Not out of the woods yet…

Nottingham Forest – 2
Coventry City – 0

Phew. What a relief that is – results elsewhere combined of course with the points deduction handed out to Portsmouth mean that not only have we registered a much-needed home win against a relegation rival, we have also found ourselves three points clear outside the drop zone.  Considering we were six points from safety earlier in the week, it’s a remarkable turnaround of fortunes considering this has been the season where it seems everything that could go wrong has done.

However, realism is important – we aren’t out of the woods yet by a long chalk.  Without wishing to be disrespectful the run Coventry are on away from the Ricoh Arena makes them probably the biggest home banker you’ll ever see in this league.  What was promising was a few things – an ineffective starting eleven was adjusted at half time, and whilst even the second half performance wasn’t groundbreaking, we got the goals and the result.

I can forgive quite a lot if we get the result – so well done to the team and, figure of much criticism, the manager for that.  Of course, one swallow does not make a summer – and with a daunting trip to Birmingham up next there’s still plenty to worry about.  Hopefully McCleary’s injury isn’t too bad as his ongoing impact is something we are coming to depend upon – and it must’ve been great for Findley to net afterthat first touch against Watford.

There were two changes  to the side that fell up at the Riverside midweek, Marcus Tudgay and Andy Reid coming in to replace Ishmael Miller and Marlon Harewood in a strange looking selection that I can at best represent like this:

Wootton  Chambers   Higginbotham   Elokobi
Gunter    Moussi    Guerdioura   McCleary

It’s fair to say the first half was a largely dull affair – the match preview moniker of ‘The Clash of the Shite ‘Uns‘ was certainly looking apt.  We forced an early corner through good work from Guerdioura passing to Gunter who forced the ball over the line off a Coventry defender.  The ball in from Reid wasn’t the best though and fairly easily gathered by the Sky Blues ‘keeper Joe Murphy.

At the other end whilst Coventry – much like us – looked devoid of confidence and ideas, Alex Nimely looked a bit of a livewire – a decent strike from the loan man from around 25 yards wasn’t too far wide with Camp diving across.  Forest had a similar opportunity when Garath McCleary found Tudgay with plenty of space to pick out a shot from around 20 yards which he put wide – he really ought to have been hitting the target.

Other half-opportunities came when a clever flick from Reid set Elokobi loose down the left side, he fired in a dangerous cross but there was nobody in the right place to convert it.  The half progressed with both sides spectacularly wasteful in possession and creating practically nothing.  One close effort from McCleary who cut in from the left and tried to a curl a shot in from the edge of the area, it deflected and gave us another corner (which, of course, came to nowt).

Coventry registered what was probably the first shot on target of the game towards the end of the half, Norwood put the ball in from the left finding McSheffrey whose shot was tame and easy for Camp to gather.  The former Reds loanee was causing trouble shortly after too, getting a shot away which deflected for a corner – they had a few corners at the death which, much like us, they never really looked like doing a great deal with!

The half time whistle was greeted with boos.  I have mixed feelings on this – I respect people’s right to express themselves but I can’t see booing being helpful while the game is ‘live’ so to speak.  I suppose it’s possible it might’ve spurred on the players – but I’m not quite so sure about that.  Certainly the healthy but one-song-obsessed (which was apparently written by Jimmy Hill) following from Coventry applauded their side off.

Steve Cotterill obviously recognised the lack of – well – pretty much anything in the first half and elected to make a couple of changes.  He withdrew Wootton (who’d had bugger all to do really) and Tudgay (who was spectacularly ineffective) for Blackstock and Findley, and reverted to a more conventional formation with Gunter moving back to fullback, McCleary on the right and Reid on the left (initially, at least).

The early signs were quite positive – a ball in from Gunter caused a degree of bedlam in the box, the ball ending up going in the air and Murphy spilling the ball under pressure from Blackstock.  The ball spun away and struck the post before eventually being bundled away for a corner.  McCleary and Gunter combined well to ultimately give Gunts an opportunity – but Murphy was out quick to smother the chance – a pity, would’ve been great for Gunts to exorcise the demons of last week!

