Forest install Transfer Windows 2012 upgrade..

Transfer windows used to be shit, didn’t they?  Particularly deadline day, but what a day we’ve had today!

Normally I switch off on deadline day, hoping we don’t lose one of the few players someone else might want we have left whilst accepting the inevitable lack of incoming activity from the Reds.

To be honest, it wouldn’t have been a disaster had we not signed anybody today, but after the gathering storm of rumours, we did.  And then some.

James Coppinger

Not one, but two.  James Coppinger reportedly hopped off the Doncaster team bus on its’ way to Yeovil at a service station to agree a move on loan to us until January, and after this – with mounting excitement across the Internet – it transpired we’d not finished and have somehow convinced Southampton that loaning us Billy Sharp for a season is a good idea!

I’ve long admired both players – particularly Sharp, ever since he put three past us when Scunthorpe beat us 4-0.  He’s always done well against us, and his goal scoring record is tremendous – he obviously knows Sean O’Driscoll rather well too – as does Coppinger, a right winger – which has been a notable gap in our squad of late!

Billy Sharp

So not only has the entire transfer window experience been a definite upgrade on what we’re used to, the culmination of this – eleven signings in seven weeks – is what I think a rather more balanced and stronger squad than we had as the season commenced.  That’s huge testimony to the Al Hasawi family and Sean O’Driscoll who certainly haven’t rested on their laurels!

Right from when the John Pye sponsorship was announced and the Pye family could barely contain big grins in the old Shipstones building (as a lad who grew up falling in love with footballers in Shipstones sponsored shirts this felt like providence!) I had a glimmer of hope that better times might follow – but well, I’m still somewhat shellshocked and just what a good job the new owners have done.

Let’s take a moment to consider how our squad has changed over the last few weeks…

In Out
Collins Lynch
Harding Cunningham
Ayala Chambers
Hutchinson Gunter
Halford Freeman
Lansbury McCleary
Coppinger Anderson
Sharp McGoldrick
Cox Miller
Guedioura Guedioura
Lascelles Elokobi

Okay, Lascelles is a bit of a cheat, but we can chuck in a bonus Gillett as well, who arguably replaces the role that we’ve never quite managed to sort out since McKenna left, and things like the return of Cohen and Blackstock from injury and well – wow. Then factor in that we’ve done this business without spending ridiculous amounts of money and it’s just incredible.

Both Sharp and Coppinger are eligible to play tomorrow should Sean O’Driscoll deign to do so – coming in on loan strangely doesn’t come with the same noon deadline for signing the day before a game that a permanent signing does.  Given how well the gaffer knows his new charges, I wouldn’t bet against them being involved in some way…

I was already struggling to come up with a starting line-up before today, now we’ve added some more dilemmas – but nice ones!  Of course, as I type there’s still a little over half an hour of the window left – but we’re not about to pull something else out of the bag are we?  That would just be greedy.

Forest vs. Charlton Athletic preview..

From one Athletic that call themselves Latics to another that call themselves Addicks, Forest are preparing for a home game this time against Charlton.  Having cantered to promotion from League One last season and – like us – enjoying an unbeaten start to life in the Championship, make no mistake – they’ll fancy a go at all three points.

They’ve recently added Riccardo Fuller to their ranks – and he’s in line to make his first appearance for Chris Powell’s side having missed out at the weekend where they drew 0-0 with Hull.  Of course, with the transfer window looming there could be both arrivals or departures for both sides before the game – but Forest are likely to give a debut to Henri Lansbury.

Certainly if this Charlton fan’s blog is in any way typical of their thinking, they don’t seem remotely fazed by us – indeed, I’d go so far as to say they are somewhat disparaging!  That said, in between the unnecessary waspishness there are some reasonable observations – whilst not taking into account the newness of our side and time needed to gel after a crap pre-season (and perhaps basing much of their views on the Wigan game where we certainly weren’t at our best).

As for not being merry with an 11th placed finish, obviously that Charlton fan didn’t keep much tabs on the shambles we were last season – I’d still be content with that now as we rebuild!  I’m not sure what ‘the Massives’ are that they reference – but certainly I’ve been taking an interest in Charlton as our next opponents, like I do most weeks!

