The frustration of missing four of the last six games (some big ones there) due to various reasons will hopefully be compensated with the luxury of back-to-back local games this week, though I’m sure Billy and the boys won’t find two lengthy journeys up to these parts quite so convenient – sorry!
I think it’s fair to say Thursday/Friday this week has been a good time for everyone connected with the club. Unable to attend on Thursday I legged it to arrive in my deserted local just after Angella’s opener for The Hornets before seeing as total and spectacular a comeback as you could wish to see. The fact I was surrounded by PNE fans fancying a scalp this Wednesday was put aside for the time being. The much-anticipated signings had a distinct better-late-than-never feel about them, but so what? Hobbs is now a Red, official. Does it matter what the complications were over the last two weeks as long as Hobbs continues where he left off? Does it heck? Vaughan is ours till May – more cause for celebration, and we’ll see what the other three new arrivals are made of in due course. Hopefully those Twitter Twits who thought fit to have recent a pop at Fawaz et al will stick his Thursday’s column into their pipes and smoke it, hopefully while they cast their minds back to where we were and the mess we were in this time two years ago, and the progress we’ve made since, as if they still needed it spelling out. Whilst all around us bizarre decisions are being made at certain clubs (like at Leeds: when is a sacking not a sacking) we now have an owner/chairman who is not only supporting the manager, but taking great delight in reaching out to the fans in a way we’ve not seen before.
Today the fans showed just how it feels - see the highlights section below.
The Championship, Sunday 2nd Feb 2014|
Nottingham Forest 3 - 1 Yeovil Town
|Venue||The City Ground|
Bright, temperature dropping close enough to worry a few brass monkeys
A hardy 350 gathered in the top of the Bridgford Lower – looked to be a similar number who came to watch ‘that game’ seven years ago, perhaps hoping they might witness another steal today.
Kick-off almost three minutes late, due partly to Yeovil winning the toss and changing ends to attack the Trent End first half.
It may not have been the big win many anticipated, but three points is three points and a good confidence boost as we face the prospect of potentially five consecutive away games (PNE, Blackpool, Huddersfield, Fulham/Blades (if we beat PNE) and The Dingles. A big test looms large, not only for the new arrivals, but also those who’ve been on the bench more often than not recently (Derbyshire, Radi, etc).|
In the end it didn’t matter. Better than holding out we finally managed that elusive coup de grace as we entered stoppage time. A cross by Reid eventually found Cox who turned it across goal where Djebbour was in the perfect position to fire home from point blank range. Barely on the field long enough for this to be a classic dream debut, but what the heck? If this is how he’s going to nick goals for us in the coming months I can’t see many fans complaining. Job done.
The change we anticipated most of all came with 15 minutes to go – the introduction of newly arrived Djebbour, albeit he waited long enough for is first touch of the ball which was cheered loudly by the fans. Henderson had meanwhile replaced Mackie, although his shooting was as wayward as the free kick Yeovil were awarded in a dangerous position with ten to go, causing people in both upper tiers of the Bridgford and Trent Ends respectively to dive for cover. This did not alter the fact there was a growing feeling of unease all around as we wondered whether we’d be left to rue more missed chances, made evident by the groans that met every stray ball. Not quite as loud as when things have not been going well for us, but certainly noticeable.
The Glovers proved a much tougher proposition after the break, choosing to make fewer mistakes themselves and trying to capitalise on some of ours, though essentially Forest’s class was what manage to keep our lead which looked increasingly slender as the second half progressed. It was a much tighter affair and Hayter continued to cause us a few problems until he was eventually replaced.
By this time however we were back in the lead courtesy of a Simon Cox strike seven minutes before HT. Once again Pato was involved, his shot blocked by Stech only for Mackie to intercept before crossing back to Cox who was able to tap home from close range.
The opening period saw new arrival Danny Fox give us an early taste of what should prove to be a very successful signing with some great runs down the left and he was not afraid to make his presence felt on the edge of the box either. All the same, it was slightly alarming when he came to be substituted just after the hour mark as speculation mounted whether he’d picked up a knock or whether it was just fatigue.
And less than ten minutes later they were level when a telling cross from the left found Moore who managed to nod past Darlow as if to say they were not here simply to make up the numbers.
And yet we’d already exposed one or two frailties of our own with a couple of short balls, and the goal rather upset our rhythm as we conceded possession a little too easily as Yeovil appeared to wake up. James Hayter, now on his South Western leg of his tour of appearing for smaller clubs led the line and we did look a little thin at the back at times. This would be partly due to our lust for attacking football in which everyone in a red shirt wanted a slice of the action, something I am all for, though our attempts to draw Yeovil down on us so as to hit them on the counter were in danger of backfiring a little more often than we’d have liked.
I felt I wanted to gag the Radio Nottingham commentary team only a few minutes into this game after their declaration this was a total mis-match. Either that or wave in their faces plenty of reference in today’s programme to ‘that game’ when they overturned a two-goal deficit – not to mention inflict our heaviest defeat of this season, ‘nuff said. Even so, the first ten minutes or so was something of a whirlwind as Forest’s dominance left The Glovers sucking at air with wave after wave of attacking football, and a one-goal lead after 15 minutes was probably the least we deserved, even if the manner in which it came could be regarded as fortuitous. Paterson, released by a classy Lansbury pass rammed the ball towards goal past a stranded Stech, catching a startled Webster in its path a couple of yards out who could only divert it into the back of the net.
|Highlights||A blistering start by Forest that promised much; a solid debut by Danny Fox; Djebbour’s last-minute goal to calm a few nerves and best of all the fans breaking out into spontaneous chants of ‘Stand up if you love Fawaz’ shortly after kick-off and just before FT.|
Yeovil’s leveller so soon after taking the lead, and a nervy second half with too many chances going begging, though what was most worrying was our tendency to be knocked off the ball too easily in midfield.
The Mousse fully deserved his MOTM award today, with some of the best football we’ve seen him play since his arrival on Trentside; Paterson was once again a bag of tricks and there were good performances by Collins and Lansbury.
One or two people looked slightly below par, most notably Jara alternating between flashes of brilliance to straightforward muppetry; also Mackie was wasteful when through on goal only to send his shot into the side netting.
|Referee||In Graham Scott we had arguably the best ref we’ve seen all season. He allowed the game to flow by playing advantage wherever possible and erred on the side of leniency when it came to penalising bad fouls, resulting in no bookings, but then it wasn’t the kind of game that needed a heavy-handed approach.|
7/10 – rather a game of two halves with the opening period fast paced and free-flowing, contrasting with a more scrappy second half. Surprised we didn’t see more goals from either side.
5 = Relegation fodder
4 = Flirting with danger
3 = Mid-table
2 = Playoffs
1 = Automatic
|2: So good to see home form reaching the levels of consistency we’ve become used to under King Billy. 13 games unbeaten and with a bolstered squad can only be good news as the gap between us and 2nd place has started to shrink to a more manageable size. Particularly important to have disposed of one of the basement clubs against whom we seem to have had some kind of mental block this season. All credit to Yeovil today though; they certainly had a go, as we nearly found out to our cost.|