Forest Continue To Impress: Forest 2-1 Reading
Nottingham Forest climb to within 2 points of league leaders Newcastle and stretch the unbeaten run in the league to 18 matches, with another first half wonder show at the City Ground, to beat the Royals of Reading 2-1.
This was a game of two halves and one that should have seen the Reds' run out more convincing winners, than the 2-1 scoreline suggests. Although the visitors were clearly knackered from their midweek cup exploits over Liverpool, they did rally in the second half to give us a bit of a scare. But the first half display from the Reds', should have seen them out of sight by the half time whistle.
Forest settled early and went on the attack from the start. Just as against the Baggies, they went about tearing the opposition apart. Free flowing, passing football, was once again the order of the day. It's a joy to watch this team play at the moment, as they casually and nonchalantly, ping the ball around to each other, as if the opposition weren't there.
The opening goal came after only 11 mins and it was so characteristic of how we do things at present. Earnshaw picked the ball up just inside the visitors half and sent it into the path of the on rushing Cohen. The midfielder then went on a great run, that saw him beating the Royals defence for pace. As he was nearing the box, it looked that he was shaping himself up for a crack at goal, but he fed the ball to Anderson, who was in acres of space, to hit the ball into the net. Great football from Forest and there was so much more of it to come.
Reading were looking tired and were struggling to get into the game. They couldn't get the ball off Forest, who appeared to stroke it around at will. One beautiful move from the Reds', ended up with young Majewski being scythed on the edge of the box. The resulting free kick, was well set for a shot on goal, but he opted to send over a delicious cross into the box, that was well met by Blackstock. Unfortunately, his header was cleared by a defender on the line.
Paul Anderson was having alot of success down the left flank and often had the Reading defence chasing his shadow with his runs. One run, saw him chest the ball down to control it and fly past his man. A well delivered cross found Blackstock again, but his header went just wide. Earnshaw, who had been pretty quiet up until midway through the half, saw a great effort well saved by Federici. Cohen found Earnie in the box and his snapshot volley, brought out a decent save from the keeper. Both Cohen and Anderson, were instrumental in everything we did.
It was mesmerising stuff at times from the lads and greatly appreciated by the near 28,000 crowd. Just before the break, Forest extended their lead, with another well worked goal. Earnshaw and Majewski exchanged passes and once again got behind the Reading defence. Earnshaw was able to pick his spot and send the ball past the keeper to give the Reds' a deserved 2-0 lead. It should have been 3 at the break, but poor finishing from a Blackstock shot, saw his effort go wide, when a pass to the begging Earnshaw would have been the better option. Still, there were no complaints from the home crowd, after watching 45 minutes of the most sublime football you're ever likely to see.
Reading came out for the second half with more purpose and intent, whilst Forest appeared to be a little slow out of the blocks. Maybe it was complacency, maybe it was an improved Reading, but the Reds' were a shadow of their former selves in the second period. Lee Camp was forced into action, with two great saves from Thorvaldsson. The visitors were being allowed to come at us more and for the first time in the game, they began to look a threat. Wes and Wilson though, were coping well with what Reading had to dish out and were always there when called upon to tidy up at the back.
Reading were given a lifeline on 67 mins, when Shorey was shown red for bringing down Kebe in the box. From where I was in the Trent End, it looked a nailed on pen and an easy dismissal for referee Deadman to give. Lee Camp might not have had much to do in the 1st half, but he was earning his money in the 2nd. Substitute Howard, struck the penalty well enough, but it was at a nice height for Camp to dive full stretch to his left and make a good save. He was now the hero of the hour and he quite rightly milked it for all it was worth.
The visitors were given a sniff of getting back into the game, when in truth the result should have been a formality for Forest. Although there were a few scares in the 2nd half, to set the nerves on edge, there was never any real chance of the Royals getting back into the game. Despite a more spirited performance from the visitors, the home side were still in second gear. You knew that if it came to it, they would just step it up and sweep the threat aside.
Some 4 minutes of injury time were awarded and it was enough for the Royals to get a consolation goal. It was a sloppy goal from a Reds' perspective, as Howard went unchallenged on the edge of the box and was able to pick out Kebe, who appeared to have even more time in putting the ball past Camp. The keeper was predictably given the Man of the Match award for his 2nd half heroics and no one will begrudge him it. He's in a fine run of form at the moment and long may it continue, but there were other notable displays on show today and from players who have been given short thrift by me in the past. Cohen, Wilson and Morgan are in the form of their Forest careers at the moment and are clearly lovin' life, under the coaching and stewardship from Billy Davies and his team.
When the final whistle blew, there was a slight sense of relief from the crowd. It shouldn't have been so close, but the result was just reward for some outstanding 1st half football. We now sit firmly placed in 2nd spot in the table and have the Geordies in our sights. They now have good reason to be looking over their shoulders, with us breathing down their necks. Next up, it`s the visit of QPR and you wouldn't fancy their chances, if we carry on performing the way we are now.
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