So, Charlton enjoyed a pretty extensive pre-season to help continue the momentum of an excellent season in League One.  They’ll be looking to the likes of Southampton and Norwich who made the adjustment to the Championship look stupifyingly easy and attained promotion up again.  Early signs are good, as mentioned above, with them remaining unbeaten in the league.

The season opener in the Capital One Cup saw them out in the first round at the hands of Leyton Orient on penalties after drawing 1-1 in regulation time, but that blip aside they’ve picked up a couple of draws and a win, like us.  An opening day 1-1 with Birmingham at St. Andrews, a home victory of 2-1 over Leicester and a 0-0 draw with Hull city at home last weekend.

It’s a decent start against tricky opponents.  Cort, Kermogent and Bradley Wright-Phillips have all netted so far in the league, and they’ll of course be looking for goals from Fuller too as he embeds himself in the side.  As I write they’ve not got a preview up yet so I’m assuming there’s no injury worries for them – for us we have Tudgay struggling but otherwise we are okay.

Like all of our games it’s a difficult one to predict, particularly since our opponents are a bit of an unknown quantity – however they are on a good run and not to be underestimated.  If there’s one thing I’m confident of with Sean O’Driscoll in charge it’s that we won’t be underestimating anyone.

I’m looking forward to it and hoping that some of the more negative fans who came out of the woodwork for the cup game opt to either change their mindset or stay away.  Similarly I most certainly expect a better performance than we saw in spells against Wigan, I’m sure the boys are eager to put that result to bed with an impressive followup.

It will be interesting to see what happens when Mull of Kintyre goes up pre-match because it’s song that the Charlton fans adopted around the time they moved back to The Valley in the late 80’s.  Whilst it has had a resurgence of late with the pre-match routine, to my knowledge our lot have been singing it pretty much since it was released.

Latics give Reds a lesson in finishing..

Simon Cox continues his impressive run of scoring or creating goals in an otherwise disappointing evening for the Reds..

Nottingham Forest – 1
Wigan Athletic – 4

Oof – that was a bit of a lesson from the Latics on finishing, for sure!  Having said that a heavily-tinkered-with Reds side had their moments against a strong visiting side – but ultimately didn’t quite have the attacking craft to get the goals that a combination of excellent attacking and some suspect defending had granted Wigan opportunities at the other end.

Still, having slumped to 3-0 down at half time it was good to see Forest continue to press their game in the second half and get a consolation goal – a 30 yarder from Simon Cox.  Unfortunately even when reduced to ten men the Premier League opponents still proved a cut above us at this stage and countered brilliantly to get a final goal to regain their three goal deficit.

Sean O’Driscoll made a few changes to the line-up, introducing some recently injured players, as well as some of those on the fringes, giving us a slightly unbalanced looking side comprising something like this:

Halford   Ayala   Collins   Harding
Cohen   Gillett   Moussi    Reid
McGoldrick    Cox

Initially the Moose was playing the more overt holding role with Gillett further advanced than we’d seen before, McGoldrick and Cox were alternating in dropping deep to support the midfield whilst Cohen and Reid played the narrow extremities of the diamond.  As always though, it wasn’t always clear who was covering where in midfield and perhaps with this unfamiliar midfield line-up it showed amongst the players a little more.

It was a pretty open start to the game, with both sides pressing forward without creating too much by the way of opportunities.  Just as it seemed Forest were making some headway and building pressure Wigan hit us with an excellent suckerpunch of a counterattack.

Alcaraz picked up the ball and found Gomez who played a ball out on the right to Stam, arguably Harding could’ve done more to prevent the cross from coming in – once it had it would’ve been harder for Boselli to miss a close range header into the Trent End goal.  A really devastating move from the Latics.

This seemed to take the wind out of Forest’s sails and we seemed to lose our sense of purpose – we had been closing down brilliantly further up the field and making it really difficult for Wigan to play from the back, but our defence wasn’t quite so hot on closing down.  This was part of the problem when Figueroa picked up the ball from 30 yards and unleashed, well, it was a belter.  And it doubled the lead.

