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Club News

Lancashire Red: Strange Magic

17 September 2013

At any stage of the season there are bound to be games – especially at home – when things are not going to go your way. Tonight proved a case in point.

The 100% home record finally went, and it took a lot of guts and perseverance to rescue what looked distinctly like a lost cause. Still, we remain unbeaten here (long may that continue) and are still looking down on tonight’s visitors.

Fixture
The Championship, Tuesday 17th September 2013, KO 1945hrs
Nottingham Forest 2 – 2 Middlesbrough
Venue
The City Ground
Weather/Conditions

Cool, drizzle – distinctly autumnal
Away fans

A typical Boro following, i.e. very few of them. About 600 crammed into the corner of Bridgford Lower – obviously enjoying themselves early on, though typical ‘Sing when you’re winning’ fans (they’re not famous anymore and they know it). Rendered dormant by FT.
Timekeeping
Three minutes late getting under way (no surprises there) but surprised at the limited stoppage time, especially in the first half given lengthy pauses for treatment to Radi and Wilson.
The Match
Ten minutes later we made a breakthrough when Boro failed to clear the ball properly, and Reid met the loose ball by crossing back from the right towards the far post where an unmarked Derbyshire headed home. Was it too little too late? The celebrations were a little subdued, but once we got used to the thought of being back in the game there was a distinct lift in the atmosphere all around the ground as Forest went in search of an equaliser. Minutes later we thought we were about to get it when Abdoun made a spectacular run down the left before sliding the ball in towards Hendo who advanced into the box, threading past two defenders with only Steele to beat. At six yards out he looked certain to score and would have done had Steele not brought him down. Penalty, surely. No, says Mr Dowd and promptly booked Hendo for supposedly impersonating Ashley Young when it looked a far more convincing pen than the foul on Radi in the first half. People around me were practically bursting into tears with rage and in total disbelief at Mr Dowd’s decision. It just wasn’t our night; most of us were by now convinced of that. However Henderson was to get his own back shortly after when a cross-cum-shot from Cohen drifts past the goal and finds Lichaj running in and for practically the first time all evening manages to cross the ball back on the deck, finding Hendo in prime position to stab the ball up into the net. No holding back with the celebrations this time, and little doubt the equaliser was thoroughly deserved. Tails up now and there was only one team likely to win it now, though as we went in to stoppage time we began to lose momentum and mindful of a possibly lengthy diversion to get away I decided to leg it with a minute’s stoppage time left to play, so missing the sending off of Ledesma for a crude tackle, thus meeting Mr Dowd’s seemingly predictable quota of brandishing at least one red card here – the only question being what took him so long. The tactics Boro had employed during the last quarter of the game were such that even Mr Dowd had grown tired of the gamesmanship, and earlier had booked Emnes for timewasting as he was substituted.
At this stage we looked totally dead and buried. The intent was there, but it just looked like one of those nights that nothing was happening. This was Billy’s cue to make changes and Radi and Cox duly made way for Hendo and Derbyshire. The game was definitely an end-to-end affair with Forest at long last starting to inject a little pace into proceedings.
Well they say things come in threes, so hopefully that was it from the misfortunes department. Uhhh, no – ‘fraid not. Ten minutes after HT we were two down after they caught us on the break, which we ought to have been prepared for – goodness knows we knew they would try it that way, it was even documented in the programme! Emnes slots the ball to  Leadbitter, totally wrong-footing Lichaj before passing out to Friend on the left who releases an absolute pile driver of a ball into the roof of the net. The second time in three days we’ve conceded a spectacular second goal.
This setback left the boys looking decidedly dazed. And we were about to see further evidence it wasn’t to be our night. Abdoun’s trickery, far from being a threat to usurp Radi proved how well the pair can combine when a low cross from the left was met by the Pole before he was completely floored by what looked like a pincer movement of three Boro defenders. It all happened at the other end so it was not clear cut, and even the video replay left me less than convinced, but a penalty was given all the same. Up steps Reidy, fires to the right hand side and Steele saves it. Stunned silence around the ground apart from the 600-odd travelling fans celebrating as if they’d scored another goal. In the melee that followed Adomah was very lucky not to walk for a most unedifying act of goading Reid immediately after the spot kick, and the subsequent yellow card was met by a chorus of boos.
Strange game this one, that was the general gist of the radio commentary, and they’d be right. Although we had the better of the early exchanges we were knocked right out of sync by the loss of Kelvin Wilson after only ten minutes due to a worrying looking back injury, and a sucker punch of a goal seven minutes later. Boro were committing men forward as expected, but looked sharper than we did when threatening goal. A low cross came in from Adomah on the right, and with three people including Darlow racing to meet it, it was Kamara who got the vital touch to tap it home from six yards. Unfamiliar territory for this season as we go behind for the first time – at home at least.
Highlights
Once again it was the substitutions that made the difference, and both Forest’s goals were well deserved. Perseverance paid off, suggesting there would have been a time not so long back when we would have just packed up at two goals down. A great fight-back during the last half-hour.
Lowlights

The early loss of Wilson was arguably the biggest blow which threatened to undermine the game plan and our defending thereafter was questionable to say the least; the penalty miss – well they do happen, though the aggressive eyeballing by Adomah immediately after was shocking; Henderson being booked after going down for what was a stone wall penalty.
Hero

Going from super sub to starting role is often a cursed move. This didn’t apply in Abdoun’s case tonight. He was simply excellent with his quick darting moves and squeezing through the tightest of gaps to create chances. Worked well with Radi too.
Zero

An uncharacteristically off night for Reidy: some stray passes in the first half allowed Boro to threaten at close quarters, then that penalty miss threatened to crown a frustrating night. Partially redeemed himself with an excellent move to set up Derbyshire’s goal though.
Referee
Phil Dowd – for a card-happy referee that Dowd is (and let’s face it he has form where Forest are concerned) it took him long enough to brandish a red one, and got it totally wrong with the Henderson booking. Not likely to feature on any Forest fans’ Christmas card lists anytime soon.
Entertainment Value
6/10 – some entertaining end-to-end stuff – just a pity we left it late before starting to play really well.

5 = Relegation fodder
4 = Flirting with danger
3 = Mid-table
2 = Playoffs
1 = Automatic
Promotion Rating
2 (from a result point of view, with a lapse into 3 for the first hour). A mixed bag of results elsewhere meant all change at the top once again, so we’re still there or thereabouts. Will need to defend better though, especially when you consider who’s coming here next.


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