Much improved, but still only one point..

Gunts will probably want to forget his assorted misses today!

Nottingham Forest – 1
Watford – 1

It was always going to begin an emotional day – the first gathering of the Forest family since we lost our biggest benefactor.  Many had – like me – taken time out pre-match to write in one of the two books of condolence that Forest had prepared, and folks had also left flowers, shirts and scarves near the main reception in tribute to Nigel Doughty.  The game of course commenced with a minute’s applause to show appreciation.

I personally had some difficulty with many fans around me (who I’ve heard chant Nigel Doughty’s name before) this time loudly urging folks to stand up for him.  It is a pity that the only time I’ve heard his name pass these people’s lips in a positive light is post mortem.  However despite some of these characters it was nice to hear a few rounds of chanting for him – particularly with his family in attendance for the game.

So, the game – with so many incomings as expected we got a changed line-up – and entirely new defence with Chambers coming in as well as three loan signings.  Harsh on Lynch, I thought.  Dropping Gunts too would be mean, so he found himself pushed forward as a right-winger as happened earlier in Cotterill’s reign, giving us:

Camp
Wootton    Chambers    Higginbotham    Elokobi
Gunter    Moussi    Guedioura    McCleary
Harewood   Miller

We started well, too.  A bit of pressure, a foul on Gunter and a freekick, it was put in well by Guedioura and found Chambers but he couldn’t get sufficient power on his header to provide anything other than a fairly routine save for Loach.  Whilst possession and territory was in plentiful supply for the Reds, we weren’t exactly hammering on Scott Loach’s goal – and suddenly to a micro-second of dumb-founded confusion, we scored.

Garath McCleary picked up the ball, cut inside and hit a low shot not especially powerful, ending up just inside the far post – I have yet to see a replay but in ‘real time’ it seemed like a real pea-roller.  We all sat and watched the ball hit the yet, paused to remember what happens next before, to a man (or woman) rising to join in the lunatic dancing to the usually-tasteless Fratellis goal music.

Moments later it could’ve been two – Gunter found himself one on one with the keeper and went for the cheeky chip that I always go for to great affect in FIFA 12.  Unlike in my fantasy game he didn’t quite put enough power on it so it was cleared.  As well as McCleary, Guedioura was catching the eye in a much more composed performance than his debut – a decent ball for Miller gave the big striker a chance to shoot, bringing a decent save from Loach.

Naturally enough, though, Watford started to play their way back into the game and certainly fans’ nerves were jangling with just a one goal lead.  That lead really ought to have been equalised when Eustace allowed Camp the chance to save from point-blank range, with Chambers eventually making the clearance.  At the other end McCleary shot from a similar spot to his goal after a good lay-off by Miller, this time Loach was alert to it and made a smart save.

The visitors were getting stronger though – Sean Murray worked really well to jink in and out to get past a couple of defenders in the box, bore down on goal and conspired to put his eventual shot into the side netting, much to our relief.  It was short-lived.  Garner won a freekick for Watford with the patently ‘Garner-Flop’ that we became accustomed to in his time with us.

Sean Murray took the free-kick into the area, Troy Deeney got his head on to it (hard to tell from my end who was supposed to be covering him) and looped a well-placed effort over Camp (who might’ve got a hand on it) and into the net.  A real kick in the nuts for Forest, who’d certainly looked a much more cohesive team than they have a weeks – considering we had three debutants in defence, and one making his second appearance in midfield, that’s quite bonkers.

The usual half time dreariness of fans failing to kick a ball through a hole was perhaps a little less dreary than usual owing to some glimmers of hope.  Elokobi was having a solid debut (admittedly under limited forays forward by the visitors).  Wootton looks comfortable on the ball, and a classy player.  Higginbotham is steady, as you’d expect – and constantly talking to his teammates (we need this!), and Guedioura was outstanding in spells.  Some of us were almost feeling optimistic!

