Forest Need To Play Ugly
After the soaring heights of the FA Cup victory over Premiership Charlton, Nottingham Forest were expected to offer a repeat performance when faced with the more modest challenge posed by little Yeovil, a team still fighting to establish their Football League credentials.
Instead they found themselves dragged back down to earth, forced to scrap and claw their way to a dour, unsightly win that served to offer a grim reminder of what life is like in the third tier of English football.
But, while flowing football and glamour may this time have been in short supply at the City Ground, the Reds can enjoy the consolation of a return to the pinnacle of League One.
Unlike their success over Charlton, there was little that will live long in the memory from this match, which was decided in fitting fashion by a goal earned not through creative endeavour or a moment of genius, but instead by a costly mistake from Steve Mildenhall, Yeovil's former Notts County keeper.
While Grant Holt was left with much to do, as he lashed the ball home in confident fashion from just inside the box, after Mildenhall had spilled a cross, the scrappy nature of the goal was indicative of the nature of the game.
But, while all of this may be true, to many - and most notably Colin Calderwood - all of this will be entirely unimportant.
Because, while their victory seven days previously may have earned them the chance to test themselves against the most talked about side in the country, in the form of Jose Mourinho's Chelsea, in the long run Saturday's success could have wider-reaching ramifications.
Whatever the result on the Kings Road, it will not play a part in helping them fulfil their priorities, which - with no disrespect to them - is to ensure that, next season, they are facing the likes of Wolves, Sheffield Wednesday, Leicester and, depending on the success of their own promotion hopes, Derby County, rather than the more modest foes such as Yeovil, Chesterfield, Cheltenham and Leyton Orient.
What definitely will play a part in pushing them towards that goal, however, are victories in the mould of that witnessed on Saturday.
It is with this kind of grim determination and resolve that Forest will hang on to the top spot they regained in the table this weekend.
If Forest are to be a success, it is not always going to be pretty.
In the lack-lustre opening 15 minutes, it was the visitors who had the better of the chances, as they took full advantage of the few rare opportunities of their own they enjoyed to play football, with Anthony Barry forcing a capable save from Paul Smith with a driven effort.
It took almost 20 minutes before Forest could register an effort on goal, as Grant Holt failed to properly connect with a Nathan Tyson cross, when he will have felt he should have done better, eight yards from goal.
There was some consistency from their previous outing, as Tyson again looked the player most likely to do damage for Forest, as he was again utilised in effective fashion wide on the left of midfield.
He twice came the closest to scoring during a first half that lacked much in goalmouth incident.
Firstly, he broke swiftly down the left before cutting in and arrowing a powerful shot at Mildenhall and then, in injury time, he forced a more capable save with a driven free-kick powered menacingly through the wall and towards the bottom corner.
While their lack of cutting edge was the biggest concern of the first period, with a close-range prod from Julian Bennett their only other real opportunity, any complaints were addressed within three minutes of the restart, as Holt took advantage of Mildenhall's slip.
Had his strike partner, Junior Agogo, shared his accuracy, Forest's success may have been more comfortable, but he twice headed wide from good opportunities.
Forest were indebted to Smith, who made several important saves, the most notable of which was an acrobatic, full-length stop to palm away a stinging, low drive from substitute Ishmael Welsh - who also lashed a half-chance over the bar in stoppage time.
Forest just about did enough to deserve their win.
In the past few weeks, after a dip in form over Christmas prompted justifiable doubts over their credentials, Forest have once more begun to perform in the manner of title favourites.
But, while it may not have been pleasing on the eye, it was the manner of their win on Saturday that should be more encouraging than their success over Charlton.
For the remainder of the campaign, it will be substance, rather than style that will decide Forest's fate.
Against Chelsea, Forest will have another chance to parade their talents.
Nottingham Evening Post
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