This left us looking somewhat shell-shocked and seemed to give Wigan real confidence in pushing forward – and just before half time they picked up their third goal where the tiny Albert Crusat got the ball to Gomez, Collins unusually got caught ball-watching and didn’t close him down, so he duly put a great shot from range into the top corner giving Camp no chance (despite the protestations of the idiot sitting near me that Camp had ‘let in three soft goals’ – honestly!).

So half time and comfortably behind – a bit of a return to earth after a cracking start to the season and of course the excitement of Henri Lansbury being unveiled to the crowd before the game.  Potentially a useful one though – look at Sean O’Driscoll’s post-match comments, as ever, our mild-mannered gaffer has a brilliant outlook.  But they were his post match comments, we have a second half to get through!

It started really rather well – a long punt from Camp found Cox who was able to spin his marker around forty yards out and advancing towards goal, before the other defenders could get to him he’d unleashed a lovely shot which curled away from Al-Habsi in the Wigan goal before nestling neatly into the top corner – game on?  Well, perhaps not, but certainly it perked Forest up.

We did put some pressure on them – McGoldrick (being roundly and largely unfairly criticised from sections of the crowd, some of our fans honestly baffle me with their negativity and downright idiocy considering where we’ve been in recent years and how things are looking this season!) and Reid both had chances but couldn’t beat the Wigan keeper.

Even a dismissal of Alcaraz for a second booking after a clumsy challenge on Moussi didn’t do enough to swing the tie in our favour.  McGoldrick brought a good save from Al-Habsi, but ultimately we didn’t really threaten the goal enough – which is where Wigan gave us a final lesson in countering with Miyaichi breaking down the left and finding McManaman who got past Collins and slotted the ball coolly in the net.

No doubt Wigan were worthy winners – which is perhaps a useful reminder, if any were needed, that we have some way to go before we’re the finished article.  It’s something a fair few of the fans around me could do with remembering at least.  I’m not one for simply smiling and cheering no matter what happens, but I really struggle to comprehend how some supporters reacted during and after the game.

It was a minority though, so I shall cease being wound up by it.  The bottom line is we played some nice stuff at times, but showed our naïvity too.  Then again, let’s remember that we changed a lot of personnel, take heart in seeing Chris Cohen on a pitch again – and look forward to seeing how Sean O’Driscoll and the squad take the lessons that Wigan dealt to us and apply them to our league campaign, starting on Saturday against Charlton.

Forgive the hasty report – I’ve got an early start tomorrow so wanted to get it done tonight rather than dragging it out!  I am disappointed we didn’t contest the game a bit more, but was kind of expecting it to be a struggle when I saw just how much Sean had tinkered with midfield.  Still looking forward to Saturday, and of course, we can concentrate on the league now (you have to say that, don’t you? 😉 ).

All in all, this is the day we’ll remember as the day we signed Henri Lansbury – we’ll probably brush this game under the carpet!

Forest vs. Wigan Athletic preview..

Normally this kind of draw might prove uninteresting – but I’ll be honest, I’m really looking forward to seeing Sean O’Driscoll’s red and white army pit their wits against Roberto Martinez’s Latics.  They’re a side who have developed the kind of playing style under the Spanish manager that we are starting to aspire to, so it will be a stern test of our side.

Whilst we have no fresh injury concerns, comments from the gaffer suggest he is eyeballing a few changes – Chris Cohen might be ready for a return having got back to training, Tudgay and Moussi are also nursing injuries but may be ready for a return, whilst Ayala is making progress with his hip problem and might be ready for a return tot he side.

Wigan have no injury problems, but reports suggest that Martinez will be looking to rest some of his key players and take the opportunity to test his squad depth.  Facing a slightly weakened team with probably a small number of away (and home!) fans is a good opportunity for both our new charges to gel further, but also for the gaffer to test some new ideas outside of the league programme.

I expect it to be a tough challenge, it will be interesting to see how we shape up against a side that will try to play in a similar way to what we aspire to do – admittedly it’s a game that both teams are likely to regard as a bit of a low priority exercise in the context of their overall season, but equally a game in which either side could take heart from winning.

Winning is a good habit to be getting into, after all, and from a Forest perspective having and unbeaten start to the season is something that would be great to drag out for as long as possible.  Those of you umming and aahing about coming down to the City Ground given than it’s being televised, go on, come down – it could be great!

