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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!)

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