Forest lined up in a 4231 to start with, although we could have been playing 0-10-0 for all the impact that the Reds’ players made in the first half an hour.
Reading just looked bigger, brighter and more energetic, and it was simply too easy for them to race into a two goal lead. The second goal, by Kaspars Gorkss was particularly disappointing, as the big defender had a free header from a corner.
This prompted a change of formation which brought the best out of the two front men, and after a false start Forest pulled a goal back when Mackie crossed for Cox to score.
The half-time break was welcome, and brought about a double substitution, a more traditional 442, and a change in attitude from the Reds; after two close efforts, substitute Darius Henderson got his reward with the equaliser.
However, Reading scored with their only meaningful effort of the half, and this knocked the stuffing out of Forest; despite Chris Gunter’s dismissal, Reading didn’t look in too much danger and held on to take the points.
League leaders Burnley visited the City Ground, led by Forest old-boy, Nottingham lad (and former boyfriend of our neighbour) Sean Dyche.
Click the play button to find out if their table topping is just a flash in the pan or a worthy position for a talented team. Also listen to hear our views on a defence that is undergoing an injury crisis and a midfield that is looking much more assured than it did a few weeks ago.
After weeks of having surprisingly attacking line-ups with Lansbury playing as a deep-lying midfielder, Forest went for a more cautious team selection with Gonzalo Jara Reyes and loanee David Vaughan in the centre of the park; Lansbury was supporting Darius Henderson with Djamal Abdoun and Jamie Mackie providing width.
It should be said that the standout performers were Darlow, who deservedly won the sponsor’s MOTM award, Jara and Vaughan, and Henderson; the latter did not have the best match, but stood out for being a lone striker with absolutely no support, especially after Lansbury pulled wide to compensate for Abdoun’s deserved dismissal.
Overall I have no complaints about the outcome; Forest and Blackpool both lacked cutting edge and quality, and it certainly did not look like a top six match. Some blame the referee, and while there was a hint of offside about Michael Chopra’s role in Stephen Dobbie’s late winner, I don’t think you can realistically expect a result when you barely enter the opposition’s half, especially at home.
Listen to our podcast for more views and opinions from the Maradona of the Midlands and some of you, dear fans.
It’s no secret that I’ve had the odd criticism of Billy Davies over the years. He’s an excellent manager at this level, but sometimes he doesn’t help himself. Throw Jim Price into the mix and you get double the … whatever it is that has resulted in the media ban (something that doesn’t really matter much now, but is likely to cause us a load of grief when we go up).
But, and it’s a big but, I’m really pleased that he’s been given a contract renewal.
Over the last few years we’ve become a bit of a joke, manager-wise. Billy’s the fifth in two years (just don’t mention McClaren and Mcleish). We’ve had a great start, following a large amount of investment – unbeaten at home and losing just the once on the road, to Wigan. If he sees out the contract (and given the Fawaz-Billy love in there’s no reason to think he won’t) that makes him our longest serving manager since Frank Clark.
You may have complaints about some aspects of our style of play (cough time-wasting) or about the decision to bring in hard-working runners instead of goal-poaching strikers. And the punters at Betfair may be a bit frustrated with our tendency to draw (did I mention hard-working runners?).
But we’ve always said that managers need to be given time. Chairmen can often be too quick to pull the trigger, especially recently in the Championship, and our reputation in this regard hasn’t been great. So this renewal gives Billy the space to build something special.
A long trip to Yeovil at the weekend (hopefully managed a bit better than Mansfield’s trip to the South West last weekend) probably demands three points, given Yeovil’s lowly position. But we all know how things can turn out against the Glovers. With Lansbury, of wonder-strike fame, suspended, we’ll have to hope the strikers can step up. And if all else fails, there’s always Reidy – he’s on such a run of form that Betfair make us 14/19 favourites to return to the East Midlands with three points.
Click the play button to find out why Lansbury and Darlow deserved their bookings, why the officials actually helped us out and, most importantly, why we have the strikers we do and why we play the way we do against AFC Bournemouth.
A couple of changes to our line-up saw us appear in a straight-forward 4-4-2, with Darlow in goal, Jara, Hobbs, Collins and Cohen across the back four, Lansbury behind Reid, Majewski and Abdoun, with Cox and Henderson up-front.
A serious injury to their keeper, and a number of excellent saves from ours told the story of the first half. Apart from Lansbury’s wonder-strike from distance. A number of corners (most of them undeserved) and a load of other chances went begging.
