Having watched last week’s draw with The Foxes on TV, it was quite clearly a fortunate penalty decision which helped us to a share of the points, though who’d begrudge it if you had to wait 14 months for a penalty, especially when that Filthy club based at Old T go into a sulk if they wait more than 14 MINUTES for one?
All that said, the problem with converting chances hasn’t gone away, and today’s game was a sharp reminder of that.
FLC, Saturday 17th Nov 2012, 1500|
Nottingham Forest 1 – 0 Sheffield Wednesday
|Venue||The City Ground|
Cool, dry, Moderate breeze
|Away fans||Their 4500 ticket allocation sold out over two weeks ahead of today suggested the Owls fans were expecting something from this game, and why not? With half of them wearing large green and red flags in support of their Portuguese hero Semedo they were easily the most lively and vocal visiting fans this season who out sang the home fans for most of the afternoon, only a conceded goal was ever going to shut them up… funny that.|
Would have kicked off on time had the visitors on winning the toss elected not to change ends and attack the Bridgford End first half.
Wednesday responded as expected, however we looked more likely to get a second than concede an equaliser. All the same, the final whistle was greeted with sighs of relief just as much as jubilation.|
A goal looked ever more likely as we entered the last quarter of the game, but it was lady luck whose intervention for a second week running that helped break the deadlock. Another surging run from Cohen from the right, Sharp and Blackstock were in the box, but it was Miguel Llera (the one with the Petr Cech-style cap) who made the contact, heading the ball beautifully into his own net. Lucky indeed, but they all count!
Changes were made soon after the break – as much out of necessity as anything else. Concern over a hamstring ended Reidy’s afternoon and JJ looked in some discomfort as he came off five minutes later, having had a largely frustrating game. Enter Lansbury and Guedioura and suddenly we were starting to create some openings with a little more width and movement to outmanoeuvre their defending in numbers.
With both sides out of the starting blocks at full pelt it looked like we might struggle to contain the Owls, the latest in an ever lengthening line of teams to field a large proportion of players of height far nearer that of Peter Crouch than our own Simon Gillett (not that his commitment and ability to tackle was ever in doubt). Despite our style of play at both ends of the field frequently looking like last season’s model (i.e. plenty of possession at the back without being entirely comfortable, then build-up play at a speed not incomparable to a snail’s pace, allowing them to defend in numbers) there was plenty of end-to-end stuff, although poor finishing early on meant neither keeper severely tested, albeit Camp had to tip over a long-range effort from Madine. At the other end, it looked like the penny was finally beginning to drop when we actually saw more red shirts in the box, on one occasion three laying siege to Kirkland’s goal when a cross came in from the right – which they all then managed to miss.
|Highlights||The arrival of Lansbury and Guedioura (on for Reidy and JJ) was undoubtedly the turning point, preventing the game from drifting towards a stodgy stalemate; Forest creating some more clear-cut chances ten minutes either side of the goal; a second successive home clean sheet; results elsewhere to make us smile, including a heavy defeat for D3rby, and an even heavier one for Ipswich (still think you made the right move, Luke?), and topped off with defeat for The Filth at Carrow Road.|
|Lowlights||Too many chances wasted (again) with some wayward long-range efforts; Still looking decidedly shaky in defence, characterised by a desperate goal-line clearance by Collins from a Bothroyd attempt and the scoreline remaining blank courtesy of some woeful shooting by Wednesday’s marksmen. Concern over the afternoon’s two casualties in Reidy and JJ who were clearly struggling shortly after the break.|
|Hero||Cohen for the telling cross which ultimately resulted in the goal and Collins for the aforementioned goal-line clearance.|
|Zero||Would be hard to pick anyone out, although injury may have been a factor in JJ’s disappointing free kick shortly before he was taken off.|
Andy Woolmer (haven’t we had this guy already this season?) who took all of 90 minutes to find his yellow card having overlooked at least two earlier offences, including frequent shirt-pulling and Blackstock being felled by a blatant elbow, even more so than the one he himself was sent off for in ‘that’ game.
|Entertainment Value||5/10 – Once again I did wonder if I was at the same game as the BBC Radio commentary team who appeared quite entertained by proceedings – all I saw was a rather disjointed affair which only really improved midway through the second half.|
|Promotion Rating||3: back within two points – and places – of the playoffs, today once again underlined defensive frailties and fears over the goals possibly drying up, with the spectre of injuries never far away. Good to see Ayala make the bench after a lay-off, though whether SOD will seek to bolster resources at the back before the loan transfer window shuts is anyone’s guess, with something to be said whichever way you look at the argument for or against bringing anyone else in.|
|Misc||After 17 games the Championship remains as tight as ever, with only eight points separating a play-off berth and 19th place (especially when you consider which teams currently occupy those lowest positions). When comparing the year-on-year points tally after 17 games, today’s win puts us back on a par with the 09/10 season which at this stage was in the middle of a long unbeaten run, though back-to-back wins will now be necessary to keep up with that. Contrast with last season, at which point we were only six points shy of the current total, after which it all went decidedly pear-shaped – reinforcing the point how delicately balanced this season is. Next up of course is one of our biggest bogey grounds where we still have possibly the worst away record in the Football League. That said, Wolves are currently enjoying the kind of post-relegation hangover we had 12 years ago, so I doubt we’ll have a better opportunity to hit them where it hurts next week. It will be my first visit to Molineux since around then, when a certain cheating player recently turned jailbird grabbed the headlines, and causing those of us who were there to foam at the mouth. Whatever happens next week though, I’ll have to watch my P’s and Q’s as I’ll be the guest of an old school pal who’s a huge Wolves fan. Cheers for the invitation, though it’s time for a transfer of bragging rights, methinks.|