Nottingham Forest 3-1 Millwall ~ Match Report

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Off on our travels again as me and MrsB, joined by Del & Lin, strapped ourselves in the Bonemobile and headed northwards to Robin Hood country to see if the Lions could build on the away win in mid-week at Peterborough.

It was not without its problems, the drive up there, as we got embroiled in the road closure of the A14 and at one point we feared we would miss the kick off, but, we finally got free of the convoy of doom and managed to get to the ground with about 30 minutes to spare.

The friendly stewards then told me that the away car park was full and that I couldn’t park at the ground. I pointed out that there was ample parking for the home fans and he told me we were not allowed to park there. I waived the ten pound note under his nose and told him not to be so daft and he duly shrugged his shoulders, took the money and we were in, albeit in the home bit of the car park.

The City ground is slowly falling apart at the seams, history, I am afraid, is no excuse for not carrying out planned maintenance and the paint is peeling, the hot water is running cold and the lamps need changing, but hey ho, they won the European cup twice dontcha know…

The meat and tater pies were alright though, no complaints there and as we went into the actual seating area it was good to note that the stupid ‘you must sit in your designated seat’ nonsense had been waived, and rightly so.
We settled down and clocked the team line up. Mr Jackett, it seems, is not a believer in the old “do not change a winning team” adage and promptly dropped Wright and Smith from the midfield so the team lined up as follows: Forde, Dunne, Ward, Robbo, Barron, Bouazza, Abdou, Trotter, Henry, Kane and Keogh.

Did the changes really make much difference? Well, it didn’t seem to be the case as referee Pawson got the game started as 1100 odd Lions fans roared in appreciation as Millwall quickly got into their stride. WE dominated the early exchanges and created enough chances in the opening quarter of an hour.

Bouazza, looking quite sharp, was having some level of success down the flank and when he whipped over a testing cross the Forest defence could only manage to get it partially cleared and when Henry walloped the ball back towards goal it looked in all the way but the ball slammed against the post and the chance had gone.

Bouazza himself was next to try his luck when the ball fell kindly to him from another haphazard clearance but he suffered a rush of blood to his head and the shot was rushed and went well wide of the goal.

Henry had a shot blocked from another set up by Bouazza and then Keogh picked up the loose ball but fired over the bar. We were on top and we looked like a side on a mission. We just could not find that missing spark to make our dominance pay and when Barron appeared to be upended as he went past their defender, inside their box, we would surely score from the spot? But the ref waved play on, no foul, no penalty, no yellow card for diving, nothing at all, just play on.

When, moments later Forest had their first skirmish into our area and a wayward shot was deflected onto our post, we should have, in all reality, like the guests of Belshazzar, seen the proverbial writing on the wall.

No ghostly hand carelessly scribbling about the fall of Babylon, you understand, but more like a fat pudgy finger from Andy Reid. Soon after the striking the post, Reid collected the ball out on the left side of midfield and when Jimmi Abdou went to meet him you would have thought the ball was like a hot potato as our usual busiest midfielder just stood back and let the wee fat man dance a jig before crossing deep into our area for McCleary, totally unmarked, to head past the stranded Forde. 1-0…totally against the run of play and yet, totally in keeping with our season.

We rallied and went after the equaliser but you tell the lads were still reeling from the shock of the Forest opener, the cavalier attitude had disappeared and a more mundane, workmanlike approach was adopted. The home crowd sensed we might not be as solid as we might have looked and this soon filter3d down to the Forest players and we were suddenly looking vulnerable. Robbo pulled off a last gasp headed clearance that in truth, he probably had no idea where the ball had gone, but to his (and our) relief, the ball went over Forde’s cross bar for a corner.

With five minutes or so remaining of the first half, disaster turned to catastrophe as Dunne hauled down Forest’s Cunningham. The subsequent free kick from Reid looked innocuous enough but it wasn’t cleared properly and the ball fell right into the path of Higginbotham who slammed it past Forde for 2-0.

At the end of the half we watched again in disbelief as James Henry hit a stupendous shot from just outside the area that had ‘keeper Camp beaten all hand up but again the woodwork came to the rescue of the home side as the ball cannoned against the bar and then rebounded onto the back of Camp and away to safety for the home side.

The whistle went for the end of the first forty five and we felt frustrated and somewhat baffled as to how we managed to be 2-0 down.

Mr Jackett took of Trotter and brought on Wright and it did make a bit of a difference as Wright doesn’t bother to look after Abdou and we soon had worked ourselves a free kick just outside their box. Bouazza hit the dead ball with some venom but it went past the wrong side of the post and away for a goal kick.

Forest seemed content to sit on their two goal cushion and after much huffing and puffing Jackett decided it was time to bring on Henderson. There was still a good half hour of football left to play so Hendo had time to make an impact but the big man didn’t wait too long to get involved.

As Wright collected the ball just inside their half he moved goal ward with little or no opposition and rifled a shot that hit a defender and looped up over the diving Camp but again the cross bar was struck but this time the ball fell into the path of Henderson who had no problem heading the ball into the back of the net. 2-1! At last some good fortune had come our way and Forest had the jitters.

Our confidence was drifting back now and we had a bit of momentum going but again we failed in the final execution of duties and could not fashion a deserved equaliser. And of course, the knife in the heart was just waiting to be slipped home by who else but the fat controller himself, Andy Reid.

A looping clearance from our defence was knocked back to just inside our half to Reid who took the ball down and moved towards goal. He wasn’t rushing himself and to our dismay, our midfield/defence just stood and watched him. He got within his own personal range (which is some distance out as we are all aware) and he unleashed a peach of a shot that screamed in to the back of the net giving Forde little or no chgance. 3-1 and that was effectively game over.

What little fight we might have had left dissipated like a fair few fans that had seen enough and made their way to the exits to wend their weary way home.

We still gave it a go, Robinson’s header looping onto the top of the net brought derision from the home fans and Keogh had a header go wide of the goal in the dying moments. It was, all in all, a very frustrating afternoon’s football. It was pretty clear we were the better footballing side but Forest rode their luck and we failed to hit the target. Three times against the woodwork is about as useful as hitting the corner flag three times for all the good it does you.

We cannot afford to be so improvident in front of goal against Southampton this coming Saturday as we will need to make every chance count if we are to glean anything from this coming encounter.
I don’t think we have any “easy” games left to play at all now so ever one is going to be a nail biter and if we capitulate now then we are going to drop like a stone over the next few weeks and then we are bang in real trouble.

I hope to see a lot of you there on Saturday as I have a feeling the lads are going to need every bit of support we can muster.
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    Nice one, thanks for that.