There may well be something to be said for whether the international break knocked us off our stride.Be that as it may, there was always going to come the day we wouldn’t have things all our own way at the newly restored Fortress City Ground.
At least that theory was tested against credible opposition, even if they haven’t had the best of starts to the campaign (sounds a bit like what we were going through twelve months ago?).
SOD had already expressed a desire for Forest to show their unpredictable side, and if our ability to come from behind was already proven at Bolton last month, then a much sterner test was passed today.
OK, so we couldn’t quite turn it into a win, but didn’t we have fun watching a determined fight back bear the fruit so richly deserved and show just how far the spirit of this team has progressed in such a short space of time?
FLC 15 September 2012, 1500|
Nottingham Forest 2 – 2 Birmingham City
|Venue||The City Ground|
|Weather/Conditions||Bright, even quite warm considering the recent lousy weather.|
|Away fans||Around 2000 of them – with about three minutes when they actually made some noise. No prizes for guessing which three. Were left standing statuesque and with mouths gaping open after Harding’s equaliser.|
|Timekeeping||Around 90 seconds late. An improvement on the previous two home fixtures, though that still doesn’t explain the extended wait once everyone was in position and ready.|
May have taken a deflection on its way in, but we were too ecstatic (not to mention relieved!) to bother about that. Billy Sharp might have snatched the winner a couple of minutes later had his well-timed header not gone over the bar, though watching him today gave us the distinct feeling his first Forest goal cannot be long off.|
The goal galvanised Forest, whose perseverance was eventually rewarded four minutes from time. We’ve already seen Harding’s ability to work his way into the opposition box via the left – today he went one better having combined well with Halford by unleashing a cool shot past Butland and in at the far post.
But even then we were already back in it with a simply amazing goal in which a long ball from McGugan found Cox, albeit with a tricky job of lobbing it over the oncoming Jack Butland. Game on!
With SOD responding by immediately sending on Dan Harding, and Radi seven minutes later, is it any surprise that virtually no home fans could be seen heading for the exits?
A year ago that would have been game over, as indeed it was in last season’s corresponding fixture which marked the start of the huge changes on Trentside.
And so it proved, just as we entered that critical final 20 minutes of the game when Marlon King (roundly booed all afternoon by the home support as you’d expect) was first denied by Hutchinson only for Hayden Mullins to pounce and fire home, then turn beneficiary two minutes later by slotting home a neat pass from Redmond.
Although SOD countered by sending on Cox (determined not to let minor inconveniences like injuries sustained midweek rule him out of today’s action) for Blackstock, there was still a nagging feeling they might go and nick one.
But before you could go away thinking this is now the norm, you sensed something wasn’t quite right as the odd stray ball became a succession of passes not finding their target. The game became more disjointed and scrappy the nearer we got to HT, and afterwards The Blues began to look far more likely to score, especially once Lovenkrands’ replacement in the ominous form of ex-Dingle Wade Elliot began to make his presence felt.
Similar to Charlton and Bolton games with a bright opening 20 minutes with yet more attractive passing football from Forest.
Credit also to Lee Camp for denying Marlon King having been sent clear in a first half counter-attack.|
Who’d have thought McGugan’s cracker at The Reebok would be eclipsed so quickly? At least he could say he was involved in setting up Cox’s exquisitely taken goal today. The whole fight back process from that moment on spoke volumes for SOD and the boys, climaxing with Harding’s deft finish.
|Lowlights||Passing not up to its usual standard for this season with too many easy interceptions; another flurry of yellow cards to add to the 10 already collected, one or two of those might easily have been red with a more one-eyed ref. Still need to make more of those chances count.|
|Hero||The three subs all played their part: Harding and Cox we already know about, but Radi’s contribution shouldn’t be overlooked as we sought to unlock a stubborn Blues defence; Billy Sharp looked a real threat in the box; Lee Camp’s performance worthy of laying last season’s demons firmly to rest, especially for delighting the home fans after denying King in the first half.|
|Zero||Guedioura had another off-day (by his standards at least) with more than his share of stray passes.|
|Referee||Mark Halsey – OK most of the time, though ought to have been somewhat more balanced dishing out yellow cards, what with Blues’ penchant for shirt-pulling for starters.|
|Entertainment Value||6/10 – would have been higher but for the game becoming scrappy mid-way through the opening period.|
|Promotion Rating||2 – mainly for not giving the game up as a lost cause which we would have done much earlier on during last season.|
Trick question of the day for those who bought a programme for today’s game: how many looked at the Spot The Differences bit in the Junior Reds section? No, I couldn’t spot any either!|
First Premiership pop of the season goes to the player who snubbed the pre-match handshake on Saturday - two words spring to mind: GROW UP!
9 points from 5 games represents our best start to a season for some years. Even Billy Davies’ first full season saw us wait until late September for our first win.