Forest awaken and sweep aside the Tykes..

He’s one of our own!

Barnsley – 1
Nottingham Forest – 4

We hardly ever win at Oakwell, and if you saw Sean O’Driscoll’s post-match interview and were unaware of the scoreline you’d think we hadn’t done particularly well here again.  Despite falling behind to a Marlon Harewood strike, even if you perused sports betting sites here you’d probably still find decent odds at us coming back. Come back we did, we were two goals clear by half time before Jermaine Jenas signed off his loan spell in style.

It was only a shame that Billy Sharp couldn’t convert one of his chances to get a goal on the weekend that would have been the first birthday of his son Luey.  But a very satisfying performance, and despite the cake being denied its’ cherry on the top, it was a delicious prospect nonetheless.  As for Sharp, he took on the Great South Run today to continue to raise funds and awareness for the foundation he and his partner set up in memory of Luey.  A real inspiration.

Back on to the game, just one change from the manager which was enforced.  Ayala’s injury gave Brendan Moloney the opportunity to return to the side at right back, with Halford moving into central defence to partner Collins.  New loanee Ward was named on the bench alongside Jenas and Blackstock, meaning we lined up a little something like this:

Camp
Moloney    Halford    Collins     Harding
Gillett
Cohen    Majewski    Reid
Sharp    Cox

There were quite a number of opportunities early doors in the game – Marlon Harewood was causing much mirth in the away end with a number of misses,  whilst when Reidy picked up on an error by Stones he perhaps should’ve provided the Tykes ‘keeper Alwick with a stiffer challenge.

Forest picked up a freekick from range, everyone expected Reid to strike it but it was Halford of all people who struck it powerfully but straight into the wall, however it broke for Cohen who unleashed a venomous shot that was also blocked, finally falling to Reid who put his effort just wide.  Reid turned provider with a pinpoint cross under the attentions of two defenders, and Billy Sharp – free in the box six yards out  – really should have opened the scoring for the afternoon.

It was the home side who struck first despite the tide of the game going against them – Marlon Harewood timed a run beyond Collins perfectly and was picked out well by Mellis, giving the former Reds man the opportunity to round Lee Camp and score in an empty net.  To his credit he pointedly didn’t celebrate despite the less than charitable reaction from the travelling Reds fans to his earlier misses.

The home side were clearly lifted and good work from Harding on the line with Matt Done looking to capitalise.  However, the Reds picked themselves up and in a frenetic final ten minutes of the half we had conspired to turn the game upon its’ head.

Our first goal came from a rather unlikely source, Halford cut in from and as he entered the area hit what can only be described as a hopeful shot with the outside of his right foot, a favourable deflection from Wiseman close to goal completely wrong-footed the ‘keeper and levelled the game for us and gave Greg his first goal for us.

Just a few minutes later Sharp was unfortunate not to convert an excellent ball in by the tireless Chris Cohen.   He did bring a decent save from Alnwick who was only able to parry the ball directly into the path of Simon Cox following up on the strike, and the former West Brom man was able to put it in to give us the lead.

So already happy with our progress it was a hammer blow to the home side on the stroke of half time, Reidy did well down the left but his pull-back into the box evaded Sharp – fortunate for us it fell for Cohen who unleashed a powerful strike from around the 25 yard mark to put us two goals to the good as the sides went in for the break.

We were looking eager to continue to put Barnsley to the sword in the second half too – Cox was proving a total nuisance, getting to the ball before Alwick and attempting an outlandish overhead kick from a tight angle.  It was considerably off-target but it was also literally a chance from nothing as I don’t think anyone expected him to get hold of the ball.

The home side made wholesale changes from the bench to try to change the game in their favour – and had opportunities.  As Kennedy shaped to float a freekick into the box he cunningly drilled it to the near post and Camp was alert enough to make a sprawling stop.  He also denied other sub Etuhu from close range.

Greg Halford picked up his fifth booking of the season – which sees him suspended now for the Millwall game.  Sharp again was wasteful after a cracking long ball from Harding and put him clear, the striker had a bit to do, but with two defenders bearing down on him was pressured into dragging his shot wide of the far post.

He might’ve got that elusive goal but for Alwick making the save from a Sharp header after a Reid corner, but it was Jenas who was to complete the scoring for the afternoon.  Cox tried to pick out Sharp with a throughball, it was blocked by the ball came back to the Irishman who slotted a throughball for Jenas instead, he raced clear down the right hand channel and lobbed Alnwick with a classy finish.

