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:
Moloney Halford Collins Harding
Cohen Majewski Reid
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.
Filed under: Matches |