Date:Monday April 17 2006
Tranmere on Saturday saw Forest battle to a victory in a match earlier in the season they would have come away with nothing from. Perch was ruled out and his place in centre midfield given to John Thompson for the only change in the starting eleven. This proved to be a blessing in disguise for the Reds as Thompson’s extra height was invaluable against a tall Tranmere side intent on lumping high ball after high ball into the Forest defence. Thompson and centre midfield partner Holt were outstanding snuffing out anything Rovers tried to create through midfield. At the back Bennett and Curtis were solid but the Centre Halves Morgan and Breckin were simply awesome winning the large majority of the aerial battles and limiting Rovers to a couple of half chances.
Forest played a mixture of quick short passes and longer balls into the channels for Tyson and Holt to hold the ball up for support or look to get in on goal. They had made a positive start in a fairly even opening before a corner from the Forest left eventually fell to Grant Holt who turned and fired past Wilson to give Forest the lead.
Holt had earlier missed an opportunity following a miscued clearance by Wilson chipping wide with the keeper stranded but his strike proved to be all important as Forest could not find a second but held firm for the points.
Roared on by nearly 2,500 thousand travelling Reds fans Forest defend stoutly and despite the best efforts of a poor referee were able to take the sting out of a battling Tranmere side. The second half saw Forest go close through Holts header from a Commons cross and from the same players right wing corner Breckin narrowly failed to convert. Perhaps the best chance fell to Tyson midway through, running past Goodison onto Morgan’s long ball he lobbed Wilson only to see the ball bounce over on the hard ground and over the crossbar.
A bizarre extra five minutes gave Tranmere a little hope but Forest held out and Sub Lester almost put the seal on the win after Tyson’s run but was unable to take the ball around the Rovers keeper. The whistle eventually blew to the joy of the Forest fans whose applause for the team grew as news of results elsewhere filtered through.
So with Forest firmly established as Play-Off contenders Bank Holiday Monday saw the visit of lowly Yeovil Town to the City Ground. An expectant crowd almost filled the City Ground as over 28,000 turned up to see if the Reds could stretch their winning run to six matches in a late season surge.
‘Charlie and Frank’ named the same eleven that had played so well in the game on Saturday as they set about maintaining a last gasp promotion push starting when they replaced Megson for the match at Port Vale. Forest looked bright from the first minute but despite that it was the 1,500 Town fans that were singing first in what was to be an electric atmosphere at The City Ground. Forest Captain Breckin impeded Jevons just outside the Forest box and with the Forest wall and keeper still getting organised the ref allowed the fouled Yeovil striker to pick himself up and slot the ball past the surprised Pederson to put Town ahead.
Forest seemed to be a little taken aback by the whole incident but despite a series of half chances they could not find the equaliser. Forest had the majority of possession all afternoon and began to set about the task of levelling the game but just could not find the finishing touch. Commons and Holt both going close as despite Yeovil’s emergence into the match a superb performance from number two goalkeeper Collis was the difference in keeping their lead intact. Collis claimed well from a number of crosses and corners to keep the likes of Holt frustrated in their chase for the equaliser.
With the fans just starting to wonder if this was to be just one of those days, Breckin stole in at the near post to deftly head home Clingan’s corner to atone for his earlier error and add another goal to his already impressive seasons tally. The goal was no more than Forest deserved and after Commons blasted high and wide after superb lead up play the side went in for the interval.
The second half saw Forest firmly in control as they pressed for the winner, Yeovil intent on defending well and breaking on the counter through the impressive Matt Harrold. For all Forest’s effort they couldn’t create any clear cut chances forcing the management duo into a change on the hour mark as Southall was introduced for the industrious Clingan.
The move paid dividend for the pair shortly after the change, Holt had found Tyson with a centre and the former Wycombe strikers shot deflected high into the air and Southall strong under pressure was able to nod home what proved to be the winner.
The return of Southall can only be a positive as Forest look to extend their season for another few weeks, with Gary Holt again looking a class above his direct opponent and Thompson again impressive in his tackling and work rate Forest now have stiff competition for midfield places with the Clingan, Commons and Perch all looking in form at the right stage of the season.
Tyson and Holt worked tirelessly again for Forest in what really is becoming a team effort. The side without doubt are playing for each other and Management and there is no better example than the defending these two do from the front. Holt and Tyson harried and chased everything again today and although the whole team deserves praise for their commitment and determination the partnership must be commended for their efforts. Grant Holt came close when looping a header back over the keeper from a deep Commons cross but he clutched his head in his hands as the ball dropped agonisingly onto the roof of the net. His namesake Gary Holt was equally as near when his crashing shot from the edge of the area flew just over.
Forest were given a let off for believing the game was over moments later though as Jevons blasted over the Forest bar as Breckin slipped trying to deal with a right wing cross. The former Everton striker just could not keep his effort down under pressure and the large crowd breathed a huge sigh of relief. Despite facing a long spell of injury time for the second game in a row the Reds held on to win their sixth match on the trot and as the majority of the City Ground broke into a nervous combination of whistles and song the referee blew up to rapturous applause.
Players and fans showed each other their appreciation as the scoreboards at either end became the focus of attention for both. As the results of Barnsley, Brentford, Oldham and Swansea flashed up each cheer became more vociferous and as the players swapped high-fives the crowd left the City Ground in fits of song.
With three remaining matches starting at Hartlepool on Saturday followed by the visit of Bournemouth before the final day trip to Bradford, Forest must have one eye on the Play-Off semi final. However, they must not let their form or effort slip in any of the three games and to do so would be complacent and could prove ultimately very costly. Fortunately for the Reds Barlow and McParland both seemingly have their feet firmly on the ground and whilst crediting the players for their efforts so far will no doubt hammer into the squad that they is still a long way to go before Forest can even think about a trip to Cardiff.
For us to even be discussing ‘hotels in Cardiff’ is almost a dream following an at times hellish season in League One. One thing is for sure, if the side continue to play with their hearts as they have done increasingly over this excellent run and with the talent they have at their disposal playing Nottingham Forest is not a fixture any teams in this league would like to have to face. There is still a way to go and although Forest generally find a way of building you up to let you come crashing back to earth, this time I Believe.
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