The celebration was quite emotional too – his Forest badge to his lips he raced infront of the visiting Reds fans who were on song proclaiming the midfielder as one of our own.  Which, of course, he is!  Rumour has it the loan will be extended, which is great – I’m sure he’d hoped for more game time in his time with us, but it’s great to have him on board and I hope he does extend the loan.

Ward replaced Halford just after, sensible move to give Ward some pitch-time with little at stake – and to make sure Halford didn’t pick up another booking – and shortly after Coppinger was introduced for the influential Reidy.  It was pretty much game over though and whilst there were occasional half-chances neither side looked like scoring again.

A very pleasing trip indeed which puts us into the playoff zone again – too early to be excited, of course, but it’s a nice psychological boost regardless – and a fitting end to what has been a very profitable October for the Reds, taking eleven of the fifteen points on offer.  It will be good to go into our game against Millwall in confident mood, they’re on a decent run themselves.

If you’ve not seen ’em yet, then the extended highlights are just here, which is a rather more satisfying watch than the blink-and-you’ll-miss-it coverage that the Football League Show deigns fit to allocate for us.

Advertisements

Barnsley vs. Forest preview..

“Young man! There’s no need to feel down!”

Ah, Barnsley.  That place we can never seem to get a win!  My first away trip to watch Forest in the league was to Oakwell, I think we lost 1-0 – my abiding memory of the day were the home fans singing the Hovis song to us interspersed with yells of ‘Scabs’.  I don’t think I’ve ever seen us get three points up there.

The only other thing of note I can think of was their club crest always inexplicably reminds me of The Village People.  I do think it could be greatly enhanced by the inclusion of a Red Indian Chief, a Motorbike Cop and a Cowboy.

Barnsley are 17th in the table, and on paper you’d fancy your chances on a trip to play them – but of course, we’ve got our record there to consider too.  With Ayala likely to miss out due to a hamstring injury our defence will be reshuffled – Hutchinson is still injured so it seems likely Moloney will come in and Halford will move to central defence.

Sean O’Driscoll did hint at the possibility of loaning in another defender to try to cover the lack of numbers at the back, although he’ll need to get a wriggle on to do so in time for the match.  Adlene Guedioura is unavailable in midfield as he completes his latest suspension.  The home side are looking short on firepower up front – Craig Davies is injured and Mido is unfit, and manager Keith Hill is hoping to bolster his strikeforce before the game with a signing.

Forest are unbeaten in a few games now – four to be precise.  In our last six we’ve won two, drawn two and lost the latter two.   Barnsley are unbeaten in their last two games but did taste defeat in both games before that.  Their last game at home was a decent point against Palace on Tuesday night – their home game prior to that saw them lose to struggling Peterborough.

The biggest stumbling block for this game for us might be the man in the middle – remember Kevin Friend anyone?  I was wondering why his name was lodged in my mind – he once disallowed a perfectly good Earnie goal for us against, of all people, Barnsley at Oakwell – but the main cause of consternation was his part in that horrific trip to Oldham where we lost 5-0.  Admittedly he wasn’t to blame for how awful we were – but he did send off Sammy Clingan for no reason at all!

Not that I hold a grudge or anything, you understand.

On paper, definitely winnable.  In practice?  Well it’s always more complicated than that isn’t it?  I’m hoping as ever for us to approach the game positively and play to our strengths which seems to be the case more often now we’re building a decent run of results and the resultant confidence that goes with that, but the Tykes are going to prove awkward opponents nonetheless.

Blackstock’s late leveller nets Forest a deserved point..

Dex celebrates scoring the last goal to be updated on Ceefax!

Blackpool – 2
Nottingham Forest – 2

Bloomfield Road rarely seems to be a happy hunting ground for us, nonetheless over 1,200 Reds braved the trip on a Tuesday night and were rewarded with a spirited performance and the magic of a late equaliser – one of those things few things better, aside from a late winner of course, in terms of match-day experiences!

For those of us who couldn’t juggle the time off to make the trip, a nostalgic evening of listening to Martin Fisher commentate on the Reds again, deputising for Colin Fray.  If you fancy an even more nostalgia-driven factoid – with Ceefax being switched off last night, Dexter Blackstock’s late leveller goes down in the history books as the last goal to feature on the archaic bringer of goal news thanks to the slightly later kick off time for our game.