Reds repell physical Bolton for a point..

“I didn’t see a shove”, said Kevin Davies post-match. Cheating git.

Bolton Wanderers – 2
Nottingham Forest – 2

A bit of frustration, but a lot of pride in the boys after this performance.  Our first test of an overtly physical side and whilst of course there are lessons to be learned (not least that referees cannot be relied upon to see what is patently obvious – but we knew that already!) there are so many positive signs to be taken.

The first half hour of the match saw Forest impose their passing game on the hosts who had little answer beyond bludgeoning their way into the game.  Kevin Davies was booked early for annihilating Dan Harding for no good reason – that would probably prove unfortunately as subsequently the troublesome frontman seemed to have immunity from any action from the referee at all.

Lewis McGugan had given us the lead with an absolute thunderbolt, but in the last ten to fifteen minutes of the first half Bolton realised our naivity in dealing with their more physical approach and looked dangerous in the final moments of the second half – particularly given their apparent freedom to shove our players where they liked when launching balls into the area.

The second half continued with home dominance initially, and the lead for them following a lapse from Greg Halford gifting the ball to Davies to tee up Sordell for a smart finish.  We did come back though having doggedly attempted to get the ball on the deck and were rewarded with a tremendous finish from Reidy to level.  Both sides could have nicked it in the closing stages.

Sean O’Driscoll opted not to change the formula that had worked so well at Huddersfield and named the same starting eleven.

Moloney    Halford   Collins    Harding
Guedioura   Gillett  McGugan   Reid
Blackstock   Cox

On the bench Ishmael Miller was absent – it turns out because we’ve loaned him for a season to Middlesbrough.  Seems like a good move all round to me – through injury, managerial turnover and – well – frankly unimpressive appearances in a Forest shirt clearly pastures new could be a good thing for the striker, and it would be good to get his wages paid by someone else!

As noted above – less than a minute was on the clock when the evening’s pantomime villain Kevin Davies was booked for a late challenge on Harding.  If this was the referee attempting to assert his authority on the match, it didn’t work.  Davies – who looks like a fat Kingsley Black – continued to elbow, shove and foul his way through the game with no further punishment.

In the early play a decent cross in from Moloney was nearly turned into his own net by former Forest target Matt Mills.  Whilst the resulting corner was cleared, it found McGugan who cut inside and fired a tame left footed effort goalward which was easily dealt with by Bogdan.  Dex too fired straight at the keeper from a tight angle when perhaps trying to pick out Cox in the box would’ve been a better bet.

A quarter of an hour in and a Bolton throw-in was eventually intercepted by the Reds, as the ball fell to McGugan 30 yards out I thought he might step outside of the defender and go for a far post strike, but he unleashed an absolute piledriver into the near top corner, swerving, dipping -it looked delicious from my seat directly behind him – it clipped the bar and found the net – Bogdan had no chance at all.

Forest were buoyed by the strike, and continued to press – with McGugan turning provider, Cox wasn’t able to direct his effort away from the Bolton ‘keeper.  Bolton were stirring through, Bolton’s first proper assault on our goal saw Collins get his head to the ball ahead of Davies to nod behind.  The referee gave a goal kick when it clearly should’ve been a corner.

Adlene Guedioura was the latest to fire an effort pretty much straight at Bogdan, but as Bolton started to close down our passing much more readily they did fight their way back into it.  A ball into the box was heading for Collins who was unceremoniously shoved over by Davies, who then headed against the post.  The ball came out to Eagles who finished coolly to equalise with the Reds players quite rightly pointing out the push.

The referee ignored this – as he had ignored Davies’ earlier two-handed propulsion of Halford into Matt Mills during another corner, with both players ending up needing treatment before returning to the action.  At one point the referee did had a word with Davies about his, well, I can only call it cheating – presumably reminding him he was on a yellow, alas he never made good with that warning.

Bolton tails were well and truly up now – and Marvin Sordell should really have done better when the Reds defence deigned to give him far too much space in the box to be picked out by a cross which he tried to loop over Camp.  Campy was equal to it and made the save by tipping over for another corner. A final scare came when Mears outpaced Harding to get a cross in, but Halford was able to get it clear.