We got off to a great start early in the second half, too – McCleary had made a good run down the left before feeding Miller who’s effort was blocked before it could trouble Loach.  Shortly after this we picked up a free-kick after Moussi was felled, bizarrely it was Harewood who took it (Higginbotham blasted one into the wall in the first half), hitting it low and just wide – it looked a bit of a mishit and perhaps had Loach wrong-footed.

Gunts will be having nightmares tonight about the chances that fell his way – a cross from Harewood from the left found him in a great position on the back stick – it was at an awkward height, but frankly it was as good as an open goal.  He volleyed it, it crashed off the bar and out – he could’ve chested it in or cushioned it in, still, coulda woulda shoulda – Chris ain’t an attacker, and it showed.  Credit to him for being in that position, though.

It became a bit groundhog dayish after that – McCleary continued to cause trouble and found Gunts again who scuffed a shot which was an easy save for Loach.  Mariappa headed goalward on a rare foray forward but t’was an easy claim for Lee Camp.  More pressure from Forest saw Guedioura try to single-handedly knock out the Watford defence with powerful shots from range that were blocked, and of course there was time for another cross from McCleary to find Gunter who headed just over from ten yards out.

Watford too rattled the woodwork – a late run into the box from Eustace was picked out well and his volley cannoned off the crossbar and over.  This heralded the traditional late substitutions from the manager – he took off Miller and replaced him with Findley.  Findley had some good early touches and won a few headers, and of course, Gunter got on the end of a decent cross from McCleary and blazed it over from eight yards out.

Blackstock was on next for Harewood with about ten minutes on the clock, but as we struggled to break down Watford the gaffer decided to give Andy Reid a whole three minutes to make an impact – taking off Scott Wootton (who looks an excellent prospect).  With stoppage time underway Reid picked out a perfectly weighted throughball to Findley who showed the first touch of a brick wall, essentially passing it back to Loach.

That was the fairytale ending denied – very disappointing.  Easily enough chances to have won the game, unfortunately they fell to a right-back playing on the wing (who was clearly repeatedly getting in great positions!), and a striker who – well – could use a bit of form bestowing upon him.  Whilst it’s fair to reflect on elements of bad luck, we are in a race against time with regard to avoiding the drop – we need points.

It was very reassuring to see something that was more like a concerted effort and a team-performance though, and considering a fair number of the participants have had limited time together that could bode well.  Of course, it could also bode badly when they’ve had a little bit more time for Cotterill to train their common sense away from them.  Nah, sod it, let’s be positive – let’s get an unlikely win at the Riverside on Tuesday.

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21 Responses

  1. Great post NFFC and a good summary of the game.

    Like you, I was made to feel slightly nauseous about the anti Doughty people who now hail him as a long lost hero. Pity they couldn’t recognise his value to the club prior to his sad and untimely demise.

    As for the game, well it was there to be won and in reality we should have won it, had we taken one of the many wasted chances. Gunts could have 5 goals on his own and had his slighlty feeble chip gone it, I feel it would have been game over. And as for Findley’s first touch…….. Jeeeeeesus!!!

    Thought the new back four played ok. Higginbottom marshalled them well and never stopped talking and cajoling and he looks like a good leader out there. Radio Nottingham annouced McCleary as MOTM but they weren’t watching the same game as me as Guedioura shone like a new penny today.

    Optimistic, well yes but we’ve had a few false dawns before so nothing more than that at this juncture. We need to build on this…..

  2. Absolutely fuming coming away from this one. I doubt Forest will get such an open invitation from the opposition to win a game again this season. Sure Gunter was out of position but some of those efforts on goal were laughable for a supposed international. I wonder how a midfielder such as Raddy Majewski might have fared with them. Cotterill doeshimself no favours with strange selections such as this.

    There were some decent performances in there. I just can’t see how the few are going to be able to drag enough out of the many to turn it into points.

  3. I started the “One Nigel Doughty” chant in the Bridgford. I was glad most joined in despite knowing a lot would have been slagging him over the years. It’s never too late to show your appreciation, (apart from the Ishmael Miller contract…)

    • It was a good thing to do – I was thinking of specific people who seemed to be joining in with more insistence than the rest despite me remembering some of the foul things they had uttered but weeks ago.

