Peterborough United vs. Forest preview..

I like to maintain a veneer of pessimism on the blog, as you might have noticed, but I had secretly and dearly hoped that this might be the start of the ‘we don’t need to worry too much about these’ fixtures had we mustered a win against Bristol City.  As we didn’t, it isn’t – points are still very much required as the Reds prepare for a short trip down the M1 to London Road to take on the Posh.

The weekend results could’ve been a lot worse for us were it not for Peterborough, in fairness, who limited Coventry to only picking up a point against them at the Ricoh Arena.  A good result for them and us, the Sky Blues have been on cracking form of late as they plot their survival in the Championship much like us.  It was ex-Forest fringe player Emile Sinclair who netted both goals in that game too, for those of you that like odd coincidences.

It’s likely to prove a stern test for the Reds – unlike us, Peterborough have a decent home record, they’ve won ten at home and scored a lot of goals at London Road, that said – Forest are on a very solid run of games away from the City Ground too, and taking into account the perhaps reasonable claim to bad luck in yesterday’s game against Bristol City, shouldn’t be going to face the Posh low on confidence.

We’ve no fresh injury concerns – so the gaffer will be undoubtedly having a dilemma over whether to stick with a line-up and system that has yielded pretty good results of late, and wasn’t far from doing so yesterday really but for some freak goalkeeping both in the bad sense for us, and the excellent sense for Bristol City.  I think that unchanged would be my preference which is why I fear that he might choose to mix things up.

Darren Ferguson

Peterborough welcomed back Gaby Zakunai to the team after injury, apparently he was involved in a bit of ‘banter’ (sic) with Forest fans on Twitter recently – until then I hadn’t heard of him.  Brief Forest-loanee George Boyd also returned to the side after a dead leg caused him to miss their victory over Leicester City.  Darren Ferguson – looking increasingly like Herr Lipp from ‘The League of Gentlemen’ (thanks LTLF forum for poiinting out that little gem!) might also be able to call upon Tyrone Bennett who has recovered from injury.

After the disappointing game on Boxing Day – a 1-0 defeat decided by a cracking strike from George Boyd – notwithstanding our fairly desperate need to register some points – we do owe Peterborough one anyway.  Funnily enough, on that day too we created a lot of chances but were thwarted by an excellent performance by Posh ‘keeper Joe Lewis.  Forest defy prediction at the moment, so I’m just going to leave it by saying we could really do with at least a point.

We’ve got a pretty daunting looking list of remaining fixtures when you’re in the kind of grumpy mood that I’m in currently (not helped by a massive hangover, admittedly).

One of those days..

Aside from an overly-defensive bench, difficult to know what else Cotterill could've done to swing the match in our favour..Nottingham Forest - 0

Nottingham Forest – 0
Bristol City – 1

A game where a Forest win all but sorts out the danger of relegation of course ended in a win for a side that hasn’t beaten us in god knows how long.  I suppose put like that it’s inevitable!  Whilst statistically Forest dominated, they lacked the killer touch – and with Robins ‘keeper Gerken in top form those opportunities we did create were well stopped along with some heroic defensive blocks.

Juxtaposed with that was our keeper who had two things to do all game and buggered the both up – one resulting in the penalty that decided the game, the other in a goal that appeared to be wrongly chalked off for offside – so it could’ve been worse.  It wasn’t a good advert for Championship football, two struggling teams locking horns and trading drunken punches – but t’was to the visitors the spoils – I suppose a nice reward for the tiny number of Bristol City fans still keeping the faith with their team.

Since he’s found a formula that appears to be working, Steve Cotterill stuck with the formula that’s delivered our unbeaten run – and I think we’d probably be criticising him if he hadn’t:

Gunter    Chambers    Lynch    Cunningham
McCleary    Moussi    Guedioura    Reid

It wasn’t a rip-roaring start, but some nice work between Majewski and McCleary down the right culminated in the winger crossing towards Blackstock, it was cut out before reaching the striker by Amougou in the Bristol defence.  City offered very little going forward, set up to frustrate and kick lumps out of our forwards, who were a little more lacklustre than we’ve seen of late.

