Forest 1-0 Barcodes: Match Report
The phrase 'a game of two halves' would sum this one up aptly, but wouldn't do justice to a first half display from Forest, that saw them dish out a football lesson to the league leaders and the Geordie Nation. Newcastle United rolled into town with all the pomp and swagger of a Premiership club, but at the end of the day, left with nowt.
A crowd of just over 29,000 crammed into the City Ground, with a healthy and vocal 4,000 coming from Newcastle and Cotgrave. The return of Messrs Calderwood and Harewood, infront of the Sky TV cameras, ensured that all the ingredients were in place for a rip roaring game. It didn't disappoint.
Billy Davies opted for Wilson and Morgan at the heart of defence and the return of Cohen to left back. It seemed like a recipe for disaster on paper, but in fairness all came through the game with credit. Wes Morgan was my man of the match and managed to keep Marlon Harewood quiet for most of the game. Moussi and McKenna were paired together in central midfield, but unlike the Blackpoool defeat, they ran the show. Moussi also came in handy at the back, when at set pieces he was charged with halting the bullyboy tactics of Carroll in the 6 yard box.
Dexter Blackstock thought he'd given the Reds' the lead, as early as the 3rd min. He rose above the visitors defence, but his goalbound header was well saved by keeper Steve Harper. Forest settled early and stroked the ball round well. Moussi and McKenna in midfield were winning every tackle and were instrumental in everything we did. Young Majewski delivered a delightful ball into the box, that once again saw Blackstock beat the Magpies defence, but his bullet of a header struck the post.
Newcastle did turn up though and could have had a goal themselves midway through the half. What looked like a harmless and speculative ball into the box was ignored by the Forest defence and even keeper Camp. Fortunately for us, the ball hit the post and bounced into the keepers arms and safety.
Both Anderson and Tyson on the wings, were causing problems with their pace. One move saw Tyson hit a cross field ball over to Anderson, whose control was sublime. He brought the ball down with the skill of a Brazillian and then went onto to knock the ball past his man to set us on our way again. He ended the run with a great shot that deserved more, but his effort was once again well saved by Harper in the Newcastle goal. The City Ground atmosphere was building up nicely and the crowd got behind the lads in an effort to get the opening goal.
The lead that Forest were searching for couldn't have come at a better time. The clock was showing 45 mins, when Majewski delivered one of his defence splitting passes that was superbly timed by Blackstock. He ran onto the pass and tapped the ball passed the onrushing Harper and into the net. The ball seemed to take an age in crossing the line, but it eventually did and the Reds' went deservedly into the break 1 up.
If the first half was all Forest, then the second was all United. The visitors came out a different side and went in search of the equaliser from the start. As the Reds' were being forced to play deeper and deeper in their own half of the pitch, the midfield was being overrun. Moussi and McKenna became bystanders and couldn't impose themselves in the same way they did in the first half. Former Man Utd player Alan Smith began to impose himself on the game in more ways than one. He was now the dominant force in the middle of the park and he was also the one trying to make up referee Taylors' mind for him. Forest were all over the place and every decision seemed to be going against us.
The one decision that did go our way, was probably the most contentious of the game. Kevin Nolan looked to have drawn the visitors level, but was adjudged to have been off side. I haven't seen the TV footage yet, but it was said by others who had a better view, that it was 'tight.' That'll do for me.
Despite a second half onslaught by Newcastle, our usually fragile defence was performing well. Cohen looked assured at left back and even Wilson was coping well with the troublesome Carroll. Wilson's task against the lanky striker was aided and abetted by the Newcastle targetman's inability to head a ball to save his life. The visitors waged war on the Forest goal, but were held back by some last ditch defending and a spirited Forest resolve. Even 4 mins of injury time couldn't help out the Magpies, as Forest deservedly ran out winners, to knock Newcastle off the top of the table and to push the Reds' up to the dizzy heights of 7th.