With Guedioura suspended following his red card against Cardiff, Sean brought in Majewski in a straight replacement, with Jermaine Jenas taking his place on the bench – so quite a straight forward arrangement really!

Camp
Halford   Ayala    Collins    Harding
Cohen    Gillett   Majewski    Reid
Sharp   Cox

The home side had the first opportunity of note, Crainey burst into the box down the left channel playing a neat exchange with Thomas Ince.  Camp rushed out to meet him, but was beaten by a calmly finished effort which struck the post to give us a shot across the bow, as it were.

At the other end some nice play between Cohen and Sharp ended with Cohen running on to a pass in the area, the midfielder went down in the box whilst close to former Reds loanee Isiah Osbourne, but I’m not entirely convinced the shouts for a penalty were particularly convincing – even if it has been more than a year since we’ve had one!

Cox spurned a great opportunity with a rash volley off target when he had the time and space to compose himself a little better.

Forest were starting to pick up though, Sharp burst into the box and hit a decent shot which Gilks sprawled to save whilst a defender conceded a corner.  From this Reid picked out Cohen on the edge of the area, his shot was blocked but the ball came back to him to nod back into the six yard area where Billy Sharp was lurking to flick the ball over Gilks and into the net.

The resulting celebration is probably something that will go down in folklore – the striker ran to the Forest fans holding his LJS Foundation wristband aloft, before promptly taking a hot dog from one of the Forest fans and taking a bite from the end of it!  Classic!

So, as on Saturday – donations in to Goals for LJS please, if you’re participating!

Ayala picked up a knock which saw him substituted for Brendan Moloney – the Irishman took up the right back spot whilst Halford moved to the centre of defence alongside Collins.  Brendan almost immediately had an awesome impact, clipping a cracking lobbed throughball to find the run of Billy Sharp, who got a shot away but it deflected off-target.

At the start of the second half you could feel the frustration Reid must’ve felt whilst on loan at Blackpool come out in the form of a venomous free-kick.  Whilst John McGovern bullishly stated the kick was too far out to shoot from, Reidy lined it up and struck a powerful effort just wide of the post – so I guess the former skipper was probably right, but it was a decent hit!

Even after Holloways customary ‘throw caution to the wind’ when behind tactic the Reds looked pretty comfortable containing the home side – but conceded the equaliser and went behind in quick succession thanks to some fairly poor lapses in concentration.  A great cross from deep by Matty Phillips was met by Grandin in the box to level from close range.

The next goal was worse, Forest didn’t get a decent challenge in despite several opportunities to clear their lines, the ball eventually falling to Taylor-Fletcher in the box to put the ball in the net with a not particularly powerful, but well-placed, shot from inside the area.  To have gone from winning and comfortable to losing is always a frustration.

Having seen Holloway’s mix-up of personnel draw benefits, O’Driscoll introduced Jenas and Blackstock for Majewski and Gillett respectively to try to fashion us an opportunity to get back in the game.  It nearly paid dividends when a cracking flick-on from Dex put Billy Sharp through but the striker put his effort off target.

We did have the last laugh though, Reid somehow managed to dig out a right-footed cross under the attentions of a number of Blackpool players, the ball eventually fell to Blackstock who took a calm touch before planting the ball into the net whilst the Blackpool defence seemed to be hoping for an offside decision.

A cracking result, and great to see the Reds not letting their heads drop when falling behind.  Of course, the defensive lapses and indecision are food for thought on the training ground, but to have taken four points from the visit of Cardiff and a trip to Blackpool is very decent indeed – with a forthcoming trip to (we never win at) Barnsley coming up this weekend it’s great we’re heading up to Yorkshire in a positive mood.

Blackpool vs. Forest preview..

Blackpool and Forest are pretty close in the league now, but the Tangerines are falling from on high after a blistering start to the season, Forest are climbing back upward after a somewhat indifferent beginning.  The home side are looking incredibly vulnerable at the back right now, so Forest should certainly approach this game positively.

For us it’s an opportunity to register three wins on the bounce, which would be very welcome indeed!  As well as injuries and poor form there is speculation that Ian Holloway is wanted by the Venkys at Blackburn which can only help to upset the applecart.

Just as we’re able to bring back one man from suspension, in the shape of striker Dexter Blackstock, we lose another – Guedioura has earned a two-game suspension for receiving his second red card of the season, after picking up two bookings against Cardiff at the weekend.  Whilst the first booking was harsh, the second wasn’t – and he should’ve thought before diving in.

