Forest Go 2nd After The Gun Show Downs Bluebirds
After the disappointment of the midweek defeat at Scunthorpe, it was important that Forest got something from this game at home to Cardiff, who were occupying 2nd place in the table prior to kick off. So great credit must be given to the manager and players, for putting in a performance that firmly puts the defeat at Scunthorpe well and truly in the dim and distant past. Forest did indeed get something out of the game, as they deservedly took all 3 points and moved into the 2nd automatic promotion place in the process.
Cardiff lined up without one of their star (temporary) loan signings, Aaron Ramsey, who had apparently failed a fitness test before the game. Also missing from action was one of their main goal threats in Michael Chopra. He was replaced by Jon Parkin, a player who looked more out of condition than any you're likely to see dragging well over 13 stone around a football pitch. That was the good news for us, but they still had the likes of Whittingham, Bellamy, Emmanuel-Thomas, Koumas and Olofinjana within their ranks. Billy Davies made just one change to the side that lost 1-0 at Scunny, with Anderson replacing Tyson on the wing. That was a move that would pay dividends as the game went on, with Ando having one of his best games to date in a Forest shirt.
Their was a good atmosphere inside the City Ground, with the crowd roaring the lads on from the start. There was a healthy following from Wales too, but they were pretty much subdued for long spells of this match, much like their boys on the pitch. With barely 5 mins gone, Forest had the ball in the net, but it was correctly adjudged to have been off, even though the linesman took an age to put up his flag to signal that Anderson`s delightful through ball to Earnie had found him standing offside.
Craig Bellamy brought a good save out of Camp on 10 mins, when his long range effort forced the keeper to dive at full stretch and tip the ball out for a corner. Moments later, Jay Bothroyd missed an absolute sitter for the visitors, when he found himself alone in the box with only Camp to beat. The striker took too much time on the ball and allowed Camp to come out and smother the ball at his feet. Another corner for the Bluebirds saw Konchesky heading off the line, as the visitors began to look like taking control of the game.
Fair play to the lads, because after getting away with a couple of warning shots, they then took control of the game and began to make threats of their own. Tudgay went close with a header that only just cleared the bar and Cohen saw a shot go just over as well, as the Reds` turned up the heat. It was a fairly open ended game, with both sides playing with pace. Forest got the vital breakthrough on the half hour mark, when a well delivered corner from McGugan was met by Wes Morgan in the box. Morgan headed powerfully into the net from just 6 yards out, to give the home side a deserved lead that we would take into the break.
The visitors began the second half with a more physical approach to the game. Several tough challenges had the fans off their seats, but referee Moss seemed reluctant to show any cards. Tudgay won a free kick after one nasty challenge from Keinan yet again failed to earn a booking from Moss. The resultant free kick from McGugan, saw his 25 yard shot go narrowly wide of the post. It took the ref nearly an hour and only after a series of bad tackles for him to issue the first of his 3 cards to the Cardiff team. Seyi Olofinjana was the first to see yellow, much to the delight of the City Ground crowd, who gave the on loan player from Hull a tough afternoon, for that awful tackle on Dex earlier in the season that put him out of action for the entire campaign.
The most contentious moment of the game, resulted in the Bluebirds drawing level. A penalty was awarded for what looked like a fair challenge by McKenna. Hard to give an honest opinion from the Trent End, but from my viewpoint, it looked like McKenna won the ball and the Cardiff striker (Bothroyd I think) fell over. TV replays will show what really happened, but most opinions I`ve heard so far suggest the ref got it wrong. The kick saw Whittingham step up and send Camp the wrong way and pull the score back to 1-1 and set us all up for a nervous end to the game.
It wasn`t to be a nervous finish to the game though, because although the equaliser gave the visitors a momentary lift and encouraged them to have a go, they were soon on the back foot again, as Forest once again took control of the game. Both teams made changes, with Jay Emmanuel-Thomas coming on for Cardiff and Tyson and McGoldrick coming on for the Reds`. JET almost put the Bluebirds in front, after his shot was saved by the legs of Lee Camp.
The winning goal came from none other than former Cardiff man Robert Earnshaw. Another bad challenge on McGugan gave us a free kick just outside the box. Anderson picked out Earnshaw, who had a lot of work to do in slotting it past Heaton in the visitors goal, to give the Reds the lead once again. The Gun Show spared the visitors his customary celebration and left that to the home fans to revel in the moment. Forest should have put the game out of sight, when shortly after coming on Tyson made what could have proved a costly mistake. He won the ball in the middle of the park and broke free of the Cardiff defence. He had McGoldrick and McGugan to his left, with both in clear goalscoring positions. Instead of squaring the ball to either player inside the box, he opted to shoot. Unfortunately for Tyson, his well driven shot was saved by Heaton, much to the dismay of his team mates and the City Ground crowd too.
Four minutes of injury time passed in fairly uneventful fashion, with Forest running down the clock well and retaining possession. The final whistle brought about great cheers from the crowd and a fair amount of celebrating from the players as well. As the scores were coming in from other games, it became clear that this was a massive win for the team and one that now sees us as genuine promotion contenders. No doubt Cardiff boss Dave Jones will be telling the press how his boys were hard done by and that they should have won the game, but don`t believe a word of it. His boyos were well and truly beaten by a much better team. Well done Forest, it was a well deserved win.