      I suppose we all need to move on.

  4. All too familiar tale.
    Chances galore but just can’t hurt the
    opposition. Wiith almost a full squad to choose
    from we can’t seem to work it out.

    I really do fear the worst as Forest will
    become so reliant on the teams above
    them to keep losing in order to stay in
    touch.
    Nice goal by McLeary. Hope he can stay
    fit and stay at Forest.

  5. Much improved performance,and I still feel Higginbothom should be captain,Guediora was outstanding according to John Mcgovern,so thats good enough for me ! These players playing together more often can only be good news for us !
    I predicted a draw,but it should have been a win !!
    Please Steve, Give Reidy at least 20 minutes if you are going to use him as a late sub. !
    Am now looking forward to tuesday !!

  6. Frustrating to say the least we just cant fashion a win can we .The pattern is oh so similar to previous relegation seasons I just cant see us winning 7 or 8 games before the end of the season .

    Great to see an improvement in play and passion but we couldnt hit a barn door at 2 yards could we absolute sitters we missed.Our strikers are the thing that is going to relegate us they have been useless and im sorry they are just not good enough.

    Why leave Andy Reid with 3 minutes on the clock to fashion a trick very strange decisions by our manager. ???????

    Ive accepted we will be a leage 1 team next season

  7. I took my Grandson (aged7) with his Dad to his first game a the City Ground yesterday and he loved it even though he did mutter that Forest were rubbish at shooting! Another generation of DeepingReds hooked in!   We also went in the Cloughie Stand rather than our usual Trent End seats because of my grandson and sat right behind and in-line with McCleary when he scored.  It didn’t seem that well hit well but it swerved viciously away from Loach and into the corner. 

    A much improved performance -yes – and that is encouraging and i went home happy for once because i enjoyed the game but, and its a big but, this was 2 points lost not 1 point gained! Five points adrift means we need wins not draws; promotion teams win when they play badly, relegation teams don’t when they play well, hence I still fear the worst. Some bizarre selection decisions and subbing from Cotterill as well as some dreadful finishing cost us the game IMHO.

    Taking your point about Doughty nffc, I agree that there is hypocrisy in the air in some quarters but I am also sick of the ‘pious holy thans’ that sit on the other extreme of this now polarised debate with the attitude that if you criticised ND before his death you are a heretic who hounded him out!  This is simplistic pish!  My view of  his management of the Club hasn’t changed; he made bad decisions at key times and he has left Forest as a loss making enterprise after 12 years in charge.  However, I liked having a fan as an owner and know that he was a good man who did good things for those less fortunate.  I feel no guilt about my criticism but still mourn his passing.  I am sad we lost a true fan and I am sad that the Club has lost someone who cared deeply about it and who I recognise wanted to do the right thing.  I was uncomfortable with the manner that he left the club and felt that to step away as he did was an over reaction.  I don’t accept that the demo caused it; I didnt agree with it and thought it was a pathetic event in both scale and message.  Most of all though, whatever caused him to act as he did, the really sad thing is there is no way back from that now and it has just too many echoes with Cloughie’s final days for me!

    Time to move on for everyone!

  8. How many more times will we give the likes of harewood miller findley opportunites?

    its a shame we couldnt of got a striker on loan!

    Ishmael Miller is the worst signing forest have made in terms of the fee we paid and his 17k wages

    • After Harewood’s performance yesterday I’m hoping not many more times!! He did one bit of tricky that for those who’ll have seen the highlights on TV will leave them thinking he’s contributing but for the rest of the game is was seldom involved, often caught ball watching and thus too slow to respond, and just generally played very poorly.

      Case in point when Camp threw the ball out in the first half to McCleary who once past the halfway line ran towards the centre and then quite correctly laid the pass onto a forward running Harewood only to see that Harewood had decided to stop running – he should’ve carried on and he would’ve been through on goal!!

      Findley and that first touch… good grief!! Embarassing! BUT i’d rather have him play that Harewood because he looks lively.

