Date:Sunday April 1 2007
Well what a day. The sun shining over the Clifton suspension Bridge, hopes high for a Forest victory and the bus lane empty for the Forest masses to make their way to Ashton Gate. Somehow I knew things were going to be a bit strange when I got off the bus to be confronted by loads of Bristol coppers in riot gear - and no I am not joking! Most of the fans went directly to the ground and were sat in the away end over an hour before kick-off. I have been to Ashton gate a couple of times and it is still a dump despite being - and I quote "the best stadium in the west country".
This game will, I fear, decide our season. Despite what the manager says, City were the better side for most of the game and being fair to them, they should have won. Grant did the business in the 5th minute after some great work and a good cross from Commo, but the busier of the keepers was smithy and it was a fair reward for their domination when they scored. We did have our moments and maybe could and should have done better on a couple of occasions.
The second half continued pretty much where the first left off with City in the ascendance and Forest playing on the counter. Jack was replaced - much to the annoyance of some parts of the crowd - but to be fair I don`t think he was doing much and the introduction of Prutton did make a difference in the bite of our midfield and a little more attacking momentum. The one thing that did stand out was our lack of competitiveness at the breakdown of play. Far too often the ball was cleared or lost by a player and a City player was the first to the ball. CC did show his passion today, I think for the first time, mid-way through the half he screwed up his jacket and launched it at the dugout and went on a rant at several players - this seemed to have the desired affect and Forest started to create more. Commo should have done better with a couple of free kicks, Grant should have done better with a cross with Nathan, who had replaced McGugan, free in the box. The last 10 minutes saw concerted attacks from the mighty Forest and had Wes been a striker we could have nicked the points late on when he got the ball tangled under his feet when only a couple of yards out.
I have spent far too much time slating refs and linesmen in this league and today`s officials showed all too often how bad they can be. Grant was the recipient of a blatant drag down which the linesman missed despite being 2 yards away and when a center half rugby tackled Grant in the box, somehow a goal kick was given when a penalty was obvious. I lost count at the amount of times the city center forward climbed, backed into and otherwise fouled Brecks and Chambers but 99% of the decisions went against them. I am sure the ref and his team tried their best but I am afraid to say, again, that their best is not good enough when you consider the potential financial implications of results this late in the season.
Coming home, with time to reflect on the game, I am happy enough, but with only a few games to go and trips to Milwall, Orient and Brentford to come, we cannot afford to drop anymore points or we are destined to face the lottery of the play offs - but that could be our only hope of promotion. I would have been elated at 3 points but it would have been points stolen rather than earned, but at this stage of the season who cares.
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