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
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!
Filed under: Matches |