Forest Get Back On Track
Nottingham Forest got back to winning ways with a hard fought, nervous and at times scrappy 2-1 win over the Wendies of Sheffield. The Reds' showed true grit, character and determination, to seal the points at an almost sell out City Ground.
It was the visitors who settled quickest and roared on by almost 4,000 travelling fans, set about making life very difficult for the Reds'. The Owls were in a good run of form before this game, having won 4 of their last 5 games. They weren't going to be a pushover and came to give Forest a game. They got the better of the early exchanges, winning the ball in the middle of the park and passing it around well. The first real chance of the game fell to the visitors, when Varney forced a save out of Camp. His rather tame effort should have been struck better though, as it was an easy save for the keeper to make.
Forest soon realised they were going to have to scrap to compete in the match and began to get a hold on the game. It wasn't an overly physical affair, but the tackles were flying in good and hard and what the game lacked in quality, was more than made up for by physical effort and endeavour from both teams.
The Reds' got a lucky break on 23 mins, when referee Trevor Kettle gave us a penalty. For me, it was the clearest case of ball to hand, you are ever likely to see, but Mr. Kettle had no hesitation in pointing to the spot. Dexter Blackstock saw his fiercely hit shot strike the arm of Owls defender Darren Purse, much to the bemusement of the visiting players and support. Blackstock struck the penalty well and gave Grant no chance as it rifled into the top of the net.
The visitors were along way from beaten and threatened to pull the deficit back. But, despite having the lions share of possession, they had very little upfront to trouble the Reds'. They seemed content to pump high balls into the box, which Camp duly collected with ease. Forest could have doubled the lead just before the break, after Cohen was scythed down on the edge of the box. Earnshaw's free kick was nicely hit, as it curled round the wall and forced a decent save from Grant.
Forest gratefully took their 1-0 lead into the break, with both teams taking a well earned rest. It was a tough old battle out there, with both sides wanting the win. Fair play to the lads today though, because they were showing they can do the ugly stuff as well. It wasn't very pretty, but they were rolling up their sleeves and getting stuck in.
The second half was much the same as the first and it was the visitors who had the first chance to draw level. A wickedly deflected free kick, saw Camp side step away from the ball. Fortunately for us, the ball struck the bar and bounced out for a corner to the Owls. As the tackles once again flew in, both teams were finding the going tough. Although it was untidy at times, the tension was mounting as the game went on. It felt as though we were only hanging onto the lead, as the Wendies went in search of the equaliser. The visitors were pushing us hard and at times we were being run ragged at the back. Morgan and Wilson were having to make last ditch tackles in the box and Camp was on more than one occasion having to punch the ball away to safety, to keep the Owls at bay.
It seemed as though an equaliser was inevitable, as the lads hung onto the lead. It was real edge of the seat stuff, with the ball being scrambled away from the goal with increasing regularity. It took until the 73rd minute for the visitors to draw level and it came from a goal mouth scramble, that saw Varney tap the ball home and send the visiting hoards into raptures. This was a hammer blow to the Reds' and the danger now, was that the visitors would go on and take the points. The game became even more frantic than it was before. Credit to the Owls for not allowing us to play our passing game, but credit as well to Forest, who matched them for endeavour today. Unlike previous Forest teams, the heads didn't drop. Instead they stood up to be counted and battled to stay in the game. Things were not helped by the ref, who was something of a let down to say the least for both teams. He was getting too many decisions wrong and just wouldn't let the game flow.
Forest were having to dig deep and were being pushed hard by a resolute Wednesday. The tension was palpable, with both sets of supporters trying to shout their team home. Neither side were settling for the draw, as they both went in search of the winner. The all important and decisive goal, came after only 7 minutes of the visitors drawing themselves level. It was another goal mouth scramble, that saw Blackstock needing two chances to slot the ball over the line. When the ball did eventually go in, it sent the home fans wild and with it, a huge sigh of relief went around the ground.
This was an important win for the lads, especially after the disappointment of the Derby affair and showed that they can win ugly and grind out a result when they are called upon. They fought hard for the points and battled in a way that has been lacking from so many Forest teams in previous years. They worked hard for each other and clearly have a spirit and character that should hold them in good stead for the remainder of the season. Neither side were helped by some shocking refereeing, but it's the Reds' who come out on top to put the promotion dream back on track.