Everything but the goal..

Brighton and Hove Albion – 1
Nottingham Forest – 0

Gutted isn’t the word – Forest rose to the challenge from Tuesday night’s fiasco with a spirited and dominating performance over a very good Brighton side.  Only to find themselves being hit by a sucker-punch at the death.  Don’t think that the Forest site is exaggerating (although Steve Cotterill’s ‘3 or 4 goals’ claim is an exaggeration) when they say we were by far the better team.  We really were.  It’s bloody infuriating!

It wasn’t really the game that I was looking forward to, more the new ground (supposedly designed to offer an unsurpassed away fans experience), a day out in a pleasant town and hopefully a bearable game of football.  Brighton is a good day out, indeed, I wish I’d stayed over now.  The locals were friendly, and with Forest providing their biggest away crowd so far, there were plenty of Reds around too.

The first limitation with the out-of-the-way location of the ground is getting there – friendly locals advised us to avoid getting a taxi (as was our plan) due to congestion, and just hop on the train.  The demand for the train being such that you can just get on in Brighton and off at Falmer without ever having your ticket paid for.  We joined the throng at the station and ended up on the second train to arrive at the station.  It was cosy on the train but a chance for a bit more banter.

If I’m honest, I’d built the ground up to be more than it was in my head.  The ‘lighting in your team’s colours’ was a single red tinted light, the ‘imagery of your players’ was a single big screen in the eaves of the concourse.  The local beer is a nice touch, although like most other concourses the queues to attain it were prohibitive, the stewards were friendly and ‘light touch’ in their duties, the atmosphere was loud when manufactured at the start of the game, less so during.

In truth – it’s really not a great deal different to any other edge-of-town new-build stadium – of course, given their previous occupancy of the Withdean Stadium it was long overdue for Brighton.  Perhaps I set my expectations too high, but this was nothing more than an above-average away day experience in a ground for me, nothing revolutionary.  But where this was to underwhelm, the match was beyond my wildest expectations after Tuesday’s mauling (albeit with the obvious unhappy ending for us).

Steve Cotterill made changes forced and unforced – Reid suspended, Lynch injured and McGugan and Findley dropped to give us a different look.  Tudgay operating as a lone striker, and the fantastic news that Dexter Blackstock merited a place on the bench:

Gunter    Morgan    Chambers    Cunningham
McCleary   Greening    Moussi    Anderson

It was kind of like that, Raddy playing in a free role, with he, Ando and GMac presumably tasked with providing support for the potentially isolated figure of Tuds upfront on his own.  It was a bright start from the Reds too, pressing forward from the off and McCleary winning us a corner early in the match.  Greening took charge of the corner, which was played short and back to him to cross, just evading Wes Morgan at the back post.

Another opportunity fell this time to Anderson, it was a decent ball by Moussi that gave him the chance to shoot – it was close enough to trouble Ankergren into diving, but was just wide of the post.  The home side too had forays forward at the beginning of the match, a cross from Noone looked dangerous until cleared by Moussi at the expense of a corner.  Raddy was playing well for us, a cross from the left from him was just too high for Tuds to convert.

It was Majewski again causing problems, jinking past Navarro on the edge of the box before being cynically hacked down by him – the resultant freekick was spooned over by the Pole, which was disappointing!  So t’was all square at half time, a text I sent to a friend at that time was ‘0-0 HT.We just shaded but no shots on goal either way – can see this being decided by the next goal. 1-0 either way or 0-0‘ – I should’ve put a bet on, shouldn’t it?

The chance we really should have buried came soon after half time – lovely play between Majewski and McCleary eventually fed the ball to Gunter whose cross from the right was perfect for the diving header by Tudgay.  Alas the striker conspired to put it wide – it’s true that a Forest man was just infront jumping for it too before it dropped – but put that on target and it was a goal, Ankergren was well out of position.

This buoyed on the travelling Forest fans and the team alike – a ball this time from Cunningham on the left came to McCleary who jinked past a couple of players but couldn’t fashion a chance to shoot.  Closer still, a cross from Anderson caused bedlam in the Brighton area but eventually ended up just wide of the post, begging for a leg to just poke the ball over the line.  It was at once exhilarating, but worrying because we were creating but not really causing Ankergren too much work.