      For two big strong guys like Harewood and Miller they need to be winning more balls to them… Marlon just doesn’t challenge enough. If he can’t read the flight of the ball then just watch the defender and make the challenge where he’s heading for!! ARghhh!!

      Adlene Guedioura played really well yesterday I thought – he puts Lewis McGugan to shame with his contribution both defending, going forward, and overall effort.

      RE Miller and his wages – has anyone seen that Chelsea gave Bamford a 5yr deal at 7k a week?! Imagine if we’d kept him as our 8th choice striker on that much money!!! Lol

      Tricky next two games now – M’boro will be tough and could leave the Coventry game being one where all hope gets resigned! If we can get a draw at M’boro (whilst not ideal) I’d at least like it to be a score draw.

      COYR! Its not over yet!

  9. Excellent article by Deeping Red agree totally with your comments on Nigel Doughty, RIP.

    Yesterday was 2 points lost, and I agree teams getting promoted play OK and can get 3 points, teams heading for relegation play well and draw or lose. The Brighton away game epitomised it for me, we played them off the park for 89 minutes (unfortunately not scoring) and we lost.
    I dont think Cotterill is right for this job (but i think we will have him as manager for the length of his contract even if we are relegated-)
    but I will hope and believe we can stay up until it is mathematically impossible.
    COYR

  10. Much better performance and work rate yesterday, the new boys in defence acquitted themselves well whilst SC’s NEP article bigging up McCleary seemed to have the desired effect. Star of the show however was definitely Guedioura who seemed to be EVERYWHERE.

    Although the starting XI put in a decent shift, I still cannot understand why Cotterill did not make changes earlier in the game, bringing Blackstock and Reid on earlier. Gunter did well but was let down by his finishing, whilst Findlay had clearly not read the script when he toe-ended Reidy’s excellent through-ball straight back to Loach.

    A definite two points dropped and another game where we look back and rue missed opportunities. Hopefully the renewed workrate and spirit can be maintained and at least one of the strikers can start putting away some of these chances. Bring on the Boro!

  11. Higginbotham(stupid name) was excellent and could make a difference,the guy from Wolves in midfield was classy,Harewood was hopeless. The inane tactic of Camp hoofing the bloody thing into space every time he has the ball is utter shite, SC has to understand that sort of footy belongs in the dark age, and will NOT keep us in this league.We have a great pitch and 2 reasonable full backs,USE THEM!!!!!!! It appears we now have a midfielder who can use the ball so lets keep him involved,rather than our keeper hoofing it over his head all day.Maybe O Driscoll should be in charge? It was better,but it is still a long way away from what we need. UREDS

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

  13. Well I wondered if I’d been watching the same game as Radio Nottingham as I drove home, they were so full of superlatives!

    The new-look defence did little wrong, thank goodness. I thought our finishing was atrocious and can’t see it improving.

    Each week Forest serve up so much hope and then the hopes are dashed.

    Every. Single. Time.

    • Hmm. Superlatives might’ve been pushing it – but it’s been ages since we created so many decent chances to score in a single game, so there is improvement there.

      Of course, in spurning them mostly without requiring Loach to make a save is spectacularly frustrating!

  14. nffc are you Colin Fray?

  15. All those players to choose from and we still get round shapes in square holes (Gunter).

    Does anyone know if their is a recall clause on the loan of Guedioura? Wolves are dreradful at present and McCarthy on the verge of the sack. With reports of Guedioura running the midfield at Forest it surely can’t be long before they want him back?!!

  16. Saturday was an improvement and I enjoyed the game but then let’s not get carried away. Before anyone does, take a look at the attached link which spells out very graphically the scale of the task at both ends of the park. I think the new additions in defence have made a difference but stay real guys, Saturdays performance shows that we are still way off the mark up front (no pun intended):

    http://experimental361.wordpress.com/2012/02/11/attacking-and-defensive-efficiency-championship/

    My Grandson is still buzzing about Saturday though so not all gloom and doom!

    • Well if nothing else it’s good that your grandson is on board!

      I saw those graphs on one of the forums – damning viewing.

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