Having had more opportunity to train it is likely that Jermaine Jenas will return to the squad, and Guedioura’s omission gives an opportunity for Lewis McGugan to re-stake a claim in the side, or Raddy Majewski to claim a starting place having been effective from the bench at the weekend with a neat assist for Sharp’s goal.  Lansbury and and Hutchinson remain unlikely to feature.

Reidy is likely to want to bank some happier memories of Bloomfield Road having had an ill-fated loan there back in 2011.  He only made five appearances for the doomed then-Premier League side and isn’t remembered with much affection by their fans, I imagine something he reciprocates in kind!

Depending on who you believe, Blackpool either have a full squad to pick from (official Forest preview), or are ‘down to the bare bones’ (the Blackpool Gazette).  Perhaps the real story lies somewhere between the two?

Former Notts County man Thomas Ince has been the one to watch for Blackpool this season, with a great run of goals earlier in the season – and the similarly dangerous Matty Phillips – certainly we shouldn’t let their recent run of form allow us to be complacent, they’re a dangerous side that will undoubtedly create chances and make life difficult for our defence.

Irrespective of their recent downward trajectory, this game will be a challenge – I know I am cultivating a bit of a habit of being a bit doom-and-gloomy, but maybe that’s my nature!  If Blackpool do play their natural open passing game then this will potentially be good for us, as we are building confidence in playing our way.

It’s always worth considering the bookies on this one – a successful £10 bet on Blackpool winning with Paddypower you’d get £11 back, on Forest you’d get £25 – a draw would net you £22.50.  Based on that you’d have to say that any point(s) from this fixture would be rather good, or that Paddypower are being bloody stingy!

I’d be happy with a point, though.

Oh, the kick off time has moved from 7:45pm to 8:00pm too – which probably doesn’t make any material difference to those of us travelling up, to be fair!

Reds knock Cardiff off top spot..

Sharp-shooter – Billy holds his LJS Foundation wristband aloft having opened his Forest account

Nottingham Forest – 3
Cardiff City – 1

Well, so much for my doom and glooming in the match preview – Forest comfortably cruised past the league leaders with a solid win marred only by Adlene Guedioura picking up a second yellow in the second half, really.  A very encouraging performance by the Reds against the, erm Reds.

Malky Mackay’s side didn’t really live up to their billing at all, lining up with a lone striker and attempting to fill the midfield much like we’ve seen from other teams in recent home games.  This time we seemed to be able to find a way through this kind of tactic.  The visiting fans too much quieter than we’ve become accustomed to when Cardiff visit.

Sean opted to drop McGugan and replace him with Guedioura who of course was just back from suspension.  Lewis dropped to the bench, where there was no place for Jermaine Jenas who hasn’t had sufficient training time having come back from a back injury.

Camp
Halford    Ayala    Collins    Harding
Gillett
Guedioura    Cohen    Reid
Sharp   Cox

The first opportunity of the game fell to the visitors, a decent cross from Conway was met by Cowie but he didn’t get his header on target.  It was a mostly lacklustre start to the game, with nothing really clear-cut for either side until Cox was felled on the edge of the area.  Reidy stepped up and clipped a deliciously placed free-kick against the underside of the bar and in.

We were still celebrating it seemed when a cross came in from the right from Halford and was met by the leap of Daniel Ayala, who was still in the area from one of Greg Halford’s long throws which hadn’t been particularly well cleared.  So within the space of a couple of minutes we’d gone from a fairly lacklustre game to two nil up against the league leaders.

The first half nearly ended with a flourish for the Reds too, Billy Sharp was agonisingly close to breaking his Forest duck with a header from a Chris Cohen freekick, but the effort was deflected for a corner.  Half time arrived, and we were two goals to the good with a very confident performance, which was of course very pleasing indeed!

If Billy Sharp was letting his ongoing goal drought eat away at him, it didn’t show.  The first act of business though was the withdrawal of Cox (arf) for Majewski, I’m presuming because the striker had picked up yet another booking rather than for any other reason.  A minute after that Sharp played a lovely one-two with the substitute and burst into the box, scoring from a tight angle to open his Reds account.

So, those of you participating in the Goals for the LJS Foundation initiative set up by a Forest fan, it’s time to put your money where your mouth is!  Hopefully this is the first of many opportunities to donate (indeed, there’s nowt wrong with donating full stop – it’s a great cause!)