Brighton were starting to get more of a foothold in the game in which they’d mostly been spectators so far.  A decent cross from substitute LuaLua found Noone at the back post who – much like Tudgay earlier – perhaps should have at least got his header on target, instead he put it wide of the post.

Forest back on the attack got the ball to McCleary who again did well to trick himself a shooting chance – it deflected off defender Dunk and looped up and … just over for a corner.  This was a well-taken corner from Greening too, it found Tudgay who got his head on it at close range, but straight at Ankergren who caught it gratefully.  I reckon this was the first shot on target all game, but could be wrong.

The next chance fell to Raddy, he worked well to get past Noone and set himself up with a shooting chance from the edge of the area – he struck a curling effort well, but it went beyond the far post.  Yet another case of so near but yet so far.  McCleary was withdrawn late on having had an excellent game, replaced by McGoldrick with many in the stands desperate to see a fairytale return for Dex.

With Brighton attacking more, Forest had a few counter attacks – one such attack saw Gunts burst forward and – on the other side – Anderson busting a gut to get up to support him.  After the cross came to nothing you could see how knackered Ando was, it’s easy to forget he’s been out injured for a while.  He was the next withdrawal, oddly for young Brendan Moloney who didn’t seem to be too sure where he was playing, so sat next to Cunningham.

Into stoppage time came to sucker-punch, Mackail-Smith got away down the right and – unlike the rest of the game managed to stay on his feet (what a diving sod he is!!), put a ball into the box which found Vincelot, he teed up Will Buckley who finished well past Camp.  The first and only shot on target for the home side.  Galling.  However, we could and should have done better with the chances we created – it’s not like we were denied by a goalkeeping masterclass.

So it was a reverse of what I expected really – a more run-of-the-mill match experience sandwiched an excellent performance from the Reds, just that lack of killer instinct is costing us – and, in truth, the biggest cost coming at a late defensive lapse in concentration because whilst the goal was well-taken it was eminently preventable (aren’t they all?).  Brighton fans on the way out seemed to agree with me, lots of consolatory words and phrases like ‘too good to go down’ – hmm. I’ve heard that before.  A few times.

15 Responses

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

  2. It’s relegation form when you play well and lose. It’s good that Forest picked themselves up after Leeds and on another day, they would probably have won. I fear Forest may have too many strikers again, Tudgay is the only one playing fairly regularly. If Forest had learnt nothing over the last few seasons under Billy, it’s that a partnership up front should be forged and those two should play as often as possible. I have to say, I’ve kind of given up on this season. It feels altogether like a year of consolidation and hopefully missing the drop. In view of the players we have, I can’t believe we aren’t doing better but something is obviously still not clicking. Oh well, onto the next game I suppose.

    U reeeds!!!!!! (He says, half-heartedly)

  3. I think we need to press home our advantage – that means going two up front when we’re on top with half an hour to go. It is six games since our defence last kept a clean sheet so a tactic of ‘avoiding losing’ just isn’t going to work.

    On the positives, really pleased for Radi, Ando and GMac getting back in and doing well. Surely with Miller, Blackstock and Derbyshire coming back we can do better at converting our chances.

    It is beyond us now – to achieve the 75 points we needed last season to scrape 6th, we’d need 55 points from the next 26 games. That’s better than league winner form – and I just can’t see us being the best team in the division for the rest of the season.

    So hopefully we get ourselves clear of danger and use this season to give Bamford, Lasceilles and Freeman some match experience.

  4. Before Cardiff I was optimistically looking towards the Play Offs but as Husky Red says it’s beyond us now.

    Defeats like yesterday are harder to take than the one on Tuesday. Playing well and losing is worse than being crap for 90 minutes and getting thrashed. At least we can apply logic to that one.

    There’s still a few things to look forward to this season; the hope of a decent FA Cup run (or at the very least a good draw), Derby away in January, the supposed shake up of the squad in the new year which in turn means we could still end strongly and lay the foundations for a good season in 2012/13. I know there’s no money to spends but many teams have done well in this league on a shoestring.

