Millwall 0-1 Nottingham Forest ~ Match Musings

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And so it goes on…
Fresh from the disappointment of the mid-week defeat against Blackburn we had to endure another 90 minutes plus stoppage time of clueless endeavour against a Forest side sniffing around the play off places with an eye on a return to the premier league…there really was only one result we were expecting and we got it.

Relegation is seemingly inexorable; we are a team that has all the hallmarks of a desperate man who has farted and is trying to cover up the stench by using a skunk…who is also farting.

Our home form is atrocious, you don’t need me to tell you this, it is ingrained in your soul and even as you are reading this (assuming you have the same need for self-flagellation as I have when scribbling this down) you have the number of losses burning a figure of despair in your poor addled brain. (it is eleven, just in case it’s not ingrained etc etc)

Questions are now being asked of Mr Jackett and the answers are not forthcoming. The trademark chant decrying (falsely) that there is only one of him was noticeably absent throughout Saturdays encounter with forest and his tenure as our man in charge is looking fairly tenuous at the moment.

The sword of Damocles is not exactly over his head at the moment but Berylson as his boss must be considering what to do if fate decrees we go down (yes, I know fate has got fuck all to do with it, we have our game in hand and blah blah blah) then Berylson has a huge decision to make.

There are times in everyone’s life when you have to decide whether or not to let go of something, children learn this when you give them helium balloons because once it’s gone it is gone and you have to get a replacement or go without.

The spring sunshine had finally made an appearance as the team sheet was read out and as expected, wholesale changes were made from the starting eleven from Tuesday as Mr Jackett sent out a team not only to stave off relegation but also stave off the spectre of a possible P45 scenario…

Forde in goal, Dunne (captain), Beevers, Osborne and Smith A at the back, Abdou and St Ledger in front of them, Henry, Saville and Tyson in front of them and Batt up front on his own. What formation is that you may ask? I think it is called the shambolic system…

Referee Wright got the game going in front of a very healthy 12,000+ crowd boosted by some 2000 odd travelling fans from Nottingham who displayed, in parts, a willingness to allude to the crassness of happyclappydom complete with the odd clot in fancy dress

We started poorly and it went downhill from there. Forest looked more eager and had a decent teamwork ethic going on, we looked like eleven individuals who had just met over the park and decided to have a kick about. It took Forest all of six minutes to force a corner and from the resulting kick we watched forlornly as the ball floated over the defence to the unmarked Halford who headed the ball home with no problem. 0-1 and sighs of resolution that came from the home fans almost drowned out the cheers from the Forest fans.

I would like to say that this set back galvanised the troops into all out operation blitzkrieg on the visitors but it was like watching General Percival’s attempt at holding Singapore at times.

The players out there for us did not seem to understand the simple concept that even if something is not your fault it remains your responsibility if you are taking part in the action.

At least Forde, grasped this idea and was called upon almost immediately after the goal to save from a Forest move that saw Guedioura breeze through our midfield and find fatty Reid who still has the footballing acumen to pick out a pass and he comfortably found the right ball to another Forest player who I have no inclination to remember, who shot low down forcing Forde into a decent save.

We had a go, I am not denying that, but even when Batt managed to get through and looked like getting a shot away he was fouled for a clear penalty (clearer than that ludicrous one Blackburn got, anyway) but referee Wright wasn’t interested.

Yet another corner for Forest saw panic stations again in our defence, Halford again getting in amongst the action, flicking the ball onto Sharp who thankfully made a pigs breakfast of an attempt at a scissor kick.

On the half hour mark we were fortunate not to go two down. No lessons learnt from Tuesday as we let Cox gambol along with the ball and have a virtual free shot at our goal which again Forde dealt with comfortably.