So half time all square – Bolton’s ground is okay for a relative new-build.  It is set edge of town in a retail park much like Derby’s, which I don’t like.  At times the home fans made some noise, to be fair – a section of them relying on a poxy drummer to achieve this.  Despite also being a weeknight game, and a match televised on Sky, Forest took 1,366 fans – 400 more than Derby managed on Tuesday’s untelevised trip.

Amusingly the Bolton fans made a few jibes of us ‘coming in a taxi’ despite their less than impressive home attendance.

Whilst I have complained a lot about their first goal, there’s nobody to blame but ourselves for their second – early in the second half I can only assume Halford was trying to shepherd the ball out for a goal kick, but Davies was alert to this and picked his pocket.  The pass he made to Sordell left the Team GB striker with a lot to do, and it was a nice finish at an awkward height that saw him direct the ball in off the far post to give Bolton the lead.

He ought to have put the game to bed, too – Sordell again found space in the area but lacked composure and put his side-footed effort over.  Forest took a while to get back into the game, but having at least limited Bolton’s opportunities we were starting to get the ball on the deck again and play some football – and after about ten minutes or so of tentatively working our way back into the game we had our reward.

Collins clipped a good ball forward which Blackstock was able to flick on to Cox, he found Reid who’d made a clever run with a bit of space and he lofted an immaculate finish over Bogdan and in off the far post.  From my seat I was convinced he’d put it over and was almost head-in-handing as it dropped under the bar, off the post and in – a lovely lovely goal and really gave the ‘keeper absolutely no chance at all.

Guedioura was subject to calls of ‘Off! Off! Off!’ from the home fans aftera  late challenge on Ricketts.  He picked up a booking, which was probably about right – particularly considering the leniency showed elsewhere by the officials.  Bolton were roused into further action, Andrews headed straight at Camp from close range, and Davies should have hit the  target unmarked in the 6 yard box but he volleyed over.

Forest too fancied their chances of snagging a first away win of the season – Cox put a header at the back stick wide under close attentions of Tyrone Mears.  He was so frustrated at not scoring he punched the goalpost – although I don’t think it was that easy-a-chance.  Reidy had another effort that he put just over this time, and the final chance of the match came when the Reds broke thanks to Gillett, he ended up down the right and put in a wicked teasing ball that Cox couldn’t quite get on the end of.

All in all, delighted with the point – of course there are niggles, gripes and injustices – but it’s great to see Forest undergo a stern test from a side who are very good at what they do.  Bristol and Huddersfield attempted to play on the deck like us, so it’s good to see us face up to a brutish side and come out with a point, and have a reasonable case for feeling disappointed that it’s only one (despite what Owen Coyle says in his baffling post-match interview!).

Bolton fans booed their team off – which perhaps belies expectations of a simple ascension back to the top flight they’ve occupied for the last few years.  It’s true they should be a contender, but listening to the locals on the way out of the ground it would appear that Owen Coyle’s conversion of them back to a rather one-dimensional percentage football team isn’t popular.  I must admit I was expecting a bit more craft from them rather than a battering ram approach.

As I continue to stress, this Forest side is a work in progress – to have gone three games unbeaten has really exceeded my expectations and I can only reiterate my admiration for the Al Hasawi family, Sean O’Driscoll and his coaching team and the squad for the remarkable way they have worked to begin what is hopefully a positive era for the club – I’m so proud of them all, that they are achieving results and doing so playing the kind of football that I want to see.

The last words for Greg Halford who plaintively tweeted an apology after the match for his part in the second Bolton goal – don’t apologise, Greg – learn from it, get stronger – this season is our opportunity to stand or fall united as a football club.  We can accept mistakes, there will be many as the season goes on, when we see such effort and the embryonic stages of a football team we can start to feel proud of again after so long.

I’m really looking forward to Tuesday night’s game against Wigan which is – if I’m honest – probably the kind of game that I would be tempted to skip under previous regimes.  Right now I can’t get enough of Forest and long may it continue!

Can’t imagine many of you haven’t seen them, but the highlights are down here before the YouTube police take them away…

Bolton Wanderers vs. Forest preview..

