The hunt for a goal goes on the road on Bank Holiday Monday, and ironically our next opportunity to find the onion bag comes against the team against whom we last managed to score. Indeed, we scored three goals against them. Could this frankly painful ten and a half hour stint of no goals come to an end against Paul Jewell’s school of clown defending? If it doesn’t, then – if you held any hope we weren’t already – we really are in trouble.
Forest have, at times, shown desire and drive over the last few games, but frankly have not given opposing goalkeepers much to do at all. Our last game against Cardiff was a great example of this – dominated possession, territory and ‘pressure’ – but didn’t make their keeper have a single genuinely uncomfortable moment all game (aside from the opening minutes where he fouled Findley). Despite being the poorer team, Cardiff brought a save from Camp, missed a golden chance and scored. Therein lies the difference.
Ipswich are a real chalk or cheese team – a seven goal losing streak featured earlier in the season (including our win against them), but then an amazing fightback against Barnsley was followed by a win over Derby. That said, like us they saw out 2011 with a defeat – in their case at the hands of Reading at the Madejski Stadium. I don’t much rate Jewell as a manager, but alas fear he might have the edge over Cotterill on the ability stakes.
To add to recent injury woes we have doubts over Robbie Findley, who suffered a problem with his shoulder after an awkward fall early in the Cardiff game. Joel Lynch picked up his fifth booking (frustrating – one more game and the suspension threshold increases) so misses this game through suspension, meaning Moussi is likely to be moved back to defence. Dexter and Anderson are both doubts with their injuries, whilst of course the longer team crocks Miller, Cohen, Morgan and Moloney will all miss out.
There’s a slight chance that the Chinese FA and FIFA might have got Marlon Harewood’s paperwork sorted out in time for the 32 year old to make his second Forest debut, post-match yesterday Steve Cotterill rated this at about 50:50 – so by no means a guarantee – meaning that we are increasingly picking through the dregs of our striking options. After a passionless and effortless showing from Derbyshire yesterday I’m hoping young Bamford gets himself a start.
Our hosts are in reasonably fine fettle on the injury front – although will be without their top scorer Keith Andrews, a midfielder on loan from Blackburn. Their recent two wins look increasingly like a blip with a draw and a defeat in their most recent results, and we know only too well from the City Ground encounter that – much like us – their defence is prone to comedic lapses that result in goals conceded.
If we want to get the ‘not-scoring-goals’ monkey off our back, then there are few opponents more likely to oblige, Ipswich have only kept six clean sheets all season in the league, only one in their last ten games. Unfortunately we too have only kept six clean sheets all season – two of which came in our last ten games – so whilst we might well break our goalless streak, by the same ‘logic’ it seems highly likely we’ll concede too.
We really need a win to ease pressure on players and manager alike – and of course to provide a spark of hope to an increasingly bleak looking league table. Unfortunately I just can’t envisage that actually happening. Sorry to continue a theme of depressing predictions of late, but there you go! I might start sticking a tenner on Forest to lose each game just to have something to cheer me up come full time – either making a spot of cash or seeing us snag at least a point!
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