Date:Saturday March 27 2010
sportsdirect.com @ St James' Park Stadium
Forest travel to the woefully named (for this season anyway) sportsdirect.com @ St James' Park Stadium on Monday, to take on table toppers Newcastle United. Despite having a team that was piss poor in the Premiership last year, they have been more than a match for us in the Championship this season and have been riding high at the top of the table since September. Manager Chris Hughton and former Red Colin Calderwood, have teamed up well to make the Geordies the promotion favourites in the division.
Whilst Forest failed to strengthen in the January transfer window, the Geordies were busy recruiting no less than 6 new faces, including Wayne Routledge, Patrick Van Aanholt and Leon Best. They were also rumoured to be after our very own James Perch, but failed with a reported £1.5m bid, described by boss Billy Davies at the time as 'derisory.'
When the two teams met at the City Ground in October, it's fair to say we battered 'em! At least we did for the first 45 minutes, when a Dexter Blackstock goal, on the stroke of half time, took us in 1-0 up at the break. The 2nd half saw the Geordies fight back, but we managed to hold out and take the points.
Newcastle are roaring their way to the title and sit a comfortable 10 points ahead of the Reds', with only 8 games for them left to play. Whilst the Playoffs look an almost certainty for us, it would be nice to spoil the eventual promotion party on Tyneside, for a week or two longer at least. However, our current away form suggests that the Geordies might only need 3 more wins to do it after this one, especially as they remain unbeaten at home. This fixture will be close to a sellout and Forest have sold out their allocation for the game. The club is advising Forest fans without tickets, not to travel.
Steven Taylor will definitely be out for the rest of the season, with a knee injury and sore jaw! Alan Smith is a doubt, due to an ankle injury, but are hopeful of naming Ameobi, Lovenkrands and Williamson.
Andy Carroll grabs all the headlines and not always for the right reasons and with 16 goals to his name already this season, he will have to be watched. Midfielder Kevin Nolan is the one that makes them tick though and if we can keep him quiet like we did in the first half at the City Ground, we might have a chance. Without our Paul McKenna to stop him in his tracks, that's going to be one helluva task.
Defender James Perch is said to be recovering well from his ankle injury, but this game might come too soon for his return. Captain Paul McKenna and Julian Bennett will still be missing, but there could be a recall for Joel Lynch, who has recovered from his thigh problem.
He's getting back to his best now and regaining the form that made him the find of the season in the Championship.
The two teams have met a total of 87 times in the League, with the Geordies having the better results. Forest have won 26, lost 41 and drawn 20. Last time we played them away, was back in 1998, when an Alan Shearer brace won them the game.
Our dreadful away run has to end sometime. So ever the optimist...I'll go for a 1-1.
Sat, April 3. Bristol City (a). KO:3pm
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Date:Saturday March 27 2010
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