Nottingham Forest – 1
Bristol City – 0
Well, it nearly rhymes…! And it’s late and I can’t think of anything better!
It was good to wake up this morning – t-shirt and shorts weather, and a trip to the City Ground to contemplate for our season opener against Bristol City. The pitch was looking stunning, the fans were in buoyant mood, and the stewards were fresh from their summer finishing schools and doing their best to quell too much over-exuberance.
A decent sized but quiet following from Bristol City made up the numbers in the ground, Forest fans wearing Arabic attire in slightly clumsy tribute to our new owners added to the atmosphere – particularly a line of around a dozen of them timing their entry to the ground late, marching in line down the front of the Main Stand to take their seats in B Block near a Kuwaiti flag being displayed by other supporters.
Kick off was delayed for reasons unrevealed, beforehand we’d been ‘treated’ to what I am sure was a very talented opera singer who was absolutely murdered by the awful public address system at Forest. A pity really, but finally the teams were out and the game finally kicked off. Sean O’Driscoll opted for a kind of 4-2-3-1 / 4-5-1 formation that looked something like this:
Moloney Halford Collins Harding
Majewski McGugan Reid
The midfield was pretty fluid though – McGugan dropped deep quite frequently whilst Gillett and Guedioura did push forward too. The other observation is – and I’d be interested to see if anyone agrees, is that I think that the pitch has had a yard or so taken from the width of it down the Brian Clough stand side. Makes sense really given our lack of wingers!
Whilst the first half was largely something that will be consigned to non-memory, Forest did have quite a bit of possession. The chances we had weren’t clear though, a Majewski cross found Blackstock who hit the side-netting – it was the Polish midfielder who had perhaps our best moment of the first half, hitting a half-volley left footed on the turn which was dipping – but not quite enough – to drop under Tom Heaton’s bar.
Dex should’ve perhaps done better at the far post from a right-footed Reidy cross from the left – at the time I thought he’d been dragged down by a defender, but on seeing the highlights it appears he simply lost his footing and put his header off target. Disappointing for the hard-working striker, but these things happen!
The atmosphere heated up somewhat thanks to former Forest loanee Greg Cunningham. After Guedioura appeared to have been elbowed in the face the referee ignored the incident, but stopped the play for the head injury. Cunningham feigned to kick the ball back but instead tried to start off a City attack – he was unceremoniously fouled and then confronted by Reidy.
A very unsporting way to go about things – something I don’t like to see at all. The referee ended up booking both Cunningham and Reid for their confrontation. We rode our luck somewhat in the area, City player Fontaine took a tumble in the area under the attentions of Collins who appeared to handle the ball too.
Half time brought more screechy warbling from the singing lady courtesy of the dreadful PA system, and a chance to catch up with the assorted folks who you really only see in the context of Forest. First game back when you’ve been sitting in the same place for a few years is very reminiscent of returning to school after the summer holidays for me, it’s great to catch up with folks!
The second half saw the visitors causing us problems – Fontaine put a header just wide from a freekick played in by Cunningham, who was now being roundly booed by Forest fans each time he got the ball. Moloney was really growing into the game, and getting forward the right-back got himself an opportunity to unleash a decent left-footed drive that curled wide, but was close enough to at least have Heaton diving.
Simon Cox was introduced from the bench for McGugan after 68 minutes. Lewis had had a hard-working game, and just picked up a bit of a knock. Cox was immediately in the action winning a challenge in midfield, and seemingly moments later was played right in the area by Reidy, cutting the ball back precisely for Adlene Guedioura to calmly stroke the ball into the Trent End goal.
Both Cox and Blackstock came close to doubling the lead, whilst we made late changes introducing Lascelles and Greening for Majewski and Reid to take up some time. Anderson had been introduced earlier for City and received a mostly warm reception from Reds fans, that might’ve changed after he did well to control a deep cross and put the ball right across the goal. Fortunately for us no City players were gambling, and it ran to safety.
All in all, a great result and a decent performance. Apparently it’s our first opening day win in six years (!). There were positive signs and our approach to the game were great, minimal hoofing, plenty of passing – patient building from the back (this was the first time I’d seen Gillett in action, and I do think we’ve missed that combative midfielder role), and, well – most importantly – three points!
There’s plenty of areas that I’d like to see improve, of course – I don’t think we created enough clear cut opportunities really – and those we did make weren’t always best used. But it’s early doors in a season of transition with less than ideal preparations so to pick up a result under these circumstances is very good indeed.
McInnes whinging like a mardy bastard about the referee seems odd – for a start, his description of the Reid/Cunningham incident doesn’t match what happened, and whilst the he might have a point about the penalty, the referee missed plenty of similar claims for Forest too. These things balance out. So he should just take his medicine really and quite moaning, and to defend such unsporting conduct from Cunningham in the first place is shameful. He’s right that it was a close game though, and either side could have nicked it.
But I am very pleased – and a trip to Huddersfield to face Simon Grayson’s Terriers to look forward to on Tuesday, it’s good to have the season back underway and a positive start. Well done Sean and the boys – onwards and upwards! Yoooooou Reds!
Filed under: Matches |