And for the second, we struggled even more in front of goal until Bournemouth saw that we were there for the taking. And take us they did, with a 90th minute equaliser.
Some blamed the ref – but if anything the officials were lenient with us. This was a game we had in the palm of our hands and threw away, all by ourselves.
Jamie Mackie reckons that the extra strength in depth at Nottingham Forest will be key to our chances of making it up next season.
Billy knew he had to bring boost the squad with his type of player and, despite some gnashing of teeth in some quarters, we’ve had quite a transfer blitz recently. And some of the arrivals (Hobbs and Lichaj stand out to me, and I’m looking forward to see Chalobah as well) have been quality. Which helps us set our stall out as genuine promotion contenders in the football betting and we’re currently sat fourth after a reasonable away draw at Charlton.
Billy’s getting used to rotating the side and Mackie’s been talking about the depth and team spirit being the deciding factors – “I’m a great believer that team spirit can win you extra points. That can be the difference between going up and missing out at the end of the season”. As we said in our match report from the weekend – Billy’s previous Forest side was greater than the sum of its parts – maybe Jamie reckons that’s starting to gel here as well.
As for Mackie himself, I wasn’t too surprised to see him leave QPR in the summer and he certainly fits the profile of a Davies forward; work rate and pace, but only a single goal. And I guess we’ll see him start again on Saturday’s trip to the south coast to face a Brighton side that has been tipped for success in the live football commentary.
Derby had statistically more possession and shots on goal, but only one statistic counts. Forest scored through Jack Hobbs, who had all the time and space in the world to head home, and should have extended their lead through Mackie (saved by Grant in the first half) and Henderson (one header woefully wide, one penalty well saved).
Derby can probably feel a bit hard done by, but they were not particularly strong in either box. For most of the match key players like Martin and Hughes were nullified, only emerging after Keogh’s harsh-but-just-about-fair dismissal.
Forest fans were naturally delighted, although it was a bit harder than it needed to be (with Karl Darlow making several saves, but none that were too testing), and it would not have been that much of a surprise if Andy Reid had put us 2-0 with the last kick of the game. I was going to say that would have been harsh on Derby, but let’s be honest, Nigel Clough’s dismissal overshadowed the Rams’ contribution on the day.
Despite defeat in the Capital One Cup last night, Billy Davies has hailed Nottingham Forest’s fighting spirit in the league following their impressive comeback against Middlesbrough, and their 2-2 draw against Doncaster. It is this resilience that could see the Reds make a real push for promotion this season.
After just one defeat from their opening eight games, Forest have set their stall out to be genuine contenders in the race for promotion this year, and their comeback from 2-0 down at home to Middlesbrough to salvage a 2-2 draw showed just what they are made of. The best odds for the Championship show how punters are putting faith in them. “I said to the players at the end of the match that I was very proud of their performance; I was very proud of their effort,” the manager said. “The one thing you can say about this group is that they never give in. Never,” he added.
After missing out on a play-off place by just one point in 2012-13, this strong start to the campaign should be cause for great optimism at the City Ground. For Davies, who became Forest’s fifth manager in just over two years when he returned to the club in February, the team’s success in the football odds is all down to their fighting spirit and he knows that they will need to show more of this resilience if they are to mount a real challenge. “They have a fantastic energy and spirit about them – and that is what makes me proud,” the 49 year old said. “I am always confident in this group, because they never know when they are beaten.”
After a tough couple of years for Forest on and off the pitch, Billy will hope that these experiences will serve to strengthen the resolve amongst his squad and ensure that they continue to fight for every point. In a league as tight as the Championship, performances like the one that Forest gave against Middlesbrough and Doncaster are vital in ensuring promotion and if they can continue to show that steel then Davies’ men could be heading in the right direction for a top flight return.
Forest has one enforced change following the departure of Adlene Guedioura to the rarified heights of the Premier League – with the oft-maligned Guy “Moooooose” Moussi taking his place.
We lined up in a 4-4-2 diamond, with Darlow, Lichaj, Hobbs, Wilson and Cohen at the back, the Moose in front of them, with Reid, Majewski and Lansbury behind a front pairing of Cox and Mackie.
Barnsley played a proper away team game and made life difficult for us – however, three points was a fair result, despite a couple of scares, in which the Moose played his part. Oh, and A-Block was in on the action all game – with Billy and Fawaz sat there (cos of WMD’s suspension) and, at half time, Bill Medley being serenaded to the sounds of “You’ve lost that loving feeling”.
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