Forest v Northampton.
10 February, 2007
Forest deservedly took the spoils today in what was effectively their game in hand over the mornings League leaders Scunthorpe, after their game at Crewe was postponed. The Reds now sit nicely placed, just two points behind the Iron.
Calderwood opted for Dobie and Holt up front, with Lester behind the front two in a surprise line up that saw Gary Holt keep his place in midfield. There was a welcome return to the City Ground for David Prutton, who demonstrated his quality throughout the game in a commanding performance. Although the game was by no means a masterclass, there were at times some free flowing and passing football played by The Reds.
The Cobblers set out their gameplan from the start, with a style of play that was to try and stifle and frustrate Forest with as many men behind the ball as possible. Forest dominated the first half and should have had the game out of sight by the half time whistle. The first chance fell to Grant Holt who was found free in the box by a Perch cross, but his header went just wide of the post. David Prutton almost made it a dream debut with a twenty five yard screamer that hit the post and ricocheted off Bunn for a corner. Perch took the corner that saw Morgan beat everyone with a header that was cleared off the line by new boy Deuchar. Town's best effort of the half came from a Bradley Johnson shot that went harmlessly over the bar.
The fans for some reason saw fit to boo the team off at half time, probably to the bemusement of Calderwood. The manager would readily admit this was by no means a vintage performance, it was in no way deserving of the boos coming from a section of the crowd.
The second half saw The Cobblers come out of their shell somewhat and were a little more inventive and adventurous with their play. Jack Lester who had been a thorn in the Northampton defence came close to putting Forest in front when he turned on a sixpence inside the box, but saw his shot well saved from Bunn. Bennett also went close with an effort that went wide.
The patience that Forest were having to show was rewarded in the 66th minute when a Perch free kick was met by Julian Bennett, who headed home from all of four yards. The sense of relief around the City Ground was palpable as the crowd got behind the team. Northampton had their chances though, as Forest could not put the game beyond their reach. The most bizarre moment of the game came with only minutes to go, when right on the touchline, in front of the fourth official, Aiston saw fit to grab Bennett in a headlock and try to wrestle him to the ground. For what seemed like an automatic red for the Cobbler, the ref, Mr. Bates, gave both players a yellow.
The final minutes of the match became a predictably tense affair, with Northampton looking for the equaliser. Lester was booked for an untimely challenge on the edge of the box, but fortunately the free kick was cleared. Kris Commons was brought on as a late replacement for Lester as The Reds managed to hold out for the win.
As said, this was not Forest at their best, but there was enough on show today to suggest they may be genuine promotion candidates. Hopefully this sees an end to our recent poor run of results, as the business end of the season gets underway. This will go down as an important three points for Forest and Calderwood as he usually does, will be able to take many positives out of the game. Next week they are away to lowly Brighton, for another must win game.
Forest: Smith, Bennett, Curtis, Breckin, Morgan, Perch, Gary Holt, Prutton, Lester (Commons 88), Grant Holt (Agogo 75), Dobie (Tyson 54).
Subs Not Used: Pedersen, McGugan.
Booked: Lester, Bennett.
Goals: Bennett 66.
Northampton: Bunn, Holt, Hughes, Pearce, Crowe, Bradley Johnson, Taylor, Laird (Gilligan 64), Aiston, Deuchar, Kirk (Jess 73).
Subs Not Used: Dunn, Hunt, May.
Booked: Hughes, Aiston.
Ref: T. Bates (Staffordshire)