Brighton and Hove Albion – 0
Nottingham Forest – 0
Apologies for this being so ludicrously late – it’s a busy time of year and a few unanticipated occurrences have happened. Nothing serious, just time-consuming. So anyway.. remember playing down at Brighton last weekend? Okay, must admit I’m struggling – the home fans might do better, particularly as it was the biggest crowd the AMEX has ever seen.
Sean made a few changes, Ayala returned from injury to line up alongside Collins in defence. There was a midfield shuffle with Moussi, Cohen and Guedioura introduced at the expense of McGugan, Gillett and Lansbury.
Hutton Ayala Collins Harding
Cohen Moussi Guedioura Reid
The first half was basically all about Brighton dominating, and struggling to make the best of the considerable number of opportunities they had. Early doors Calderon headed over unmarked from a corner, shortly after he clipped the post from the edge of the area after good work from Craig Mackail-Smith.
Former Reds loanee Will Hoskins looked set to convert a cross but under pressure from Collins put his effort wide. A rare foray forward for the Reds culminated in an Andy Reid shot which troubled little more than any seagulls flying overhead. Then again, gulls probably head inland at winter – so even they probably weren’t too worried.
It was a short-lived break for us though – Brighton were back on the assault, Bridge put an effort wide after Buckley had forged a chance for him (Buckley was making life incredibly difficult for poor Harding), whilst Mackail-Smith again was provider for Will Hoskins who really should’ve done better from close range but volleyed over.
Forest did have occasionally long range speculative efforts – but nothing particularly exciting, whilst the hosts continued to spurn much better close-range opportunities. Hoskins again missed the target this time with his head, nodding a decent cross from Crofts over. Forest’s best opportunity of the half came when Sharp teed up Reidy who lacked composure and put it over.
Mackail-Smith attacked our goal, bursting into the box and putting his shot past Camp, but just wide of the post. Minutes later the Reds keeper finally had his first proper save to make – Calderon shot and he tipped it over.
Despite barely being at the races in the first half we could’ve gone in to the break leading – a throughball from Reid down the left found Cohen who put in a low cross for Sharp who flicked the ball up and over the ‘keeper but agonisingly it rebounded off the bar. It would’ve been a massive injustice – but then, remember that other game we played in the AMEX where the boot was on the other foot?
At half time Sean removed Harding who’d had a torrid half against Buckley and replaced him with Halford – who certainly made his presence felt on the fixture from the off. He got forward and put a low cross in to Dex who put it wide with El-Abd puttin ghim under pressure – then got booked for letting Buckley know he wasn’t going to get quite such a simple second half.
From the free-kick the ball fell to Hoskins who again fluffed his lines from close range, volleying wide. Halford was perhaps lucky to remain on the pitch considering he’d already been booked, he took the winger out again then clashed off the ball with him – it was a bit of handbags, really – but it certainly got the home crowd going a bit – it also seemed to quieten down Buckley.
Guedioura was replaced by Lansbury after around an hour, as Forest seemed to be not only containing the home side better but were starting to offer more themselves. Lansbury latched on to a knock-down from Dex who’d been crossed to by Hutton, but his low drive didn’t give much challenge to Kuzczak in the Brighton goal.
As the rain turned from persistent to torrential the home side took off the wasteful Hoskins to replace him with Lua Lua. Forest were continuing to look better, one of those infuriating short corners almost came off with Reid tricking his way into the box to cross, but when it came to Ayala he wasn’t able to get it on target.
Dex headed wide from a Halford cross as Forest had a few turns at being wasteful, in the meantime Lua Lua escaped the attentions of Hutton and got an effort on target which Camp made a decent save on to get it wide. Better was to come when Buckley finally got the better of Halford, who’d slipped, putting the winger one-on-one with Camp who made a one-handed save.
Ayala made the final last-gap challenge to deny what looked like yet another gilt-edged chance. Our final change was to take off Reid for Gillett, but there was little else of note – and ultimately we should feel pleased to have got a point. Of course, we could’ve got more – but that would be greedy!
The other exciting news of note is that Fawaz is now the chairman rather than Omar – there’s lots of speculation about this elsewhere, I know nothing other than it has always seemed to be Fawaz who was driving the takeover so I welcome his further involvement. Whether the decision was linked to the reported financial trickies is unclear – although that just sounded like an administrative cock up to me anyway.
Oh, and a couple of big screens and irritating electronic scoreboards are being installed at the City Ground ready to be unveiled on Boxing Day. I must admit, neither of these excite me particularly – but if they enable the club to generate a bit more revenue then who am I to complain? Also if the screens distract the people who start moaning after 3 seconds of boredom then they could be a canny addition…