What else? Plenty to get my hackles up, from the tedious news stories with the media sucking up to their old favourites: What’s so special about West Ham? Answer: nothing. Harry Redknapp gets hit on the head by a stray ball. SO WHAT? And The Filth have cloned Chris Cohen and called it a Januzaj. Sorry, Moysie, but the original is ours!
No doubt the questions over his eligibility to play for England will completely overshadow the run-up to the World Cup. Of more interest of course is we are unlikely to see the words ‘England’, ‘friendly’ and ‘withdrawal’ in the same sentence over the next nine months as various squad players who regularly cry off friendlies suddenly remember they have a chance to represent their country at the highest level on the world stage.
And from fickle players to fickle fans – or at least some of ours. Nearly nine months since the smiles returned to our faces with the return of King Billy, and the moaners are still not happy, criticising tactics, team selection and transfer activity as if Megson, McLeish or McClaren were still at the helm. Funny how they all went quiet when we won at The Amex two weeks ago! Or would they honestly prefer it if we went back through the turmoil of two years ago (or ten months for that matter), and be managed by anyone whose surname begins with the letter M…? No, thought not. I’d have thought one of the best measures of general approval is the sight of scarves on sale around the ground with Billy’s name and face all over them. Can’t think of anyone else since the Great BC to be hallowed in that fashion.
And equally it would be unrealistic to claim that Billy or Fawaz or anyone else connected with the club possesses anything remotely resembling a magic wand (much that we’d like it of course!). I think that fact was suitably demonstrated by the fact today’s game merely served as a reminder that no matter how good things are things are not going to go our way every time (anyone expecting that must be a glory-hunting Filth fan – how refreshing it was to see them slip up yet again today!). Frustrating though that is, there’s still plenty to be encouraged about.
The Championship, Saturday 19th October 2013, KO 1500hrs
Nottingham Forest 1 - 1 AFC Bournemouth
|Venue||The City Ground|
Bright (ish) and very mild
About 1000 of them, and you have to give them credit for getting behind their team in the latter stages of the game.
Not a day to set your watch by. Kick-off over three minutes late (today’s excuse…anyone?) and if prolonged injury treatment justified barely seven minutes first half stoppage time, then where did five minutes of second half added time come from?
But much more significantly today, it’s incidents like these on which games turn. And all of a sudden the hitherto dormant fans in Lower Bridgford woke up and their sensing they might yet get something from this game began to rub off on the players as they started to press forward more and more. We’ve seen it happen before – we start to defend deeper and are unable to break out. Even allowing for the exceptionally long game this was today (though timely warning should certain games in May require ET to be played) we began to wilt, and the clock could not wind down fast enough. A minute into stoppage time and our greatest fears were finally borne out. A warning came in the form of a free kick in a dangerous position, but it was a relatively soft attempt that ultimately rewarded Bournemouth’s fight-back when Marc Pugh turned and fired low past Darlow to level. And there was no other way of looking at it, it had been coming. Deflated didn’t come close as I wended my way home through monsoon conditions, yet it was hardly a new experience and it won’t be the last time either. It’s just no consolation when it happens.|
The second half continued in a similar vein, with Forest playing some excellent football and creating a host of chances, with Hendo almost recreating a goal scored in recent weeks by heading across goal only for Cook to head away. In fact I think most of us lost count the number of chances we had and the number of times we went close, and this ultimately proved to be the rub – epitomised by Hendo being fed by another exquisite ball from Abdoun, some deft footwork to deceive Allsop just five yards in front of goal. 2-0, surely, so howls of anguish could be heard all around the ground when his eventual shot trickled inches wide of the post. And as if to add insult to injury, we all thought Hendo had atoned for this miss with a bullet header from a corner, but while we (and the players) launched into ultimately premature celebration, Bournemouth nearly caught us out by launching an immediate counter-attack reminiscent of that Sol Campbell goal against Argentina in the 1998 World Cup being ruled out for a reason just as inexplicable.