A daunting prospect for the Reds.  A trip to the Reebok Stadium, just three days after their last game – and in front of the Sky cameras.  Oh, and it’s against one of the teams fancied to bounce straight back to the top flight having fallen through the Premier League trapdoor last season.

It’s not been a rip-roaring start from the Lancashire side – opening day defeat against local rivals Burnley perhaps provided a wake-up call that lead to them defeating Derby on Tuesday to register their first points of the season.  As well as retaining a decent squad, they’ve added the likes of Matt Mills and Keith Andrews to their ranks.

In terms of injuries, Keith Andrews broke his nose after clashing heads with veteran striker Kevin Davies this week so is a doubt, whilst Forest have no fresh worries – just Karl Darlow with his ankle injury and Daniel Ayala with a hip problem.  It seems likely to me that following the performance at Huddersfield the Reds would line up with the same team if possible.

With Owen Coyle at the helm Bolton do benefit from a manager eminently familiar with this level, having joined them from Burnley.  The consensus of Bolton fans seems to be undecided on his calibre – but, and we will benefit here, the stereotypical Allardyce ‘hoof’ team is a thing of the past, and Coyle does promote a passing style.

They look dangerous on the flanks, with Petrov on one side and Lee on the other – up front they have the evergreen Kevin Davies who certainly knows where the net is.  It should provide us with a decent challenge – I’m hoping to see Forest try to impose their own game as they did at the John Smith’s Stadium on Tuesday.

Of course, with Bogdan in goal should we find ourselves more deadly infront of goal we will meet the resistance of an excellent ‘keeper too – so well, a draw would be a good result – a win would be tremendous (and would put us momentarily on top of the table!).  I’m looking forward to the trip, though!

Unlucky Reds miss the chance to go top..

Goalscorer and goal-maker celebrate..

Huddersfield Town – 1
Nottingham Forest – 1

It’s natural enough to feel crestfallen when you concede a clumsy penalty with less than a minute to go giving your opponent their only shot on target all game, and an equaliser.  Disappointment is definitely the word to describe the journey back to Nottingham, but tempered with some real genuine positives too – even echoed on the Twittersphere from home fans at the game tonight too.  We played well, and were very unlucky not to get the win.

Ragged at times, and certainly whilst Huddersfield may not have hit the target before Rhodes stepped up to coolly put his penalty away off the post, they did create chances – chances they really should’ve done better with.  As did we, from McGugan rattling the post from range, Guedioura bringing a top save from their ‘keeper and a myriad of other scrambles and chances we should really be capitalising on.  This could have been a high scoring game with a bit more sharpness from both sides.

Certainly there was none of the ‘playing not to lose’ mentality we might have become accustomed to on our travels in recent years, Sean O’Driscoll made one change to his starting eleven – withdrawing Majewski for Cox in a more 4-4-2 type of formation (kinda – the midfield was still very fluid):

Moloney   Halford  Collins   Harding
Guedioura   McGugan   Gillett   Reid
Blackstock   Cox

It moved about a bit – Gillett undeniably was the main holding player, Cox played off Dex as much as alongside him and Guedioura was often pulled in from the right.  McGugan bust a gut to play a more box to box role, and whilst he came in and out of the game he was very influential for spells.  Reidy for the most part stayed leftish, but also found himself covering other areas of midfield as the game played itself out.

Worth mention is Huddersfield’s ground – I always want to call it the Galpharm but it’s now the John Smiths Stadium.  I am usually hugely disparaging of new build grounds, but I really liked this one – from the setting on a hill nestled in a wooded hillside overlooking the town, but also having distinct stands – a nice open concourse (of course, the lack of rain made that good!) – it’s a pleasant place to visit.  The home fans relied on an irritating drummer to try to fashion an atmosphere and I was surprised at the empty seats in the stand opposite and too our left.

We took just shy of 2,300 fans which is great for a Tuesday night away game.  Hitting the seats just before kick off it was difficult to find a spot for a group of us as the stand was so packed.  Always good to make sure the boys get good support on the road.

An open start to the game saw some genuine end-to-end moments – Scannell with a worrying about of space on the left didn’t profit from some slack marking early doors from Forest.  At the other end, with just four minutes on the clock, Lewis McGugan almost punished the home midfield for standing off him at around 25 yards out, striking a vicious curling shot which struck the inside of the post and away to safety.

