Nottingham Forest – 3
Ipswich Town – 2
As the forlorn little plane with the banner did a couple of circuits of the City Ground pre-match before heading for a trip over Pride Park to give Derby fans their only cheer of the afternoon, it was tempting to consider the folly in such a delayed stunt. That folly turned out to come true as the Reds went on to win, whilst Derby limply slipped to a home defeat against Hull. As Colin Fray said, I hope that plane landed okay, what with all the wheels falling off at Derby.
Meanwhile, at our end of the A52 we had two equalisers and a late winner to send us home feeling rather happy – any ire felt by the limited number of Forest fans who noticed the pre-match goading completely dissipated. Steve Cotterill opted to name an unchanged line-up despite a disappointing result in their last run out at Portsmouth – albeit in a game where the scoreline perhaps didn’t tell the whole story.
One pleasant surprise though was a return to the bench for Paul Anderson, who continues his recovery from injury after a couple of friendly appearances. From a starting eleven point of view we looked like this:
Chambers Morgan Lynch Cunningham
Gunter Greening Moussi McGugan
The first half-chance fell to the visitors, the away end seemingly thinking Jason Scotland’s shot from the D was a lot closer than it was, it looked pretty comfortably wide to me! Forest did look promising early doors, with some neat passing and pacey play – but utterly struggled to fashion too much by the way of meaningful opportunities. Similarly Ipswich had their moments too, but didn’t have much by way of threat on the Forest goal.
Our first opportunity of sorts came from a Chambers cross from the right, Tudgay intelligently flicked the ball back to Moussi who shot, but didn’t make it too difficult for Stockdale who made a comfortable save. Cunningham – looking more eager to get forward than before – was making good progress going forward too, but his first chance to cross in was prevented by Ingimarsson.
A foolishly conceded freekick is always going to lead to a certain degree of nervousness – it was a decent delivery too from Aaron Cresswell to the near post and Danny Collins made no mistake with the header under little or no pressure from the Reds defence. Camp was left with little chance to do anything about it, and as seems to be becoming a habit we undo our positive work with a sloppily conceded and badly defended set-piece.
I guess it’s fair to say that things even themselves up though – because Ipswich conceded a sloppy freekick not long later – a decent delivery from McGugan into the danger zone found Joel Lynch, who couldn’t get a goalbound effort off, but nodded down towards Robbie Findley who was able to capitalise on the absolute chaos in the Ipswich penalty area and bundle the ball in for the equaliser.
With the crowd lifted somewhat there was a thrill of anticipation when the Reds were awarded another freekick – this time it was more central and around 25 yards out. Reds fans and possibly Ipswich fans alike might’ve been mindful of that freekick against the Tractor Boys by McGugan last year. It was Lewis who struck, it was a decent one too, but Stockdale in the Ipswich goal was equal to the low driven effort.
All square at half time was probably not far off fair, Forest had probably shaded the play – but in terms of chances created beyond the goals it was limited from both teams. As ever, we struggled to create by having no ‘proper’ wingers – Lewis was having limited opportunity to get in the game and Gunts, for all his endeavour, lacks a certain finesse out wide. Of course, I can write that quite comfortably with the benefit of hindsight!
The second half started in a reasonably lively fashion – Gunter got a decent ball in which Findley was lurking near, but unable to get to it before their ‘keeper. Ipswich too had an early opportunity which Camp saved, into the danger zone, but Chambers was able to get it clear. At the other end Cunningham appeared to be impeded by Edwards, looked like an obstruction just outside the area to me, the referee didn’t think so though, assuming it was just a collision.
Forest again went on the attack, and one of those rarest of occasions – a good corner from Forest was struck powerfully in by McGugan, finding Luke Chambers. His header looked every way a goal before some kind of superhuman clearance (I hope it features on the Football League Show later) by Cresswell on the line kept it from going in the net. Sure enough, as we looked to be getting better the suckerpunch came.
Around an hour on the clock and a Bullard corner just looped over – I think – Lynch, whilst Scotland cunningly got in the way of Camp and the defenders in the middle it fell nicely for Cummings who met the ball with a diving header to put the ball firmly in the net. Another set piece, another bit of dodgy defending really – and a goal completely against the run of play which is becoming a bit of a nasty habit!
Tuds – with another industrious performance – almost got us back in it with a powerful strike that was stopped by Stockdale, who couldn’t hold it but his defenders were able to get the ball clear after it had squirmed out of his grasp. The next occurrence of note was probably what won the day for us – Cotterill opted to make late changes, 76 minutes and Gunter and Greening were replaced by Anderson and Reid. They moved to the right and left wings respectively, with McGugan taking a more central role.
Reidy was immediately involved with a shot from the edge of the area which was always curling wide, and Anderson too had early involvement – bursting down the right but unable to beat his man. The next change, with nine minutes on the clock, was forgotten-man David McGoldrick who replaced Robbie Findley.
The second equaliser came – a Reds corner by McGugan wasn’t particularly well taken and cleared as far as Reid who put a lovely curling ball back into the box where Lynch rose and flicked a header across the ‘keeper who got a hand to it, but only to still see the ball end up in the ‘net. A lovely header, and a great reward for a player who really has been on great form for us over the last few games.
We could’ve had the winner a little early too. McGoldrick seemed to take an age after gathering the ball on the by-line, but there was prudence in not rushing a cross – he picked out McGugan with a nice pass – his powerful left-footed strike was decent enough but near enough straight at Stockdale who had no problem denying us the goal. But of course, we were to get that happiest of endings, a stoppage-time winner.
This one came courtesy of some great work down the left – Cunningham had space to pick out a cross to the six yard box. An Ipswich defender got a head to it, but only to tee up Marcus Tudgay to head in from close range at the back post to make the City Ground absolutely erupt – as with Lynchy, great to see Tuds’ hard working performances rewarded with a goal. At the time I thought it was an own goal, but I’m assured it was definitely Tudgay who put the ball in.
A game that was probably two-thirds frustration and one-third decent, but it’s amazing what an ending like that can do to evaporate that feeling of boredom and drudgery that – in quantity of time terms – made up the majority of the afternoon. Three points on the board puts us seven points clear of the drop zone, and seven points away from the play-offs. Perhaps, given the epic fail that was ‘plane gate’, more pertinently it leaves us just four points behind Derby.
To give that undeserving of subjects a bit more air time, there’s been a nice response from some Reds fans. Reflecting that in excess of £2,000 is an awful lot to waste on an unoriginal and untimely stunt that ultimately landed like a wet fart – it would have been much nicer to raise money for good causes. As such Forest Fans for Charity has been set up with a target of raising a comparable amount for the Royal British Legion and Help for Heroes.
Never Forgotten indeed.
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