Forest 3-4 Blackpool (4-6 agg)
Every Nottingham Forest fan on the planet will be left feeling let down, disappointed and heartbroken today, following yet another failure in the playoffs, this time at the hands of Blackpool. But, whilst we're all looking for scapegoats and reasons to take a pop at the club, we should remember the great strides and improvements that have been made this season. When the dust has settled on this devastating result, we will all come to terms with the fact, that it's been a fantastic season and one that's put us back on the footballing map once again.
For someone who's been one of Billy Davies' biggest supporters since his arrival at the club just over a year ago, I have to say that he got his team selection wrong in this one in my opinion. Playing Tyson instead of Boyd, Garner or Anderson, was questionable to say the least. Perch at left back was another error, when Chambers, Gunter, or even Chris Cohen have proved to be the more reliable selection this season. Davies' insistence and stubborness in continuing to play an out of form and low in confidence striker in David McGoldrick is also open to question, but he's the boss and he knows best. That's the moaning done with, you saw the game, you know what happened next, so an in depth match report isn't really necessary.
It has to be noted that the home support did everything they could to shout the team on and the backing that was called for was their in abundance. From before the game started, right up until defeat became inevitable, the crowd roared and cheered as if their very lives were at stake. For more than an hour it was working a treat and the players were putting in a performance that looked like the dream was going to be realised. Christ knows where it all went wrong, but Forest just seemed to run out of gas and threw in the towel, like a punch drunk boxer left clinging to the ropes.
Robert Earnshaw put in a spectacular performance and got us off to the best possible start, drawing us level on aggregate after just 7 minutes. They had to nail the City Ground roof down after that and the players responded by playing some neat and decisive football. Fair play to Blackpool though, because as the buggers would prove at the end, they just wouldn't lie down and didn't know when they were beat.
Forest took the lead into the break and were unlucky not to be infront by a bigger margin. Blackpool had chances of their own, in an open and entertaining game, but the lads held them at bay and were good for their one goal lead at half time.
The Reds' started the second half well, but the Seasiders hit back following some indecision by Camp in the Forest goal. He couldn't make his mind up whether to come out for the ball, or stay where he was, but the end result saw Campbell slipping the ball past him to put the game back on level terms, but more importantly, to put the visitors ahead on aggregate. That was a hammer blow to put it mildly, but once again the crowd roared into life and got behind the team. The game was now on a knife edge and the atmosphere electrically charged. Both teams were now going for it and both wanted the win. It was like watching boxers exchanging blows, where neither would give in.
Once again it fell to Robert Earnshaw to calm the nerves of the home support and lift the spirits to a level that sent us into ecstasy with his second goal of the game. There was only going to be one winner from here on in and it was Nottingham Forest. At least that's how it should have been, but Blackpool showed great resilience and went onto to cut us wide open and in the end won the game handsomely and deservedly.
It would be wrong to take anything away from the Seasiders victory, but they got a huge slice of luck early in the second half from a refereeing mistake. Earnie had a goal disallowed for being offside, but TV replays showed he was marginally on, much to the dismay of the City Ground crowd. Had that goal be given, then who knows what might have been. Something tells me that 'Pool would probably still gone onto win, such has been their good fortune over us this season.
Two further goals including the completion of a hatrick for DJ Campbell, ensured that the Seasiders would be enjoying their moment in the sun and would be on the train to Wembley. It was a result they thoroughly deserved and one that should put fear into whoever they play on May 22. A late consolation goal by Dele Adebola was never going to make much difference to the final result and was scant reward for an impressive first hour for the Reds', in which we once again proved how good we nearly are. Well done Blackpool and good luck in the final.