Inching closer to safety..

Cotterill has almost fulfilled his mission to guide the Reds to safety

Nottingham Forest – 0
Blackpool – 0

It wasn’t a massively memorable game, but certainly it was one in which Forest dominated chances and possession and perhaps ought to have notched all three points against a surprisingly lacklustre Blackpool side.  That said, there were only a few clear-cut chances for either side – having said that, it justified more than the minute and Tangerine-biased coverage the Football League Show deemed fit to show.

Steve Cotterill stuck with the same system that has been paying dividends lately – making just the compulsory change he needed to due to Garath McCleary’s suspension, restoring Paul Anderson to the side on the right, and also sticking with the late change he made at Peterborough, with Lewis McGugan retaining his midfield spot in place of the injured Guy Moussi.

Gunter    Chambers    Lynch    Cunningham
Anderson    Guedioura    McGugan    Reid

It was Dex who perhaps was the man who should’ve been the one to break the Blackpool resolve – not least because I had him on my betting slip too!  As early as two minutes he had a great chance after a nice pass by Andy Reid played him through, he rushed the shot from the edge of the box when he had time to take a touch closer and compose himself.  The result was a shot off-target.

The visitors had a bit of play too, Chambers and Camp did well to thwart Dobbie from doing us damage after Guedioura had given the ball away.  Man-of-the-moment for Blackpool dragged an effort wide from 25 yards having cut in side.  Majewski had an effort on target after nicking the ball from Baptiste, but it was straight at Gilks.  Dex again was wasteful after either an amazing or fortuitous (I suspect the latter) put him clean through, but he lost his footing and put his shot over under pressure from the recovering defender.

A rare effective corner from Andy Reid was deep and towards a decent header from Paul Anderson of all people, bring a decent save from Gilks.  Dobbie was posing problems at the other end, as he tends to do against us, he got past Gunter to have a shot that was saved – but the ball came back to him, fortunately Chambers – looking much more composed than of late – was on hand to marshall him to take the ball out for a goal kick.

Greg Cunningham – having a cracking game coming forward, did well to cut into the box and have a powerful shot to the near post that was saved by Gilks.  Whilst I can’t blame him for having a go, it was regrettable he didn’t think to square it beyond the ‘keeper where a number of Forest players were laying in wait to pounce.  It was Cunningham again who created the best chance of the game – whipping a delicious cross in to Blackstock who met the ball well but headed straight at Gilks who made the save.

This save seemed to take its’ toll on the ‘keeper who required a chunk of treatment afterwards – with no reserve stopper on the bench it was a concerning moment for the visitors – but he last out ’til half time and presumably was able to get further treatment then.  The last chance of the half was again the Cunningham-Blackstock combination, this time Blackstock got his header horribly wrong and put it well wide.

So, half time.  One thing that struck us was the odd obsession the Blackpool fans seemed to have with us – chants of ‘Where were you in Premier League’ and, bizarrely, ‘how shit must you be, we beat you four times’ were quite common-place, and four-finger gestures harking back to two seasons ago when they of course beat us on four occasions (not, ironically, the number of points we’ve won against them this season).  All in all, it was a bit bemusing.  Still, if it keeps ’em happy!

Forest started the second half well by forcing a couple of corners – of course, a corner for us is as good as giving the opponents a goal-kick these days.  Blackpool threatened from he corner too – Dobbie whipped the ball in and found the tricky Thomas Ince at the back stick who headed goalward only to be thwarted by Lee Camp at the expense of another corner whic was this time cleared well by Chambers.

The referee, who’d been largely okay, missed what looked a pretty obvious trip on Gunter in the area by Phillips – he wasn’t having it though (having said that, Dobbie was clipped a couple of times in the area earlier in the game, and I’m sure I saw a couple of Forest players handball it, so maybe we shouldn’t complain too loudly!).  Blackstock again was set up with a chance to shoot at Gilks thanks to a great pass from McGugan, but he was unable to beat the Blackpool ‘keeper.

Forest continued to press, but struggled to create many clear-cut chances – giving Blackpool the opportunity to break, Dobbie again was the danger-man but was only able to direct his shot straight at Lee Camp.  Taylor-Fletcher perhaps could’ve done better with an effort after a poor punch from Lee Camp fell to him, but he was only able to put his effort wide of the far post.

Cotterill responded to the increased danger posed by the visitors by introducing ‘He’ll eat you alive’ George Elokobi for Andy Reid, pushing Cunningham further forward and putting the substitute left-back into defence.  Greening followed, replacing McGugan, about ten minutes later as the game rather fizzled out with neither side really haivng many ideas to try to break the deadlock.

Forest laboured forward, and good battling from Blackstock against two defenders saw the ball fall for Cunningham who again hit the target but was unable to beat Gilks.  Majewski was the last player to be withdrawn, replaced by Marcus Tudgay with a couple of minutes left on the clock.  Lynchinho could’ve sealed it with an amazing goal – he chested it down, beat a couple of players but was wild with his shot and put it off-target.

As the four minutes of stoppage time wound into six minutes plus, Blackpool started to pile on pressure and I must admit I was feeling pretty nervous we’d see yet another example of chucking away a game where we’d not deserved it.  Fortunately the opportunities they had late on from freekicks were both off-target, leaving the game to finish all square.  I thought we’d done enough to win, but then again, it was our own poor finishing that cost us!

So, we’re still seven points from danger – there are nine left to play for.  It ain’t mathematically close – but it’s close.  Doncaster of course succumbed to relegation in a controversial game against Portsmouth, who face a monumental challenge to stay up themselves.  With tricky looking trips to Reading, then Hull, it would’ve been nice to have got the win that would’ve all but guaranteed safety this weekend, but such is life!