibly flattering to the home side, I’m perhaps not quite as surprised (he has, after all, only been with the club for 20-something days, let’s not forget).  He just made the one change, putting Greening in at the expense of Majewski in an otherwise unchanged squad from the previous match:

Chambers   Morgan    Lynch    Cunningham
Gunter    Moussi    McGugan    Greening
Tudgay    Findley

The home side started in positive frame of mind – two corners early doors for them, but it looked like being a false dawn.  The Reds grabbed the game by the scruff of the neck and started to dominate possession and territory.  Robbie Findley burst through onto a flick-on, but his effort missed the target under the attentions of a Pompey defender.  It was the American again looking to score, this time from 25 yards with an effort on target.

A lovely move from Forest saw Gunts make a run down the right hand side, and cross the ball in to an unmarked McGugan who didn’t make the best connection with his shot, leaving Henderson with a relatively easy save.  Further attacking saw Tudgay and McGugan combining, but the eventual cross from McGugan went straight through the area, evading any opportunity for a Forest player to convert.

With half an hour approaching Portsmouth started to come back into the game – Huseklepp started to look menacing, but his advances were stopped by Chambers.  Kitson too was starting to prove a threat, but a deflection off Guy Moussi took the ball wide.  At the other end Lewis McGugan put a freekick on target which Henderson did well to tip over the bar.  The resulting corner caused some consternation for Pompey, but Moussi’s delivery back into the box after a poor clearance was straight to the keeper.

As the half came to a close the home side again threatened, Razak played the ball through the defence towards Varney, Lee Camp was fast to advance from his line but lost control of the ball – but fortunately Wes Morgan was on hand to put the ball out for a corner.  They did get the lead before the break though, a freekick-which-wasn’t-a-freekick (according to Cotterill – I wasn’t so sure and it wasn’t featured in the Football League Show highlights).

Regardless, a freekick was struck excellently by Hayden Mullins – striking the join of post and crossbar before falling favourably for Huseklepp who finished with aplomb, curling the ball into the top corner.  Frustrating but not entirely unusual for Forest to fail to take advantage of domination possession and not exactly carving out cast-iron chances (that said, Lewis really should’ve done better with his mis-controlled effort from Gunter’s cross!).

The second half begun with a much more confident looking home side – Razak again fed the ball to Varney who pulled it back for Norris, who would’ve doubled Pompey’s lead but for an excellent save by Lee Camp.  Kitson too threatened but under pressure from Camp again wasn’t able to hit the target.

At the other end unusually a McGugan corner found a Forest head (sorry Lewis!) but Chambers’ header was blocked by Mullins for another corner.  McGugan again caused problems from a setpiece, this time a freekick, a delivery right into the crowded area deflected off a Forest player but loooped up and over the bar.

It looked like we might have got the equaliser when Tudgay got the ball to Findley who wriggled and turned free in the area, getting a despairing stab on the ball which looked to be heading towards the top corner, but for a cracking save from Henderson to put the ball out for a corner.  It was the kind of run of play that started to make you feel like it was never going to be our day (it never seems to be at Fratton Park!).

At the other end the troublesome Huseklepp was drifting his way past a couple of defenders before Cunningham was able to prevent him causing further damage.  Gunter had another chance for us, Cunningham had crossed and it was cleared badly, falling for the makeshift winger who got completely under the ball and spooned it over the bar.  As, of course, we were building some pressure and daring to dream again, the opposite happened!

With a little under a quarter of an hour to go Portsmouth doubled their lead – their first corner of the half was delivered well into the near post where Dave Kitson rose and headed in.  Gutting.  Cotterill’s answer to this was to replace Joel Lynch with David McGoldrick and reshuffle the team around (Chambers to the middle, Gunter to right back, McGoldrick into the amorphous entity that is our attack/midfield).

It didn’t really do the trick – six minutes to go and the game was out of sight – a cross from the right was badly dealt with, it came back from the other side and eventually Huseklepp was there to turn the ball in.  It could’ve been four too, in truth – Greg Halford headed into the floor from 4 yards and the ball bounced over the bar, a spectacularly bad miss!  Oh yeah, Reid came on for McGugan at some point too, and that didn’t make much odds either.

To be honest, the 3-0 scoreline is a bit of a misnomer, it does flatter Portsmouth – but I’m not quite so red-tinted in my outlook as the gaffer seems to be.  That we didn’t defend better for all three goals is a concern, and that – for all our possession – we didn’t cause more problems to the Pompey defence.  If we’d lost 1-0 it would perhaps not seem so bad, but a 3-0 scoreline always jars even if it seems a little on the harsh side.

A home game is up next before the international break – Paul Jewell’s spectacularly inconsistent Ipswich side are our visitors.  We could use a win.  Oh, and on a much more cheerful note, a big hello to Twitter sensation Wesley Hall who has apparently been utilising the blog to get up to speed on the world of Nottingham Forest that he’s been thrust into unawares!

10 Responses

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

  2. Great post as ever, NFFC. Thanks for the perspective. As for Steve’s post match comments, if nothing else, I like the fact that he is putting a positive spin on everything so far. After 4 months of McLaren’s constant moaning, listening to Cotterill feels like we haven’t lost too much with one bad result and there’s hope for the next game. I think we can all agree that being constantly reminded about past mistakes can create for a lack of motivation to improve.

    Anyway, not a great result but I’d still take 3 wins in 5 after the start we had to the season. Onwards and upwards and a few weeks to train will have Cotterill’s ideas embedded.

    U reeeeds!

  3. if buts and maybes, if we had given Billy the money and support at the crucial time but we didnt, we are now stuck paying wages to Boteng Reid Derbyshire when they will not help us progress at all.
    Maybe Steve Coterill will turn it all around.I dont think for one minute we will be relagated but having finished in the top 6 for the last 2 years we are looking at survival or mid table is a disgrace. We now have to look forward but Arthur and Doughty threw away a golden opportunity,

  4. Watching everyone beating everyone else means we can still finish in the top six !
    Beating boro at home and Blackpool away and playing well at southampton shows we have the squad to deal with it !…….
    Keep the Faith !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  5. You made some good points nffc that I agree with out lack of clinical finishing is a big worry for me goals win games simple.Lots and lots of work to do on the side we simply dont have the quality in ouR team at the minute.

    When we have Dex , ando and cohen back we will be a different side.But lets not get carried away a solid mid table finish after the fiasco at the start of the season is very positive.

    The whole club needs to lower expectation and be real and we need to get behind the boys to avoid getting sucked into a relegation fight.

    U reds

  6. Great read as always.
    Just one thing, our next game v Ipswich is AFTER the international break!

  7. if fans really believe we are going to get in top 6 then there idiots!

    we have no cutting edge which ive stated all along.

    mid table finish!

  8. It wont have escaped your notice nffc that Smoulds has been shown the exit @ Hibs with a dismal record and real discontent amongst the Hibs faithful.

    Think hes a better assistant than a gaffer …………?

  9. […] You see, the strength of feeling amongst Forest fans was very clearly shown when I caught a few minutes of Matchtalk tonight – there were far more Reds wanting to vent their spleen at the ex-gaffer than those wanting to comment upon Forest’s disappointing 3-0 reverse at Portsmouth. […]

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