Saturday 3rd February.
With Nottingham Forest pushing hard for a play-off place, and
no doubt wishing to exact some kind of revenge for the humbling
they had to endure at the City Ground, this was always going to
be a tough fixture. If you’d offered me a 1-1 draw before kick off,
I’d probably have snapped your hand off, but by full time I was
disappointed that we hadn’t managed our first league double of the
The main surprise in the 16 on duty was the omission of Jamie
Vincent but no mention had been made of any injury, so unless something
happened just before kick off the transfer rumours might be about
to turn into fact? Whatever the reason, Macari elected to begin
with Thomas Heary playing in an unfamiliar left back role, with
Dyson and Lucketti in the centre and Moses playing as right back
and the rest of the lining up as expected.
Whether it was the defensive reshuffle or whether it was that Forest
were up for this game was unclear, but save to say that Forest were
by far the sharper team in the early stages. Although they didn’t
create too many clear-cut chances they looked very quick up front
and new signing David Johnson from Ipswich Town had plenty of pace
although thankfully he was edgy in front of goal. Town seemed to
have trouble getting out of their own half of the pitch and it was
no real surprise when Forest took the lead after only 12 minutes.
Following a throw in from the left hand side, a raking ball was
played into the Town penalty area where it was met by Ricardo Scimeca
who was well positioned behind the nearest marker. Nico Vaesen had
little chance of making the save, but once again this season the
defence was found wanting. There was a feeling that the unbeaten
run was about to come to a sticky end, but strangely the expected
Forest onslaught never actually materialised. David Johnson for
all his pace was wasteful when faced with a goal scoring opportunity,
and it gave the home fans chance to remind David Platt what a waste
of money he was.
The remainder of the half seemed to drift into a dour midfield
battle as Town strived to get themselves back into the match, and
Chris Holland worked manfully to try to gain some possession but
all too often the passing was slack. Simon Baldry’s injury restricted
him to a place on the substitutes bench, and we missed his pace
on the right hand side, Ben Thornley tried hard but has lost the
modicum of pace he once had and seems unable to get past defenders.
The first half was drifting to a close with only a one goal deficit
to turn round in the second half (after all we are a second half
team aren’t we?), and the fourth official indicated 2 minutes of
stoppage time added.
Normally, stoppage time means a period of play when Town have
to try their utmost to stop the inevitable concession of a goal,
but not today. Ben Thornley seemed to have ages on the ball as the
Forest defence sat back, and eventually he looped it into the penalty
area. The cross was met by Delroy Facey who headed the ball upwards,
but in the direction of Kevin Gallen who returned the complement
by heading the ball back to Facey who had made space for himself
on the edge of the 6-yard box. The rest was easy as he got over
the ball and steered his shot past the helpless Beasant to give
Town an unlikely equaliser.
After only a couple of minutes of the second half Macari reshuffled
the team, bringing Dean Gorré on for Jon Dyson, switching Heary
to right back (thank goodness) and dropping Craig Armstrong back
to left back. With Adie Moses partnering Chris Lucketti in the centre
of defence the side had a more balanced look and Town started to
control the game. Unfortunately for Town, veteran Forest goalkeeper
Dave Beasant decided to have one of his more inspired games, pulling
off some magnificent saves to keep the midlands club in with a chance.
The end-of-game statistics showed that Town deserved more out of
the game, with an on-target shot count of 5-2 and 14 corners to
the visitors’ 9, but we have got to rediscover the killer touch
in front of goal.
Plenty of crosses were delivered into the Forest area, particularly
following the introduction of Simon Baldry just after the hour mark,
but the forwards seemed slow to keep up with play. When we did manage
to get a shot on target, Beasant proved to be up to the job blocking
a shot from Chris Holland who looked set to finally notch his second
goal for the club. Martin Smith who looks to be getting back to
his best after his injury lay off had a couple of excellent opportunities
saved by the keeper, as Town continued to search for the winner
they deserved for their second half performance (although not the
first), but they almost fell to a sucker punch after around 82 minutes.
David Johnson wrestled his way through the Town defence only to
hit his shot wide when he looked to have done the hard work, but
it would have been against the run of play.
Some referees seem to favour the team they consider to be the
bigger club, and today was a case in point. On more than one occasion
Simon Baldry’s forays forward ended with him being dumped unceremoniously
into a heap with little preventative action from the referee, but
undeterred Town continued to press right up to the final whistle.
Deep into stoppage time, Kenny Irons who had been brought on to
replace Kevin Gallen played a delightful ball through to the advancing
Dean Gorré but his flicked ball was cleared off the line with Beasant
This result was probably fair on the balance of play over the whole
90 minutes, but it’s frustrating when we could have won the game
and started to put some daylight between us and the teams in the
bottom 3. We’re not really losing any ground despite having so few
fixtures in January, but we could do with turning the odd home draw
into a win to start to be upwardly mobile and enjoy and nice dull
end to the season. If we carry on drawing so many games, it will
be a real nail biter right up to game 46.
TOWN 1 (Facey 45)
Nottingham Forest 1 (Scimeca 12)
Position in table – 21st
Town – Vaesen; Heary; Lucketti; Dyson
(Gorré 48); Moses; Armstrong; Thornley (Baldry 62); Holland;
Gallen (Irons 87); Facey; Smith. Subs not used – Margetson;
Nottingham Forest – Beasant; Edds (A Johnson
72); Edwards; Bart-Williams; Benali; Scimeca; Williams; Pruton;
Harewood (John 83); D Johnson; Reid (Brennan 55). Subs not
used – Roche; Vaughan.
Referee – George Cain (Bootle). Attendance