    I have to stay optimistic!

  5. We are still light of decent strikers versus last season …and bear in mind that was a problem then ….. Earny was never replaced ( I think we miss his guile in and around the box ) and Boyd looked more likely to score than Miller in my book . Tudders is never likely to score in reality .

    Overall despite the best efforts of Steve – we are lopsided , too slow or old and looking shaky at the back because the forwards never score…

    We have Mark Arthur to thank for what is now a shambles of a season… league one beckons if he does his usual shimmy in the transfer window !

    Marthur out

  6. Getting to their ground by car was hellish too !

    I am getting a distinct feeling of deja-vu with these Calderwood-esque excuses from the new manager. The old adage that your league table position doesn’t lie means we’re in trouble.
    If we could score goals, a last minute lapse allowing Brighton a goal wouldn’t have mattered.
    We haven’t scored a goal in the last four and a half hours of play.
    Can Steve Cotterill manage & motivate a team or not ?

    Dear Santa Claus / Frank Clarke / Jimmy Saville – please can you fix it for us to have Billy Davies back ?

  7. Very very frustrating I was listening to the game and with 15 to go I felt they could hit us with the sucker punch.You can play a blinder shine like a star it counts for nothing if you dont convert your chances.

    We are in the old proverbial and the magnitude of Billys sacking is now being driven home.What a mess again ! ND is staying away from home games according to Frank Clark no wonder he should be ashamed of the mess the club is in truly ashamed.

    Unless we start scoring goals and keeping it tighter the reality is were going down AGAIN the signs are all there .

    Red Rob I am astounded that Mark Arthur has managed to keep his job its beyond belief any other CE would have gone a long time ago.


  8. This one really stung. And all the Brighton fans I spoke to were good enough to agree that they robbed us. You could see it hurt the players too – let’s hope it doesn’t affect them too badly. First half was a bit of a non-event but after Leeds I’d have settled for 90 uneventful minutes. Second half we dominated but I never felt that a goal was inevitable – our formation was just a little too cautious for that (and rightly so I think). The good news is that everyone played well; the bad news is that we still lost and we still didn’t score. I think a lot is going to depend on how quickly Dex can get his best form back.

    I did feel that we started to panic a little in injury time. We’d been playing so calmly and sweetly all half and then we just began hoofing the ball away. I said to the fella next to me just before they scored: “why have we stopped playing football?” And Moloney to left midfield looked like a weird substitution even before he let Mackail-Smith slip past him in the build-up.

    Anyway: more positives than negatives, and there’s not many Sundays we’ve been able to say that this season.

  9. just watched the Tudders header miss……that’s where we lost it – shouldve buried it and Brighton would have been dispatched …..

  10. Another game where points have eluded
    Maybe the powers that be
    should take note of
    the fact that are more attacking line up
    produced a better display. The goals will
    surely come if we play a similar brand
    of Football over the coming weeks.

  11. Forest played really well and lost which is worrying! but if they keep this effort and performance they will be safe.
    Didn’t miss Lewis Mcgugan at all, when he puts in the effort he is an asset on the pitch but this only happens about once in every four games.
    Credit to all the players on Saturday great commitment and great effort.

  12. Good point with regards to Lewis. As good as Lewis is on HIS day and as much as I enjoy him watching him when he’s on his game is it maybe time to sacrifice him & bring some much needed money in? The balance is clearly not right in midfield & you simply cannot accomodate both him & Raddy on a regular basis. Indeed, I think Lewis is perhaps holding back the development of Raddy.

  13. I expect Steve was watching Palace lose again at Barnsley.
    If ever there was a chance of 3 points it is saturday !
    .I expect a win,and with Blackstock scoring again for the reserves and Harewood back traing with us it should motivate our forwards to get a couple of goals !!
    Frank Clarke says he is not sacking arthur,but I suppose he still needs him and Pelling at the moment .
    Lets hope he is putting out feelers for replacements for these two clowns next year !

  14. well………………….like i have always said ..we will be just below or mid table …the departure of BD..king Billy ! …was a major blow ..and certain people should be held responsible…and you know who i mean …MARTHUR AND HIS MUPPETS !

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