The Great Escape: Forest 2-2 Leicester
Nottingham Forest somehow managed to pull off the great escape yesterday, in the 2-2 draw with wannabe rivals Leicester City at the City Ground. Neither side were convincing or deserving enough to take all 3 points, in fact, neither were truly deserving of a point, but hey ho…..that`s what they got.
It`s only 4 games into the new campaign, but for both Forest and City, it`s fair to say that the blue touch paper has yet to be lit on their season. The matches weren`t coming out in this game because it was as dour and lacklustre as they come in terms of free flowing football and for the 24,000 crowd it was a real struggle at times. The first 15 minutes passed by without incident, as both teams played sideways balls in an effort to retain possession.
It was the visitors who had the first chance on goal from a corner, as Dave Nugent forced a good save out of Camp with a header. Camp was called into action again moments later, when a Bamba shot from the edge of the box was parried away for a corner. Not for the first time this season, the Forest defence was looking decidedly shaky and a shadow of the solid and reliable unit we saw so regularly for most of the last campaign.
It was a comedy of errors and a combination of a midfield/defensive mix up that led to City taking the lead. Jonathan Greening will have nightmares when replaying his attempted square ball to Luke Chambers from just inside his own half, that gifted Leicester the lead. Chambers could do little to control the ball, but his inability to remain on his feet made it the easiest of tasks for Gelson Fernandes to break clear and set up Dave Nugent for the simplest of tap-ins. 1-0 to the visitors and it was to get much worse.
City were now camped in the Forest half, with the Reds` seemingly powerless to push out. Three minutes after being gifted with the opener, the Forest defence once again gift wrapped the ball for the visitors, enabling them to double their lead. A dreadful misplaced pass by Chambers in the middle of the park, was gratefully received by Danns. He charged forward and let loose with a decent shot that was saved on the line by a well placed Gunter. Unfortunately for the Reds` defender, the ball deflected into the path of Fernandes, who had an easy tap-in to put the visitors 2 up.
The only threat Forest posed on the City goal in the opening 45 minutes, was a header from new boy Matty Derbyshire. Gunter played a delightful ball into the centre of the box, that was met by an unmarked Derbyshire, who had the goal at his mercy. From the opposite end of the ground, I thought the striker should have at least hit the target, but the ball skimmed off his head and went harmlessly wide and out for a goal kick. By the time Mr. Moss blew his whistle for half time, it was greeted with boos from several sections of the home crowd.
Once again, Forest were bereft of creativity and of any idea of how to get the ball moving forward. At least the restart saw a positive change from manager Steve McClaren, with the introduction of Miller and Findley, for McGoldrick and Derbyshire. I can`t remember a single shot on target from the first half, or any real threat posed on the City goal. That suggests to me that the problems we`re facing in terms of creating goal scoring chances, lie a little further behind the attack and squarely at the feet of the midfield. Add to this our total lack of width and you can see why we are creating so few chances in front of goal.
Anyway, the introduction of Miller gave the midfield an outlet and someone for Morgan and Chambers to hoof the ball up to. He`s a big fella is Miller and you can see him becoming a problem for many a Championship defence. Findley also proved a worthy addition when he came on and it did give us the chance to run at the City defence, due to his pace and desire to get forward. These two did indeed have a positive impact for Forest, but none more so, than when Majewski came on for Moloney on 65 minutes. No disrespect to Moloney, who had a reasonable game, but Forest now looked a little more balanced with Gunter resuming his normal position at right back.
It took almost 70 minutes for the home side to register their first shot on target and it came following some neat work between Findley and Miller. Findley fired off a shot to awaken Schmeichel from his slumber, who parried the ball into the path of the on rushing striker, only for him to hit the ball over for a goal kick.
Forest were now at least playing with some sense of urgency and this was noted by the fans who did their best to make themselves heard for the first time in the game. Miller was also proving to be a bit of a nuisance for the City defence and his hustling and bustling in the box had them worried on a few occasions. We got a slightly fortuitous break in the 79th minute, after Matt Mills was adjudged to have handled inside the box. The City defender went down after a challenge and his hand appeared to make contact with the ball. Whilst he definitely touched the ball with his hand, it was clearly accidental and we duly accepted the penalty. The penalty was well struck by Lewis McGugan, who hit an unstoppable shot passed a diving Schmeichel. The keeper was booked for arguing just before the penalty was taken, as was Matt Mills. The keeper then picked up a second booking after the goal was scored, for throwing the ball away in protest. The referee had no other option but to send Schmeichel off, much to the bemusement of the player and the rest of the City squad.
Weale came on for the Dane, to chants of "dodgy keeper" from the crowd and as Forest began to lay siege on the City goal, Wes Morgan was sent forward to add weight to the Forest attack. City were now for the first time in the game getting pressed and looked like they could cave in at any time. The crowd urged their team forward in an effort to get the equaliser and they responded by piling forward in numbers. It took until the final minute of injury time for the equaliser to come and when it did it was from a typically scrappy build up and scramble for the ball inside the City box. Chris Cohen delivered a ball into the box that was bouncing all over the place and wasn`t cleared by the City defence. Amongst the crowd of bodies all scrambling to get a foot to the ball, it was George Boateng who was adjudged to have made the final contact with the ball, as it landed in the City net. The home crowd went understandably mental, as the City fans and players held their heads in disbelief.
2-2 was a strange scoreline and masks the fact that this was a truly awful display from both sides on the day. Forest and Leicester will hope for better over the coming weeks and will probably put their slow starts to the season down to not yet having gelled and not yet having found their feet.
Forest: Camp, Moloney (Majewski 65mins), Morgan, Chambers(C), Gunter, Greening, Cohen, Boateng, McGugan, McGoldrick(Miller 45minHT), Derbyshire(Findley 45minHT)
Subs not used: Smith, Lynch
Scorers: McGugan pen 79min, Boateng 90+4min
Leicester: Schmeichel, Konchesky, Pantsil, Mills(C), Bamba, King(Abe 84min), Vassell, Wellens, Danns(Weale 80min), Fernandes, Nugent (Gallagher 64mins)
Subs not used: St Ledger, Schlupp
Bookings: Mills 78min, Schmeichel 78,79min RED CARD
Scorers: Nugent 18min, Fernandes 21min