After this a defensive slip gave Dex a sight of goal from a tight angle, but whilst on target he wasn’t likely to beat Smithies from the angle.  Our goal did come under some threat, Scannell again proving tricky and getting a shot away from the edge of the box but putting it just off target.  In true end-to-end style Blackstock got his head on a Reidy cross but put it wide.

Probably the chance of the game so far fell to the home side though, the usually composed Halford misjudged a hopeful ball clipped over the defence which saw Lee Novak clean through at close range, but he somehow conspired to balloon his effort into the away end – who were mostly both laughing and ‘phew’ing that the ball hadn’t fallen to Jordan Rhodes who was also lurking ominously in the area.

Forest continued to try to work an opening against Huddersfield, a header from Blackstock allowed Cox to break through onside but Smithies was equal to his effort, making the save with his legs.  After playing some really nice football down the right the impressive Moloney found Blackstock with an intelligent pass from the bye-line, he put a decent shot in but it was blocked on the line and his follow-up was deflected over.

So 0-0 at half time but plenty of positives – not dissimilar to previous games but certainly with much more attacking impetus than we’ve seen before and creation of chances.  Cox gave us a lively dimension up front giving Blackstock more support and whilst we’d had wobbles, the defence was looking solid too with the midfield working hard –  I was particularly impressed with Gillett again who always anticipates danger and tries to nip it in the bud before it develops.

The second half again saw Brendan Moloney combining well with Dex, the fullback burst into the area and found the striker who perhaps could’ve pulled the trigger sooner – eventually his effort was deflected behind for a corner with the home side looking a little desperate at the back.  Forest didn’t make their pressure tell though, and Huddersfield had opportunities again – Southern ought to have done better from a corner Forest should’ve cleared, side-footing over from fairly close range.

Just as it seemed we’d lost our momentum we broke the deadlock – and it was a nice goal, too.  Adlene Guedioura cut in from the right and played the ball through to Lewis McGugan who had burst forward.  The midfielder could have probably taken on a shot himself but had the presence of mind to spot Simon Cox’s run into the area and slot the perfect pass for him to receive the ball and put it past Smithies to give us what I think was a well deserved lead.

It’s always nice when you score at the away end too, isn’t it?  Cox was clearly delighted to open his Forest account, running behind the goal and taking a bow to the celebrating Forest supporters and accepting the congratulations of his teammates.

The home side deflated and Forest continued to press without creating too many direct chances – and as both sides started to introduce substitutes I can’t help but wonder if O’Driscoll might have disrupted our shape a little too much.  Dex, McGugan and Cox made way for Tuds, Moussi and Hutchinson respectively in three separate substitutions with Moose in particular not looking particularly fit or settled in to what he was doing.

Whilst the game on Friday might well have been top of mind as well as resting players who’d put a hard shift in (and Dex, Lewis and Cox had certainly done that), it did seem to coincide with a home side resurgence as the Reds started to sit deeper and allow the home side to press more.  With stoppage time really over Harding put in what looked – from the opposite end – to be a foolish challenge in the area.

Sure enough the linesman condemned us to a penalty with a flag across the chest, which the referee corroborated.  Jordan Rhodes – whom we’d kept quiet most of the game – stepped up and coolly slotted the penalty in off Lee Camp’s right hand post – Huddersfield’s first attempt on target and it was enough to get them a share of the points which obviously brought delirious celebrations from the home fans (of those that remained – a fair few had left!).

On the bus home I noted nice comments from Simon Grayson post match about us, and a fair few from Huddersfield fans on Twitter too, which is great.  Of course it’s gut-wrenching to have missed the chance to sit atop the Championship owing to a drop in concentration with less than a minute to go, but as somebody eruditely observed on the #nffc Twitter feed – I’d much rather see us be unlucky to drop two points in an away game than labour to defend one.

So on reflection I’m pleased – and looking forward to Friday’s trip up to Bolton to see if we can fare any better against Bolton Wanderers who this evening hosted Derby picked up their first points of the season with a win.  Another day, another challenge – undeniably we are still a work in progress for Sean O’Driscoll and his coaching team – but the progress he’s making is very pleasing to behold.  Keep up the good work!