Date:Friday May 13 2011
The morning after the night before and I`m feeling a little (if not a lot) more confident about our chances of progressing to Wembley than I was in the immediate aftermath of last nights game. It was a great opportunity missed and the Swans have taken the upper hand into the 2nd leg of this semi final Playoff encounter, but we are still very much in this game and if we can play to our capabilities at the Liberty, then anything can happen.
Forest went into the game without midfielder Guy Moussi, who has apparently picked up yet another injury. I don`t know how serious it is, or if as I hope, he is being saved for the 2nd leg in Wales. The fact is, his battling qualities were missing last night, as was his ability to stifle the oppositions attack and deliver a ball to a Red shirt. Striker Robert Earnshaw was the other change that Davies made, replacing him for Marcus Tudgay.
Within the first minute of the game it looked like the Gods were going to smile on us for once, as Swansea were reduced to 10 men, when Neil Taylor was issued with a straight red for a tackle on Lewis McGugan. Instead, they were just toying with us and putting us through our now all too familiar Playoff torture. Now I didn't have the greatest of views from the Trent End, but the TV replays later showed that Taylor had gone in with his studs showing and although it also showed that McGugan made a meal of it, the player had to go according to the laws of the game. The referees decision was probably made easier, by a partisan crowd, baying for the players blood. Referee Mike Dean duly granted the crowds wish and dismissed Taylor without hesitation. The dismissal was greeted with much leaping, whooping and cheering, as if we`d just scored a goal. In Fact many of the late comers, came to their seats in the belief that we were actually a goal to the good. Still, playing against 10 men for 89 minutes has to be the next best thing right? Well not in the life of a Forest fan it isn't.
Losing a man in the first minute of the game could have rocked the Swans and dealt them a blow that they could never recover from, but it merely served (as it often does) to give them a greater resolve to get a result. An expectant crowd roared the players on and got behind them from the start, but the Red shirts refused the pleas from the fans to attack and take advantage of the extra man. Swansea didn't sit back like we hoped they would, they instead played some pretty neat football and made the home side work hard. It was the visitors who settled quickest and were soon finding ways to get behind the Forest defence. Rangel and then Borini had shots on goal, but fortunately for the Reds`, neither caused too much trouble. The best chance of the half fell to the visitors, when they were awarded a free kick just outside the box. Borini hit a well struck shot that cleared the wall and forced a good save from Camp, who had to dive upwards to tip the ball out for a corner.
Forest were making hard work of this and it took over half an hour for them to have their first shot at goal. It came from a fierce shot from Earnshaw, but it was well saved by De Vries. That was about the only real chance of a disappointing half from the home side, who were outfought in the middle of the park and had no idea of how to get through the wall of a Swansea defence.
Forest started the 2nd half in a more determined fashion and if Swansea had the better of the 1st half, then Forest were to have the better of the 2nd. Within minutes of the restart, McGugan blasted a shot goal wards, that rebounded off De Vries and agonisingly close to the onrushing Boyd. Unfortunately for the Reds` striker, the ball went the wrong side of him and he couldn't position himself to make a connection with it. A promising start from the home side, who were being urged forward by the fans.
Swansea were dealt another blow in the early stages of the half, when the influential Borini went off injured and was replaced by Luke Moore. I wasn't sorry to see the back of him, because he was wreaking havoc all over the park. Forest continued to pile on the pressure, but were finding it hard to break the visitors down. I suppose we have to give credit and say fair play to the Swans, who never seemed to tire and stuck to their tasks well.
The Reds` were denied what I thought was a stonewall penalty midway through the half, after a Cohen cross/shot hit the arm of Tait. The City Ground rose from their seats and stared in disbelief as referee Dean waved play on. The result of the ball hitting Tait`s arm, was for it to go out for a corner. McGugan sent over a decent ball, that was flicked on by Boyd. His glancing header ambled tantalisingly across the goal line, when Earnshaw pounced with a diving header to put it into the net. Unbelievably, the linesman flagged for offside, much to the disgust of the City Ground crowd, but as it later showed on TV, the decision was correct.
Swansea were on the back foot at times during the second half, but they did have their chances and were still posing a threat. The main threat for the Swans on the night came from Nathan Dyer, who was a menace for the Reds` defence throughout. He forced a good save from Camp, when his fierce shot was heading for goal, but fortunately for us, Camp was alert and was able to get both hands on the ball.
After 72 minutes and the game still at 0-0, Davies decided to ring the changes and made a double substitution. On came Tyson and McCleary and off went Earnie and McKenna. Soon after Tudgay would replace the hard working Boyd, who was tiring towards the end. Positive changes from the manager, as the Reds` went in search of a goal.
In the latter stages of the game, Forest should have taken the lead. Another well delivered cross from Cohen was dispatched into the box and towards the far post. Tyson found himself with the goal at his mercy and as he went into head the ball…….it somehow flew straight past him. It was another in a long bloody catalogue of glaring misses that this striker has made. His commitment and passion should never be in doubt, but his ability in front of goal unfortunately can.
When the final whistle blew, it was a disappointing exit from the ground for the Forest faithful, who could only watch the Swans fans celebrate as if they had won. It`s not over yet by a long way and the fat lady is far from bursting into song, but it will be a tough ask from the lads, to get a result in Swansea, where they are so strong on home soil. It`s only half time and we are still very much in it. Thursday was tense, but God only knows what Monday is going to be like. Keep the faith.
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Date:Friday May 13 2011
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