Cardiff did start to wake up somewhat, an excellent cross from Noone should have given Tommy Smith a goal but he conspired to put his header wide of the target.  Camp was having a good game in the Reds goal, claiming crosses and making saves when needed – however, there was little he could do with the ball looped in to Helguson who, under challenge from Collins, did well to flick the ball goalward with the outside of his foot to give the visitors a lifeline.

This certainly energised them, and saw perhaps their best spell of the game – Smith was unlucky with low effort that struck the post – in the aftermath of this Noone had two bites of the cherry, the first blocked by Ayala’s face, the second saved well by Camp.  At the other end Cohen had a decent effort which was stopped on the line by Hudson.

The cloud for the silver-lining of the afternoon came when Guedioura was booked for a late challenge, probably the right decision, but galling considering his first booking was for a dive when he was pretty clearly shoved by a Cardiff player.  That said, he shouldn’t have made such a challenge when already on a yellow card.  An inconsistent performance from the referee – there’s a change, eh?

Cardiff definitely finished the stronger now with a man advantage, but rarely managed to dominate us – that said, the remaining chances of note were certainly created by the visitors, Camp had good saves to make from Noone and Gestede – the Reds keeper certainly on top of his game again and looking confident again, which is great to see.

Full time and a deserved win against a good side – no Forest player stood out head and shoulders above the others in terms of man of the match, Reid got the sponsors award, and he had a fine game, but I’d probably choose one of Camp, Collins, Ayala, Halford or Gillet.  Harding too had an excellent game after a tricky start as a Forest player, but the bottom line is it was an excellent team performance where everybody contributed solidly to make a decent Cardiff side look very ordinary.

Whilst I do think we seem to be picking up more cards than we should – this game saw Cardiff commit more fouls than us, yet us get more cards, which is odd, there is something for the Reds to work on.  Whilst Halford was fouled (not given) just before he petulantly booted the ball into the stand, he still petulantly booted the ball into the stand – it was unnecessary, and Cox has clearly made a bit of a reputation for himself for needling referees.

One thing I’d like to see the manager working on would be discipline from the players like we used to have in Clough’s time here – there’s no benefit in haranguing an official, indeed, as John McGovern recounted the other week in The Approach, Clough used to say that the referee would probably make fewer mistakes in 90 minutes than any player, so why should the player rebuke the official?  The fans will give the referee sufficient feedback, after all.

A very good afternoon’s entertainment, a cracking performance – well done to Sean and the boys.  The goals are below for those of you who haven’t seen them yet (whilst they last!)

Forest vs. Cardiff City preview..

Apologies for the radio silence – unforeseen circumstances, hopefully resolved now.  Anyway, we played Peterborough away and won thanks to a superb Andy Reid goal – but still we’re finding goals hard to come by, I’d love to see us score a tap in or three!

This weekend we welcome the league leaders to the City Ground.  Cardiff City are rebranded this year as, erm, the Redbirds presumably this year on the whim of their Malaysian owners – although with this obviously clashing with our colours we’ll see them in their more familiar blue strip on Saturday.  Whatever colour they are in, they represent a significant challenge.

Malky Mackay’s side are top of the pile, a point clear and have won their last three games.

Our internationals have had no problems upon their return, whilst Lansbury, Jenas and Hutchinson have taken part in light training but remain doubts for the game.  Tuds is back in full training following his hernia operation but again, will be a doubt.  Dex is serving the last game of his suspension for his ridiculous red card.

As for them, Bellamy faces a late fitness test as he recovers from a knee injury, whilst recent injury victims Mutch and Smith will be available to travel.

Recent form and strength might seem to favour the visitors – indeed, looking at our historical record against the Welsh side would suggest they have something of a hoodoo over us – they’ve beaten us 21 times over the years to our 13 times over them.  So you could say we owe them one!

I suppose the international break came at a less than ideal time for both sides in terms of momentum – but with suspensions making our injuries all the more frustrating, it might just have benefited us more.  That said, it’s hard to not look at Cardiff’s squad list and not find it a pretty daunting prospect, and that’s not to disparage our own lads.

Hopefully we should see a game set up for some football, which will be the first time in a while.  We’ve responded fairly bleakly to more agricultural visitors to the City Ground of late, so I’m hoping to see a side try to come and match football with football more and give us the opportunity to hopefully start getting back to what we’re good at.  Still struggling to predict a win for us, though.  Tough game.