A rare break from Coventry almost gave them the lead – a long hoof forward was nodded back well by the giant Sky Blues striker Clive Platt where it sat up nicely for the onrushing Gary Deegan who absolutely leathered it from around 20 yards, putting it just wide.  It would’ve been some goal.  This spurred them on with McSheffrey putting it across the area, with Chambers needing to put a block in at the expense of a corner.

I thought we had scored when a ball in by McCleary found Reidy lurking at close range – he got a foot on it, diverted it goalwards only to be stopped by a cracking save from Murphy.  Moments later Blackstock fed the ball to Findley in the area who was clearly hacked down.  Referee Mark Clattenburg wasn’t interested – and, perhaps, that’s for the best.  Of course, we could always have missed a penalty, and we didn’t have to wait long for retribution!

The exact build-up for McCleary’s opener is a little bit sketchy – I think Chambers put the ball to him, the winger picked the ball up from the half way line right of centre – and basically ran at Coventry who – to a man – back off him until getting to the edge of the area, where he got past a couple before opening up an opportunity to place a left footed shot well into the bottom left corner.  Top marks to Garath – but a poor show from Coventry.  We’d have been gutted to concede a goal like that!

Gaz was substituted shortly after which was baffling at the time, but it turns out he’s been feeling his hamstring a bit all week and as a precaution was withdrawn for forgotten man Jonathan Greening.  He took up position on the left, with Reidy moving right.  He was immediately involved with some committed challenges – good to see.  A scare occured when Guerdioura went down injured but after treatment he continued.

The nerves were finally settled when Andy Reid picked up the ball deep and picked out a delicious pass to Robbie Findley who did really well with timing his run to beat the offside trap, chest the ball down and slot the ball under Murphy to basically secure the points for us.  A big relief for all concerned – well done to all concerned, but you’ll forgive our cynicism in stating this is the beginning of a recovery, one that needs to continue if we are to survive.

It feels good to look at that league table and see us not in the bottom three, but we’re not too far from it still, and whilst I’m delighted to have won it was against probably the worst team we’ve seen here for some time – against whom we really only offered a proper match too for part of the second half.  It’s hard to feel too confident on the strength of that, however, we should enjoy the moment.

Check out Big G’s goal, it was nice…

15 Responses

  1. Great result!!!
    A welcome 3 points.
    Love those tricky feet of McLeary!
    One might say he’s a tricky tree. Hope
    he can stay fit as every team needs
    a player who can break a deadlock.
    Especially with McGugan on the outer.
    Now on to Birmimgham……. Hmmmmmm.

  2. Great result ! What a relief ! Lets hope the team feel better seeing our league position and ease a bit of the tension, especially our strikers snatching at shots in front of goal ! Sensible substitutions and the right result.
    Still 21,000 crowd,while Sunderland only managed 26,000 in a cup tie with Arsenal !
    Regarding our form ,league position and er quality of opposition,it shows what a fantastic fan base we have !!
    I hope all connected with Forest really appreciate what they have !
    Beating the bottom clubs when they visit us is essential and today was a good start !!Phew !!!

  3. Good report fella and I agree with your analysis its very early to get excited lots of work still to do .There keeper basically was lucky with reidys flick it hit his head we should have beat them 4 nil in my opinion.

    We need 6 more wins to stay up if we can beat those around us and get a couple of draws then the great escape is on .Its going to be very close indeed the booing is senseless and aids the opposition we need to pull together better sides will rise to that.

    Cotter -nil looked very emotional on forest player after the game hes feeling it big time I think we are stuck with him they wont sack him no chance .

    We live in hope ……

  4. What a weekend, Forest won, kept a clean sheet, scored twice, moved out of the bottom 3 by 3 points thanks to cheating pompy, Derby got hammered 4.0 county got hammered 3.0 them sacked martin allen and iv’e now got a week off work and get pissed. Fucking get in there…

  5. The first 45 was probably the most inept performance I’ve seen EVER from a Forest team. Talk about hoofball?!?!

    Why on earth Cotterill went to 4-4-1-1 after the numerous chances we created against Watford playing a basic 4-4-2 is beyond me. As soon as we went to 4-4-2 after the break we were a completely different team. Now I’m sure my view of the game is very simplistic compared to those of a professional coach or manager BUT Reidy just behind Tudgay was never going to work.

