2007 Ends As It Started - Badly
The year ends exactly as it started with Forest suffering humiliating defeat. The first game of what has been an indifferent year for the Reds, started with a 5-0 pasting at Oldham and ended with a 3-0 thumping at Gillingham.
As expected and promised, Gillingham would not be the whipping boys they were when we played them at the City Ground and won 4-0. Since new kid on the block Mark Stimson took charge, he has managed to breathe life into the Kent side, just as it looked like they were dead and buried.
They took control of the early stages of the game, as you'd expect the home side to do. It was a cagey start, with the Gills doing better and running things in midfield. Forest were to have the first chance though, when the ball fell to Commons on the edge of the box. His shot was deflected by the defender King. Almost straight away the Gills could have taken the lead, when Mulligan's shot was deflected for a corner. From the edge of the box, Cross met the ball but hit his shot well wide of the target.
Forest were sounding as though they were beginning to get into it after 15 mins or so, with some neat passing, but as has become the norm in recent weeks we were guilty once again of giving the ball away too easily. Sammy Clingan had a great chance to open the scoring when a well timed pass from Cohen found him on the edge. His foot hit the ground as he struck the ball and it went high and wide. He should have done better.
Moments later Clingan did well to pounce on a Southall mistake, but his shot was well saved by Royce. Wilson was next up to shoot over the bar, this time from 6 yards. Again he should have done better. Forest sounded as though they were taking control and you were led to believe that a goal for the Reds would not be long in coming. But the Gills were not there for the taking and were hitting us on the break. Mulligan forced a good save from Smith after a throw in found him unmarked.
Royce denied Holt with a great save. A scramble in the area saw Commons hit an overhead that was going wide. The ball found Holt, who forced a reaction save from the impressive Gills keeper. Immediately after the Gills were on the attack and it ended with Mulligan shooting wide.
The first half ended with the Reds possibly feeling as though they should be in front. But as it turned out, the missed chances would cost them dearly.
Within seconds of the restart Forest had a free kick just inside the Gills half. The long ball from Morgan went to Commons. He sent in a decent cross that was headed just over by Breckin. The Gills hit the Reds on the break again and made us pay. Smith did well to palm away a shot, but it ended up in the path Of Mulligan who tapped the ball in and gave the home side the lead.
Forest had another chance go begging when Royce saved another shot, this time from Cohen. Calderwood will no doubt say his side played well, but they were guilty of missing a host of chances and you don't win if you don't score. Disaster struck in the 61st minute, when Miller hit a great shot from the edge of the box to make it 2-0 and game over.
It was the turn of Agogo to next miss for the Reds. From 8 yards he shot wide, when he should have at least hit the target. Soon after he was guilty again when he headed a Commons cross wide. Another Gills attack saw Smith forced to make a good save from Griffiths. The Gills were now playing well and making the league positions of the two sides look laughable.
Agogo then messed up the good work of Chambers and substitute Thornhill when he hit yet another shot wide of the target. Then,just to compound matters Wilson makes a woefully short back header to Smith. Griffiths pounces on the defensive error and makes it 3-0 to Gillingham and brings to an end a humiliating day for the Reds. They were applauded off by the 1,700 travelling faithful, which sounded more than they deserved from what I had learned.
I haven't heard CC's post match comments yet, but I hope he has some explanations for the unusual defensive shape of the side. We had four centre halves in a four man defence. Wilson sounded as though he was playing in at least two of those positions. Holt is an enigma on the wing, why does the manager insist on playing him there? You can not deny that this side has made many improvements on the one that let the supporters down so badly last year. But performances like this show that we are a long way off from the finished article. Fair play to Gillingham. They showed us how to take your chances and were deserved winners. If we have serious aspirations to get out of this league, then we have to be more clinical in front of goal. If that means we need a new strikeforce, then so be it. Get your cheque book out Mr. Doughty.