One opportunity for the visitors came from a freekick which went through the danger-area in the six yard box, but out the other end.  Forest did dominate possession, and created chances of sorts – McCleary picked up the ball after a visiting defender had slipped, he got a shot away which looked on target but it was blocked for a corner.  More than once we tried a stupid short-corner routine that ended with us losing the ball – frustrating.

A Reidy cross was met well by Dexter Blackstock but his looping header ended up just over the bar, although it’s doubtful Gerken wouldn’t have kept it out had it been on target.  At the other end a City corner was put in by McAllister and headed back across goal before being cleared by Chambers.  Shortly after Chris Wood picked up the ball miles out and fired a shot well wide of the Forest goal.

The first half ended with Forest mounting pressure without being able to break the deadlock – Guedioura clipped a lovely ball over the defence to Gunter down the right, he put in a dangerous cross across the goalmouth but out of reach of the Forest playres in the box.  Some nice play between Reid and Blackstock saw Reidy hit a decent shot that was well-saved by Gerken.

Raddy caught a glimpse of goal but fired well with about five minutes to go ’til half time, shortly after he teed up Guedioura who also failed to hit the target with an effort from outside the area.  So at half time it was nil-nil, whilst Forest had dominated there was a concern over the lack of penetration and clear-cut opportunities we’d created.  City had come to limit damage – understandable in their position, but there will always be opportunities.

It appeared to be more of the same early in the second half, a cross, a Blackstock header – not enough power so ended up just over the bar.  Reid was scythed down on the edge of the area, he took the resultant freekick which was well-saved by Gerken at his far post.  City made their first substitution early doors, with Ephraim coming off for Adomah.

A cross from City right-back Foster had Camp backpedalling – I thought he’d parried it into the area, the match report on the Forest site claims it hit the bar – either way it ended up with Jon Stead, who was controlling the ball with his back to goal as the Forest keeper came piling off his line and flattened him.  A poor decision, a clumsy challenge, and unsurprisingly a penalty to the visitors which was duly converted with aplomb by Chris Wood.

Forest continued to press without really opening up the visitors – a Reid freekick was well met by the head of Joel Lynch only to inevitably be denied by a cracking save from Gerken.  Majewski found the side netting after a nice through-ball from Guedioura, and shortly after hitting the side-netting again via deflected effort at the back post after a corner.  Reidy and McCleary were reduced to long-range efforts off-target as City’s defence held firm.

Cotterill kept his substitute powder very dry – he introduced Tudgay after 85 minutes for Moussi – it nearly paid off, he met a Reid corner well in the area, but of course Gerken was on hand to make the save.  As the injury time board went up Camp had his second thing to do in the game, and arsed it up again – a Wood shot was parried right back into the danger zone by the Forest ‘keeper and was turned in by Woolford.  The linesman’s flag was up, I’m not sure that it should have been though.

Forest continued to labour forward, and a late freekick was awarded – this was crossed in by Andy Reid and Chambers rose to meet it with his head, only to see his effort saved by Dean Gerken – surely man of the match.  That was pretty much it, at some point we had a pretty clear-looking shout for a penalty as Blackstock was floored at the near-post in the second half, but well, we just don’t get given penalties any more, do we?

A frustrating afternoon – with safety all but attainable with a win we’ve managed to undo a great deal of our good work lately by losing the one game we really didn’t ought to be losing.  It certainly gives yesterday’s visitors a real lifeline as they overtake Coventry in the bottom three, and reduce our gap to the drop-zone to just four points, and compounds our frankly disgraceful home record this season – can’t blame the fans either, who were in supportive mood I thought.

It’s difficult to be too criticial – by and large Forest tried to play the right way but things just didn’t quite come off, and Lee Camp had a really bad day at the office.  On another day the same level of performance would’ve yielded a home win and we’d all be happy – so we need to be a little philosophical, but be wary of the appalling timing of a game like this – we really could’ve done with losing to Bristol City, but well, we have – we need to look forward to Monday.