    Anyway I welcome the result but this was just a battle won and not the war and we still need to improve. For me, especially link up play between the midfield and the strikers as better teams than Coventry will soon be able to suss us out.

    The excitement in the UBE after we scored the second was unbelieveable. I mean, a Forest team scoring TWO goals in one game. Whatever next??

  6. What on earth was Cotterill doing in the first half? Just the hopeless Tudgay up front by himself? At home, against the bottom club? Cotterill is the most hopeless manager I have ever known. Still, at least he got it right in the second half. Apart from the lack of McGugan and Radi – are they both injured? Also, check out the size of Elokobi! He’s got to be 20 stone! He’s an enormo-player!

  7. Shocking first half,three points off just as crap a side,Cotternil to Notts anyone.

  8. Robin chipperfield thinks that Majewski’s and Mcgugan’s agents are trying to start rumours of them leaving and falling out with Cotterill to get them move’s else where. If that is the case they can both fuck off we need players fighting for the cause not sulking and trying to get a move else where.

  9. I see Mr Cotterill stated that nerves made it impossible to play the passing high tempo football we all want to see! So what happened in all the previous games he has managed us for then? I would suggest the inane tactic of bloody Camp hoofing it aimlessly straight to the oppositions back 2 every time he has the ball is the more likely reason. Well done to all those who sang “we are Nottingham Forest,we play on the floor” Are you listening Messrs Cotterill and Camp?????

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

  11. Well “Cockall” knows F all about football still. However he did say in last game if we kept a clean sheet we would have won that!?!?!?
    Great 3 points and out of the drop!?! Bloody amazing second half.
    Come on U Reds!!!!!!!!

  12. First half – dire. Playing FOUR players out of their favoured position and in effect Tudgay as a lone (yet deep lying) striker

    Second half – play everyone in position and 2 up front. Much better.

    Cotterill needs to realise when we need to neutralise stronger opposition and when we need to press home our advantage against weaker teams. I hope the second half means he’s learned something.

    Brum will be tough – but I have to say I was fearing we’d lose against coventry and be too far away from safety to turn it around. As it is we’re 3 points above the drop, and only 3 points off brissl with a game in hand.

    Fact is now – if we perform as well as those in the positions below us we will stay up!!!! Pompey will likely recover though, so millwall and bristol are the teams to beat.

    Nice feeling leaving the city ground with 3 points. I’d almost forgotten what it is like. Nice.

  13. I know McCleary’s goal will get all the attention, but I thought Findley’s was better. As you noted, Garath’s goal owed much to the parting of the sky-blue sea in front of him, although you have to say he took it really well. Reid’s pass for Findley was top-drawer, and the striker had to have quick feet to hit it as early as he did.

    It might just have been the view from my seat – but did anyone else think the second goal looked a bit like a touchdown in American Football? With Reid playing the part of quarterback and Findley coming in from wide-receiver into the end-zone (18 yard box) for the touchdown? No? Just me then…

    Well played you red ‘uns, and well done Mr Cotterill for the half-time change.

  14. A very good weekend indeed but still worrying signs for me with regards to Clotterill’s bizarre starting line-up. Yes he changed it at half time but I wonder how that came about and who really prompted it plus it also so nearly cost us. We had to use 2 subs, just to set up with a decent formation, and then McCleary, Guedioura and Reid picked up knocks that could have seen us depleted before the 90mins. We may still pay a price for having to keep the latter 2 on when they were clearly struggling.

    Shocking defending by Coventry for our first but Gareth took it well and really pleased for Findlay especially as the fans were getting on his back before the goal. Thought he took it really well and a great assist from Reidy (point to Clotterill again)! Mind watching the highlights today I did wonder if there was some tension between the players in the post goal celebrations. Despite that I also thought Dex and Findlay linked very well together and that they offered a genuine threat; I do hope Clotterill took note!

    So to the cliches – one swallow doesn’t make a summer but make hay while the sun shines. Haven’t had enough to smile about this season so last night I grinned like a Cheshire cat and had a few beers too many! Hoping it will continue to Brum!

  15. Even though the sky blue sea parted gmac still had loads to do, to run at that pace with the ball that tight to the foot is an art. The step over to open up his shooting chance was sublime. That goal was well worth the attention

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