Nottingham Forest – 0
Leeds United – 4
Thanks Leeds fans for the headline. I was tempted to go with one of the rare amusing Forest chants of the night: ‘How shit must you be? You’ve only scored four’ – but well, I didn’t want to clutter up the news feeds with naughty words!
A well observed minute’s applause for Gary Speed was probably the highlight of the evening for Forest fans. Steve Cotterill took heed of the issues we’ve been facing and put Anderson and Reid in the starting eleven. A good move, almost universally thought. Greening and Gunter missed out, with McGugan moving into the middle as part of the bargain. Chambers remained in his makeshift rightback role.
Chambers Morgan Lynch Cunningham
Anderson Moussi McGugan Reid
I – funnily enough – don’t propose to dwell too much on this one. I’ve just about thawed out from an evening of sitting zombie-like watching perhaps our worst performance of the season in many ways. Leeds will be embarrassed for two reasons – one, it was too easy for them and two, they only managed to score four goals. It really could – and arguably should – have been more. And not because Leeds were brilliant, they didn’t need to be – we were just awful.
That’s not disrespecting our visitors – I guess they established quite quickly that aside from closing down and working to a semi-competent level they didn’t really need to break much of a sweat.
So, the planned tribute to Gary Speed – chanting from 11 minutes in for 11 minutes started on time, it was greeted with applause from the home fans and a brief join-in, but we left the Leeds fans to continue the tribute – the game didn’t exactly set on fire, and the effect of the chant was quite soporific – so much so that it appeared to have hypnotised Cunningham who left Snodgrass cut inside him on to his favourite left foot and smash the ball in past Camp literally as the 11 minutes were up.
It should’ve been two ‘nil – Camp tried to clear a long ball by chesting it away from Snodgrass but made a hash of it. Fortunately Moussi managed to get something on the resultant open-goal opportunity for the Leeds man and caused the ball to loop over the goal. Howson missed a great opportunity after Snodgrass made a monkey of Cunningham again – but conspired to miss the target from close range.
He made amends at the end of the half when Becchio was able to nod the ball over Lynch to Howson, who had evaded Cunningham who’d been drawn to the ball – and gosh it was a nice finish, giving Camp no chance with a finish to the top corner from the edge of the area. To be frank, it wasn’t good. Admittedlly it had been individual errors expertly punished – but we’d got away with a couple of bloody good opportunities for the visitors too. Optimism was not high.
Cotterill made an unusual-for-him step of a half-time change – taking off Findley, who had been frankly mostly awful, for returning-from-injury Ishmael Miller.
Whatever he had said at half time didn’t seem to make much odds – four minutes in and it was three – and it was embarrassing. Brown seemed to have all the time in the world to pick out an excellent cross to a similarly unmarked Becchio who put in a lovely glancing header. Again, very well taken – but we made it so easy by not offering any kind of opposition to either cross nor header. It’s not like this is something new this season!
A couple of rare but ultimately flaccid chances fell for Miller, one deflected over, the other a pea-roller directly at the keeper. Our first shot on target, around an hour on the clock. In the meantime the harassed Cunningham and the anonymous McGugan were withdrawn for Chris Gunter, who moved to right back with Chambers going central and Lynch going left back, McGoldrick replaced McGugan.
Guess what? Leeds scored again moments later. Moussi slipped, Howson nicked in and brought a save from Camp, Gunter looked set to clear but Camp punched it away from him, to Clayton who popped it in the goal from close range. It was frankly getting embarrassing watching new ways in which pretty much the entire Forest squad seemed hell bent on making Leeds look like world beaters, despite the visitors clearly not really getting out of first gear!
A strange consolation nearly came when a Lynch cross almost went on target – but it popped just over. Shortly after he appeared to pick up a knock, but struggled on since we’d used all our subs.
Oh yeah, and Reidy – who had, in fairness, put in a few decent balls (albeit with nobody busting a gut to get on the end of them) got sent off for two second half bookings, both of which were warranted (unlike the earlier booking for Lynch which was absurd). Forest continued to offer little, Leeds had further chances including a 3-on-2 break but weren’t able to coax Forest into providing them further gilt-edged opportunities to convert.
A flattering result. Flattering to us. Leeds could’ve easily extended this scoreline to be incredibly embarrassing. Is anybody else feeling a bit reluctant to make that bloody long trip to Brighton this weekend? This really was a disgustingly bad performance. It’s true there were a lot of specific errors that led to goals, but to have pretty much the whole team have an ‘off day’ is worrying. Very worrying.
Steve Cotterill claims the players are hurting at this result – I hope he’s right, because they didn’t look like they gave much of a shit on the pitch. Perhaps that he has a more professional outlook than I do is a blessing, though. I’m bloody seething.
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