Fortress City Ground Now A Hard Place To Play
Billy Davies' resurgent Nottingham Forest slipped nicely into an automatic place in the Championship table, (albeit temporarily) with a 1-0 win over Middlesbrough and in the process created a new club record, of 9 consecutive home wins in the league. It may have been a bit of a dullfest for the neutral, but for the home fans it was further proof that this team might just have what it takes, to reach the Promised Land of the Premiership.
Both sides settled quickly, but it became evident from the start that both were determined not to be beaten. Tackles were flying in and the game was a stop start affair, littered with fouls. It wasn't a dirty game, but both teams were committed to their cause and no quarter was given.
Radoslaw Majewski had a chance to put the Reds' one up, following an excellently struck free kick. His curling shot, beat the wall and then the keeper, as it clipped the bar on the way out for a goal kick. The visitors were hoping to make use of their powerful attack, with McDonald and Aliadiere proving a real handful. But, credit must go to Wilson and Morgan at the back, who coped admirably with everything they threw at them. Apart from what seemed like an endless array of corners, 'Boro offered little in the way of threats on the Forest goal.
Despite the lack of clear cut goalscoring chances in the first half, it was Forest who should have gone in ahead at the break. Robert Earnshaw made the wrong decision when clear through on goal. Instead of tapping the ball either side of Coyne to put the Reds' one up, he went for a spectacular lob, which beat the keeper, but flew high over the bar.
This was a game in which both teams were cancelling the other out. Both managers will have been happy with the work rate and commitment on show, even if the quality was missing. At the break, it was anybody's game, but there was ever only going to be one goal in it.
The second half got underway with neither side able to get going. Once again the tackles flew in, but the tempo of the game was continually interrupted with fouls and free kicks. Both managers made the changes that would hopefully earn a breakthrough. Strachan sent on Lita and the first thing the striker did was to send a shot powering goalwards, that was just deflected by Perch for a corner. Forest thought they had taken the lead after Wilson tapped in from close range, sadly for him and the home crowd, he was adjudged to be standing offside when he hit the ball in.
Forest got the all important goal, from the best move of the game. 'Boro were on the attack, when we hit them on the break. Within seconds of being on the back foot, the ball was in the net. Wilson won the ball in his own half and knocked it on to Blackstock. The striker sent young Majewski on his way and he then found Cohen in acres of space, just inside the box, for him to sweetly hit the ball home. The goal lifted the tension in the crowd and won the game for the Reds'. As the game was drawing to a close, Forest thought they had a good claim for a penalty, when Anderson was felled in the box. Surprisingly, to me at least, the ref signalled no foul. There were 4 painful minutes of injury time to endure, as the visitors pressed for an equaliser. I was convinced they were going to get it as well, especially as another series of corners had us scrambling at the back. Fair play to the defence though in this one, because they were as solid as a rock all afternoon.
So the win takes us back up to 2nd and the promotion dream is still alive. I think our lack of numbers will count against us in the long run, but a couple of additions in the loan market, could well see that dream become a reality.
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