A frustrating afternoon beckoned (not for the first time against this lot) but the deadlock was broken just over five minutes before HT when Lansbury, in acres of space albeit 30 yards out, unleashed a peach of a shot which curled beautifully. From the Trent End it appeared initially just outside the post, but as it began to curl inwards, and it became obvious sub ‘keeper Allsop was never going to reach it, you knew where this was going. Most of us were too delighted with the quality of the goal to notice the change of celebratory music (last heard at Deepdale, I think), and there was an air of contentment when HT arrived some ten minutes late. The only real setback we’d suffered was the early replacement of Collins who was clearly struggling for periods and eventually made way for the returning Wilson just before the break, but we’d also had another scare when a low Grabban shot hit the post amid confusion in the Trent End box following failure to clear the ball – something else which might bite us in the bum later on.
By this stage however, we already had a clue over what lay in store after a hideous error by Reidy with a woefully short back pass allowing Rantie to break one-on-one with Darlow, who changed it from a heart-in-mouth moment to massive relief with a perfect reaction to smother the ball. The let-off helped galvanise Forest into some excellent attacking football, although the rhythm was interrupted somewhat with the prolonged halt in play and for Henderson to be replaced. With both sides going for it (and somewhat underlining The Cherries tendency to win or lose by a hatful) there was plenty of back-we-went/back-they-came football, though for the most part the ball was comfortably up-field long enough for Darlow to have his deckchair out. Cohen and (especially) Abdoun were the main architects of our forays forward, though Bournemouth frequently employed the offside trap, catching Cox time after time.
Ten minutes of neat crisp passing football (especially from us) came to an abrupt halt with the serious-looking injury to Cherries’ keeper Stephen Henderson after an innocuous challenge from Cox. With arms and legs flapping in all direction there was obviously cause for considerable concern and it was quite a relief to see him adjusting his oxygen mask unaided as he was eventually stretchered off.
|Highlights||Some exquisite football was played in several periods throughout the game, and Lansbury’s opener was the very least our positive play deserved. At least no-one can accuse us of failing to at least create chances – and in abundance too.|
Failure to kill the game off was always going to cost us, with Hendo’s miss from five yards the turning point. All those chances created through Cohen and Abdoun’s hard work, yet why were the strikers avoiding the box as if it were a minefield or wasting those precious chances hand over fist? Is it any wonder there are fans still crying out for BD to bring another striker in? Still not convinced over the disallowed goal. The lengthy halt in play early on threatened to disrupt the flow of the game.
Abdoun and Cohen were excellent and at the heart of everything creative today. Credit also to Darlow for two point blank saves early in the game when a goal looked inevitable.
Cox repeatedly got caught offside and his afternoon ended on a low note with a yellow card. Plenty of chase and pace but somehow never in the right place when needed.
Philip Gibbs – Did OK for about three quarters of the game – until he realised he’d not kept up with this season’s referee quota of the number of bookings he needed to make, and promptly remedied that with three yellow cards inside ten minutes, the ridiculous one on Darlow near the end was inexplicable.
6/10 – this had the makings of a bizarre encounter given the number of stoppages in the first half. The game itself swung from free flowing to scrappy and disjointed in equal measures.
5 = Relegation fodder
4 = Flirting with danger
3 = Mid-table
2 = Playoffs
1 = Automatic
|2 (just!) Hopefully Yeovil and Blackpool will bear the brunt of a Forest backlash if we are to focus on the positives from this game. That said, today serves as a stark reminder of what happens when we waste the chances we had and fail to put the game to bed. Points-wise it still looks OK, we’re still five points ahead of where we were four years ago, even though we lost ground on The Dingles again.|
A quarter of the season in and this is still good. Only three teams have scored more goals than us and two of them are below us in the table. If anyone had offered us where we are now before 3rd August I’d have bitten their hand off. Come On You Reds!|
Although The Cherries could hardly be described as a bogey team, our record against them is far from inspiring. A reminder of that fact being the last time this fixture was played was in League One on the opening day of an unlikely promotion season. What a contrast that day was with the last time we played next week’s opponents whom we faced at the other end of that campaign. Next week also happens to be our 13th league fixture of the season, won every season since 2009 as any statto will be quick to point out (let’s hope I’ve not given the kiss of death to that one!).