Henry, a shadow of his usual self, smashed a shot into the side netting after robbing the ball in midfield and then soon after whipped a ball in that was punched clear by Darlow, the Forest ‘keeper as St Ledger was stooping to head home but that was about all we had on offer. Tyson was fouled near the stroke of half time and Elliot Ward (Darren’s less successful brother) was booked for it and that was the end of a very dour and disappointing half of football.

There were some boos but not too many as the lads trudged off. I think the mood of the crowd was one of resignation rather than anger.

The second half began as the rain put paid to any sunshine and we looked out of our depth on the wet grass. Forest, by and large, were doing a number on us. They knew our limitations better than we knew them.

We had no idea what to do or even how to do it, and the only two players who were really having a go were Forde (by default) and Batt who simply confuses the fuck out of everyone. It Mr Jackett until the hour mark to make any changes and once again he misjudged the mood of the crowd by taking off Batt who was probably our only (if very marginal) threat to the Forest defence. The boos this time were aimed at the manager, not the player.

It was a double sub as Batt and Tyson went off for Marquis and Keogh. This improved our chances by about as much as fitting a false leg on a three legged hedgehog and plonking it on the central reservation of the M25.

Keogh has at least got some sort of proven track record but I am afraid Marquis still has a lot to prove. He is a willing trier but that is not enough at this level. He is like the willing kid in school who raises his hand to spell the word ‘banana’ and has no trouble starting the word but simply doesn’t know where it ends…

The emphasis by Forest was to soak up and counter attack and they worked it very well indeed. Fatty Reid had an attempt after we had lost possession going forward and Dunne took a yellow card for the team as we again got tapped on the counter attack.

With boring familiarity, Forest again broke out of defence with ease, Sharp this time sprinting down the line and crossing low into the box. The ball was half blocked by Beevers and the ball spun up and we watched in horror as Dunne thumped a header towards his own goal but thankfully it went the right side of the post for us.

Fatty Reid was a constant thorn in our side and he again was the instigator of another Forest attack, feeding the ball down the line to McGugan whose cross was met by substitute Tudgay but again David Forde proved his worth by making an excellent save.

We had a chance to actually level the scores when we got a corner and the resulting cross was met by Beevers head but the ball went across the face of the goal and Keogh could not connect with it and the chance went begging.

Just to teach us not to be so feisty, Forest then went straight up our end and forced Forde into another save, this time though the shot was straight down his throat and easy to deal with.

By now we as fans had completely given up on getting anything from this game and more time was spent checking other scores to see if other teams were actually doing worse than us to make our lives a little less fraught but only Wolves were offering us a crumb of comfort.

Feeney came on with ten minutes left and he looked a little bit more interested than the rest of the team but it was never going to be the answer to our prayers. When he got the ball at least he went for it and tried to take on their defender, something which we had been sadly lacking in all afternoon.

With about two minutes left we watched in muted acquiescence as forest continued the counter attacking format, another effort clearing the bar this time and almost on full time McGugan was given the freedom of the Den to trot all the way into our danger zone only to fire harmlessly into Forde’s grateful arms with the goal at his mercy.

Four more minutes of torture were indicated by the fourth official and Forest almost nicked a second goal when Cox latched onto a ball over the top of our defence and tried to hit a monstrous lob from about 35 yards out. Forde was scrambling back and just got a hand to it first then grabbed the ball at the second attempt.

All in all it was depressing end to a depressing game, not spirit, no fight, no chance. I have had more fun watching my dog chew toffee,

The crowd were, in fact kind to the players and the management. No jeers, no boos and no calls for anyone to be “out, out, out”.

The Millwall staff must know that the same crowd that cheer and applaud a job well done will also cheer and applaud as you metaphorically lose your head as well. Crowds are like that; they enjoy a show.

We have the interminably insufferable Crystal Palace next on Tuesday night for our last home game of the season (and possibly in this division) so we should get a bumper crowd and a final chance to redeem a Gods awful home record with at least a draw…or the crowd might turn a wee bit nasty…

"Off with his head!" - (King Richard III, Act III, Scene IV).
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