Nottingham Forest – 0
Leicester City – 0
The result I wanted even less than a win, a nil-nil bore draw in the bore draw leading to a replay. Something we could do without from every position except perhaps fiscal – after all, I imagine a healthy sized home crowd for the return fixture will boost our coffers considerably given the apparent popularity of the fixture down the A46. Before this, of course, is the inevitable ‘good draw’ for the next round, which will be dashed when we lose the replay.
Grumpy? Yeah, hadn’t you noticed? Steve Cotterill didn’t elect to field a weakened side really, injuries aside. Cunningham is the latest injury worry, dropping out to be replaced by Kieron Freeman who returns from a loan at Mansfield, Boateng missed out – and with Lynch returning to defence gave Moose the opportunity to return to defensive midfield alongside Jonathan Greening, giving us this line-up:
Gunter Chambers Lynch Freeman
McCleary McGugan Reid
Despite fears there weren’t more Leicester fans than Forest, 7,816 fans in blue in the designated areas at least, amongst a crowd of 18,477. The game begun at quite a frenetic pace, and as seems to have been the custom of late an early injury – this time to an opponent though, Jeff Schlupp taken off on a stretcher and replaced by Jermaine Beckford having gone into a challenge with Jonathan Greening.
Forest seemed to continue to be pretty well spurred on – a good run from Gunter down the right was ended with a decent ball in to McGugan, his volleyed effort was well saved by Schmeichel but rebounded to Reid who tried to put the ball goalward but for the intervention of what appeared to be the arm of a visiting defender. Naturally enough the referee saw fit to ignore this transgression much like against Cardiff the other week!
Reid was looking dangerous though, having beaten his man he was through on goal, but Schmeichel was equal to his effort and managed to get a touch on to it to put it out for a corner. Forest had clocked up about five corners before Leicester really came into the game – as ever, we are about as penetrative as a sword made of butter from corners though. Once Leicester did start to come into the game they looked on occasions quite dangerous.
A freekick from wide on the right was clipped into the box by Paul Gallagher, finding the head of David Nugent before cannoning off the crossbar. Freeman – generally looking tidy – nearly made a Phil Jones-esque error when he tried to head the ball back under pressure from Beckford, fortunately Lee Camp was alert enough to dive and prevent an embarrassing own goal from the youngster.
Reidy remained our principle source of enterprise, cannily spotting Schmeichel off his line he went for the chipped effort which the ‘keeper had to backpedal to get to before tipping it out for another Forest corner. As ever with Forest though, failure to breach one goal is often followed by a gift at our own – a short header back from Chambers was intercepted by Nugent who conspired to miss an open goal.
Half time all square – whilst Forest had started well and had Leicester on the ropes, there were probably better chances for the visitors. Sounding familiar? It should. There was plenty of hard work but not masses of quality, particularly going forward. It was good to see Freeman come through the half relatively unscathed though. The Reds lined up to kick towards the Bridgford End for the second half.
It was a frenetic start to the second half – a lot of effort and little craft from either side resulting in a lot of lost possession. McCleary worked well down the right to release Gunter whose ball into the box was cleared. McCleary picked it up and fed Moussi who miskicked. Meanwhile Abe picked up the ball for Leicester and did well to get forward and play the ball in to Gallagher who hit it over.
The visitors were getting more of the ball and putting on more pressure – we were treated to one of those moments when a stand of fans look silly, as the away end to a man celebrated what they thought was a goal, Gallagher had taken a shot however it struck the side-netting, which perhaps wasn’t all that apparent from the Bridgford End. He was withdrawn almost immediately as part of a double substitution from the visitors.
Cotterill followed suit with his increasingly late subs, taking off perhaps our only real creative force (but increasingly knackered-looking) Andy Reid – who was afforded an excellent reception from the fans as was Marlon Harewood, resuming his Forest career after a break of more than eight years. Pretty much the first thing Marlon did was get caught offside, so he certainly still has the knack of that particular trick!
Further opportunities for the away side followed, Konchesky latched onto a Lynch clearance and sent a dangerous ball across the face of goal which was deflected out for a corner. At the other end McCleary presented a similar opportunity by playing the ball across the six-yard line and out the other side – as ever, no Forest strikers had gambled that far forward so weren’t able to get on the end of the tantalising cross.
Jermaine Beckford illustrated perhaps why he wasn’t cut out for Premier League football with the miss of the game, in acres of space fifteen yards from goal he conspired to scoop the ball high over the crossbar when he should really have been scoring, or at the very least hitting the target. Dexter replaced Marcus with about twelve minutes to go, Tuds – as he does – had worked very hard with little support or service at times.
Leicester, in the meantime, continued to conspire to miss chances that looked easier to score – Camp did well to save from Nugent’s header, but parried the ball directly to Dyer who, from four yards out, volleyed it over. Anderson was our last substitute in a straight swap for McCleary – leaving a few muttering about the clear need for a more creative head like Majewski who seems to be tremendously out of favour with Cotterill.
That said, with McGugan and Gunter both playing and risking being cup-tied despite supposed interest from other clubs, maybe it’s Raddy who is attracting interest? Or do you get cup-tied even for being an unused substitute? I don’t think you do – so in fielding Gunts and Lewis we’ve at the very least lessened their value to any would-be interested parties by playing them today. Interesting speculation, of course, but not really part of the match report!
Matt Mills chose to highlight what has become the customary spectacle of a shit refereeing performance of the City Ground by giving Dexter Blackstock a blatant elbow to the head – the former Reading defender picking up only a yellow card. The only other incident was a brief treatment of Freeman just into stoppage time, before the game ended without further incident.
For me a draw was the worst possible outcome – an opportunity to replay a game we could have done without in the first place will generate some funds, particularly given the likelihood of a higher-than-normal home attendance for this round of the cup, however with the number of injuries we have an Cotterill’s apparent lack of desire to rest key players we could see our increasingly important league programme put under pressure. It’s almost a sin to say, but I would rather have lost than drawn given our wider circumstances.
As it is, we are ‘still in the draw’ so to speak. Sod’s law dictates an exciting prospect of a top flight visitor or trip that will have some fans already excitedly forgetting the replay to overcome, followed by the customary shoeing we’ll get at the Walkers Stadium. Magic of the F.A. Cup my arse.
The replay is on Wednesday 18th January.
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