Millwall 2-0 Nottingham Forest ~ Match Report
by, 14-08-2011 at 01:22 PM (4550 Views)
Well, after me an Mrs B’s little sojourn down to Devon during the week (what a happy coincidence that Millwall were playing Plymouth in the cup this week as well…oh and kudos to Marshy and Jackpot who we saw down there) we leave our cup heroics on the side (Morecombe at home in the next round, shame it wasn’t away) and concentrate on the visit of erstwhile football league champions and European cup winners, Nottingham Forest.
But first, we paid a pilgrimage to Arments to see (and taste) first hand, what the damage was after the reports that rioting savages had wrecked the place in search of an alternative to fried chicken but reports of its death were, to coin a phrase, greatly exaggerated as we found all the windows boarded up but a welcoming sign saying “open as usual”. Bliss…
So with a smile on our dials and a warm glow in our bellies we made our way down to the Den to see if the Lions could build on the productive start they had made at Reading. It is fair to say that a majority of Lions fans, me included, are not expecting anything remotely like a promotion push this season but deep down, are secretly longing for one.
Forest are down as one of the pace setters this season, front-runners, a team of potential but with Schteve “the brolly” McLaren at their helm, one wonders if the pundits might be slightly off beam with their predictions?
Forest, over the years have usually rolled up full of pomp and ceremony and their fans do travel in numbers (usually 2043, if legends are to be believed) but the meagre smattering of just over a thousand who showed up for this game slipped in quietly and stayed that way for the rest of the game.
To say that they were a pale shadow of their former self is doing a disservice to pale shadows. OK, I don’t expect away fans to be as animated as an octopus with an itchy arse but if you travel to watch your team play at least let them know you are there?
Perhaps they were too busy worrying about getting home after the game, as uncle byefernow Les kept reminding them that cowards walk was not an option as there weren’t many trains running from South Bermondsey…?
But enough of them and their fan issues we had a healthy 11 thousand odd fans in place and we were having no trouble making some noise. It got a little bit too boisterous up where we were as to chaps, old enough to know better, started trading punches over who had whose seat (probably) but after each protagonist had landed at least one punch on the others mush it all calmed down and we were all friends again.
On to the football now and Mr Jackett picked a completely different team from the Plymouth game, naturally, and they lined up as follows:
Forde, Dunne, Ward, Robbo, Craig, Bouazza, Mkandawire, Trotter, Henry, Marquis & Henderson.
So that was the same line up as Reading, Mr Jackett more than happy to go with the same formula and as referee Scott got us under way the lads quickly switched into gear forcing Forest to defend as we attacked them with some quick pass and movement stuff. Bouazza clipped in a clinical ball from a free kick after about three minutes off Millwall pressure and Robbo’s effort was unceremoniously hacked away for the first of a number of corners for the lively Lions.
After about another three or four minutes we had our next corner which was whipped over by Henry to Henderson who somehow hooked the ball into the back of the net to a cacophony of noise as we celebrated the opening goal. 1-0 as the big man had made it 2 in 2 games!
To be honest I thought it was an own goal but who am I to deny our new front man his glory!
We clearly had our tails up and we were unlucky not to get a second as Marquis collected a wayward ball on the right and crossed the ball past the stricken ‘keeper only for Chambers to hoof it away before we could get someone on the end of it.
We then had the only time Forest fans made something resembling noise when fatty Reid hit a shot from distance into the side netting and some of the visitors thought it had gone in.
It was all Millwall after this, Bouazza and Henry mixing it up, the former crossing for the latter only for ‘keeper Camp to pluck the ball out of the air just as Henry was setting his sights on it and then Henry set up Henderson who was robbed of the ball as he prepared to shoot for what looked like a certain second goal.
We had the usual Forde fuckabout when he tried to shepherd the ball out of play only for their man to nick it off him and cross it into the box with the Irish international stranded in no mans land but quick defending turned this into nothing more than a corner kick.
Henderson headed wide from another telling cross by Henry and then Henry himself took on an ambitious volley that threatened the ball boys rather than the goal but it all added to a very accomplished first half performance by a dominant Lions side clearly playing at a level slightly above their “illustrious” opponents.
It goes without saying that Referee Scott was clearly not interested in giving us any help as a series of obvious fouls went unpunished but we have come to expect this now so no point in griping about it.
The half ended with us in the ascendancy and the appreciative home crowd sent the boys off to a well deserved round of applause.
We had some strangely captivating half time entertainment as kids from Millwall and Forest performed a sort of ad hoc relay race around the pitch that was enjoyed by all who witnessed it.
The second half saw a more cautious approach by the Lions, as we were quite prepared to offer the visitors a chance to use the ball but our midfield and defence were superb and although Forest had a lot of the ball they didn’t have a clue what to do with it.
They were holding the ball well enough in their own half and we just sat there waiting for them to do something but all they did was eventually work the ball into our half whereby we just took it off them. It looked for all intents and purposes like we were deliberately trying it on with them to see what they had got to offer.
We finally dropped this tactic when they did breach our superb defences and managed to scrape the outside of the post with a deflected ball from Findley so Mr Jackett decided to shake things up and he took off Henderson and replaced him with new loan signing N’Guessen.
Marquis was replaced with Abdou some five minutes later and these changes worked perfectly. Forest were suddenly all over the place as I think they honestly thought they were in with a chance…trust me…they weren’t.
Another amazing string to our bow is that we have two players who can, at last, hit free kicks from distance with real menace and Bouazza’s effort stung the hands of Camp who spilled the ferocious 35 yard effort out of his hands before diving on the loose ball.
N’Guessen was very impressive as an impact sub and he was causing them all sorts of problems and when he picked the ball up on the half way line with about fifteen minutes left he deftly turned and sped menacingly down the right flank. He easily out stripped his marker and fired over a telling cross that found the grateful Liam Trotter waiting to side foot the ball into the net. 2-0!! Thank you and goodnight! There was no feeling of a Reading mark II here; it was clear we were far too good for them and they were dead and buried.
Trotter had a one on one that should have sealed the deal but Camp stopped it well enough but when N’Guessen repeated his trick and crossed for Tam Mkandawire it must have been harder to miss but we watched in disbelief as the ball hit the post and went out for a goal kick.
Henry fired a free kick just over the bar and we finished the game clearly on top and the beleaguered figures in red were just pining for the final whistle has they had been well and truly beaten.
So, a great start to the season and no time to dwell as we face Peterborough this coming Wednesday at the Den for what should be an intriguing encounter.