Everything but the goal..

The moment that should have won us the game..

Nottingham Forest – 0
Blackburn Rovers – 0

This is the third time I’ve used this headline – but it fits so well.  I’m sorry, it’s late.

Well, when I predicted a stern test from one of the likely ‘there or thereabouts’ teams come the end of the season I couldn’t have been more wrong, could I?  It turns out that Blackburn came and offered very little threat to the Reds who dominated the game but were unable to create enough tangible efforts on goal.  Those efforts we did have were spurned.

However, it’s funny how 90 minutes changes your perspective isn’t it?  At kick off I might have been tempted to take a draw if offered – but certainly I’m sure the gaffer and the players, like me, will feel disappointed not to have snagged all three points against a particularly unambitious visiting side.

With suspensions playing havoc with our attacking line it wasn’t too surprising to see Sharp up top on his own, with Lansbury earning a start in midfield, leaving space on the bench for Jermaine Jenas to eventually get the chance to make his second debut for the Reds.

Camp
Halford   Ayala   Collins   Harding
Gillett
Cohen    McGugan    Lansbury   Reid
Sharp

It was sort of like that.  Kinda.  You know what our midfielders are like, they’re all over the place!  Having been made to swap ends, Forest started brightly, an early corner evaded Ayala and Cohen early doors.  McGugan crossed from the right to Sharp, but he couldn’t muster any power for this shot which ended up an easy save.

The visitors had their moments too, a shot from outside the area from Hanley needed dealing with by Camp but it was a routine stop.  But really it was a fairly pensive half of little chances – Blackburn pressed really far forward to try to stop us playing from the back, we just as stubbornly carried on trying to do so, which was risky.

As the half drew to a close we had a bit of a pinball session with a number of efforts flying in towards the Blackburn goal, but ultimately after a combination of saves and blocks we ended up with the ball in the Trent End after a particularly ambitious volley from McGugan.  So half time and to be honest, it hadn’t been the most gripping of halves – but we’d certainly more than matched our opponents, which was good!

The first action of the second saw Reid fire just over after a corner hadn’t been cleared particularly well, and we resumed the battle of wills to try to break one another down – with Blackburn increasingly content to allow the Reds possession in their own half.

On a rare foray forward Jordan Rhodes tried to buy a penalty with an unconvincing collapse whilst stood near Chris Cohen.  Fortunately the referee – who had been ridiculously lenient all game – didn’t give the spot kick.  He also didn’t book Rhodes for the dive (in fact, he didn’t book anyone all game).

Lansbury had had a few wayward moments after some nice touches in the first half, but showed a moment of real class when he controlled the ball whilst taking it round his man to give him space to shoot in the area.  His left footed strike was decent enough but saved well by Robinson in the visitors’ goal.

It was Lansbury who was withdrawn shortly after for Majewski who was immediately eagerly bustling around the place.  He made a lovely jinking run along the bye-line, tricking his way past Olsson before putting a dangerous ball right into the six-yard box, sadly no Red shirts were close enough and Orr was able to get it clear.

The real chance of the game though came to Billy Sharp.  A lovely clipped ball from Reidy found the striker in the channel, he did everything right with his first touch to control the ball and tee himself up with a chance to shoot from close range and… missed and hit the side-netting!  Gutted doesn’t come close!  It was just the kind of chance you’d expect him to score.

I’m sure he’s thinking that himself, too.  There’s not much point in labouring the point!

Jenas was introduced with just over seventy minutes gone to replace Lewis, he had a few nice touches but sat quite deep for the most part.  Blackburn by this point had all but given up trying to get forward as the Reds enjoyed a lot of possession whilst trying to find a way through the away side.

Coppinger was the final change near the end for Reid, but despite enjoying possession and territory we weren’t really able to mount anything approximating a decent chance in the closing stages, which was a little frustrating.  Definitely a game where we could and ought to have done better and given Robinson to do.

Though as Robin Chipperfield pointed out on the radio on the way home, had Sharp bagged his chance (or Lansbury, for that matter), the tone of this report would be very different and we’d be celebrating a decent performance and three points.  It was still a decent performance – and it’s good to be able to say that having looked like we were on somewhat of a downward trajectory in recent games.

Oh, should show some respect for the Rovers defender who got up after being full on booted in the face (accidentally, I might add!) by Ayala in a penalty area scramble following a corner.  It looked nasty from where I was sat so I was glad to see he was okay following the incident!