Dex gets Forest out of jail..

Dur Dur Dur Dur! Dexter Blackstock!

Crystal Palace – 1
Nottingham Forest – 1

As 1,800 or so hardy trickies make their way from Selhurst Park I feel a bit guilty sat in my warm living room cobbling together what I remember from Colin Fray’s commentary as well as pinching bits from the official website match report. Certainly the travelling reds weren’t treated to a feast of football from the Reds in probably our least effective performance of the season.

With any luck a late equaliser from substitute Dexter Blackstock after we’d been reduced to ten men in the second half might just have warmed their collective cockles enough for the long journey home. Because let’s face it, even if you live in bloody London it’s a long journey home from an away game against Crystal Palace!

Sean opted to start out with the 3-5-2 / 5-3-2 hybrid formation that seemed to help us get back into the game against Birmingham City at the weekend, giving us a starting line-up that looked a bit like this:

Halford Ayala Collins
Hutchinson Harding
McGugan Gillett Reid
Sharp Cox

Palace, on the back of a local derby win over Charlton, started the brighter – after only nine minutes Wilfried Zaha was able to find plenty of room to cross from the right, finding Glenn Murray who saw his header end up striking the post. Lee Camp was required to deny the home side goals, too – Williams robbed Hutchinson of possession and brought a save from the Forest ‘keeper.

The home side continued to press, eventual goalscorer Dikgacoi struck a rasping shot just over from the edge of the area. Lee Camp was on hand twice more before the half time whistle – Jedinak had a pop from range, and after Ayala had lost possession on the edge of the area the Forest ‘keeper was alert enough to deny Murray to spare the Spanish defenders’ blushes.

To start the tale of two substitutes, an injury to Hutchinson meant that Guedioura was introduced from the bench with around five minutes remaining. The Reds had weathered the home storm for the first 45 minutes and offered little going forward themselves. Clearly an opportunity for SO’D to get the lads firing, I imagine Dougie Freedman would’ve loved an extra five or ten minutes of first half.

As it transpired, the momentum carried on with the home side into the second half – just five minutes gone and Dikgacoi met a corner from Williams and put a looping header beyond Lee Camp to give Palace a lead their possession and chances undoubtedly deserved. Forest started to awaken, McGugan created some space for himself on the edge of the area but his shot was charged down.

Guedioura picked up a booking for a foul after 55 minutes, then was foolish enough to kick out at Jedinak after the referee had given a dubious freekick against Reid. A silly action giving the referee no choice – the Algerian midfielder has already apologised to his teammates and fans alike via the medium of Twitter. Hopefully this gives him a bit of thinking time, because he’s come close to losing his head a few times already this season.

Sean O’Driscoll introduced Dexter on 73 minutes at the expense of Sharp – who hadn’t really enjoyed much service, and on 79 minutes replaced Lewis McGugan with Majewski. It seemed that the manager’s bench-based alchemy was to bear fruit again – Simon Cox turned well on the edge of the area and got the ball to Blackstock who beat Speroni with a cool finish.

Dex gets the headlines, but Coxy carries on his record of either scoring or assisting in every game he’s played for us – long may THAT stat continue!

We could’ve nicked a ridiculously undeserved win, too – Halford took a long throw into the six yard box which was met by the head of Blackstock, and saved brilliantly by Speroni. At the other end Camp made a brilliant save from a point-blank header from Peter Ramage, leaving both sides to be content with a draw – I imagine we will feel rather happier with the point than Palace will!

So Sean said we got out of jail, it’s hard to argue with it – and whilst it’s a bit concerning that we put in such a lacklustre shift for most of the game, it’s rather heartening to see another demonstration of resilience from the Reds who are able to continue to boast an unbeaten league record – somehow! Under the circumstances it’s a cracking point for us, dropping to ten men when already a goal down.

Leeds away up next – they lost 3-2 at home to Hull City tonight, so they’ll be pissed off anyway without even mentioning what happened when Forest went to Elland Road last season – but we don’t want to mention that, do we?

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