Alex Red: Reds In Reserve
It was a very poor first half, with Shrewsbury coming off the happier at half time. Whatever Charlie said to the lads during the break must have been...well, it was genius, because they came out a much better side.
Rune had little to do throughout, pulling off just one decent save from a cracking shot late on, but by then the game was over and Forest were deserved winners. Early in the second half Ben Fairclough (ANOTHER tiny striker - far too slight and lightweight) made the best of a defensive error in midfield and broke away to set up Hughes for a simple tap in. From this moment Forest never looked back and they started to take the game by the scruff of the neck. James Cullingworth - excellent potential - ran down the right wing and cut back inside, to cross again to Hughes who took the ball well on the half volley and smashed it into the net.
Cullingworth himself then was on the scoresheet, with a Commonsesque cross/shot that rose magestically and dipped into the top far corner of the net, from about 30 yards out. As they were running back to the restart, another player asked him if he meant it and he nodded his head, although I am not so sure. Still a fantastic goal, very well taken and well deserved, for he ran well and played with a level head, unruffled by the defenders. He's a tricky lad, with the ability to cut back well at the by-line.
4-0 came from a close range shot by Thornhill, from a selfless, and effortless, lay-off by Dobie, who came on with about 15 minutes to go. Prior to that he'd looked a little nervous to be honest - but very eager to get onto the pitch and play. He looks lean and fit, and has lost none of his pace. He shone on the rainy afternoon for the 15 minutes he was on - by far, he was head and shoulders above the rest of the players.
He himself bagged the last two goals, the 5th of the day being a simple tap in, but the 6th an excellent solo effort made by his own running onto a superb ball played through the defence by Lewis McGugan.
An excellent second half, which demoralised the Shrewsbury fans who had started to drift away after the third goal.
The new lad, Bencherif played the full 90minutes today. Wow. He's a revelation. A big lad - easily as tall as Fernandez - maybe taller, with strong legs and an excellent head on the ball. His distribution can be a little 'Wes-like' at times, and the similarity doesn't end there. He's as strong as Wes, but more vocal - shouting for the ball, claiming it and also talking to Fernandez well. Shrewsbury players were bouncing off him in tackles and he brought the ball out of the defence well.
One lad who had a shocker of a game was Joseph Heath. He spent the majority of the first half standing alone and unmarked on the right wing, doing absolutely nothing. He needs to learn to shout for the ball. Mind you when he was on the ball he wasn't that inspiring either.
Hughes had a good game and played well, looking the most dangerous of the attacking midfielders - Power disappointed me. I'd heard great reports about him, but Hughes played him off the park.
Most important was Dobie himself. I snatched a quick word with him after the game and he was happy to have played and he seemed relieved to have made it through the time on the pitch.
I must say though - Gay Meadow is a real hole. Its sheduled for demolition soon - and I can see why. It has a 1930's feel, of old chips, and mushy peas.