More changes to the squad tonight to hopefully improve upon the miserable
performance at Wolves. Olsen was back from America and was heard to say
that he would rather play against Barnsley than Brazil. Why? And Stern
John was given a start up front with David Johnson. The referee tonight
was Mr Cable who can be remembered only too well for last season's performance
at Sheffield United when he sent of Quashie and Platt.
Well, Forest started about as well as is possible with a goal in 48seconds.
Chettle, bless him (loved by all now that he no longer plays for us),
fouled John and Forest were awarded a free kick. Bart-Williams took it
from his favoured spot on the far edge of the penalty area and sent the
ball faultlessly into the net.
For the next 20 minutes we saw some good football from Forest. They were
passing on the ground and keeping possession. Not that it was too difficult,
Barnsley were truly dreadful. Having said that they nearly equalised after
a defensive 'fluff' which gave them the ball and it was only a great save
from Beasant that saved Forest's blushes. Forest lost a couple of opportunities
when David Johnson and Foy were both caught offside and another when the
Assistant Ref rather belatedly called a hand ball. Barnsley had another
chance to equalise but made a mess of an opportunity given to them on
a plate. On 40 minutes Stern John, playing better than he has all season,
shot just over. Then just before half time Olsen pulled up injured - well,
he more threw himself in the air clutching his leg and then rolled himself
off the pitch in agony to be stretchered off. More news on the injury
later. Just before the half time whistle John put the ball through to
Johnson but the keeper saved.
So, not a bad half of football. Forest looked good in midfield, putting
some nice stuff together. Unfortunately this was largely ineffective as
they were not getting the ball through to John and Johnson often enough.
Andy Johnson had a great half - possibly atoning for his dreadful red
card offence on Saturday.
The second half almost started as well as the first. Two minutes from
the start Prutton made a run through and held the ball up for John who
put the ball confidently into the back of the net, unfortunately from
an offside position. It was a close call but the linesman was right on
this occasion. On 55 minutes, to the delight of the Forest crowd, Shipperley
badly missed a great opportunity to score. On 61 minutes Andy Johnson
put the ball through to Foy who sliced it across the net and only just
missed the target. If Prutton had managed to get inside the goalmouth
a second earlier he would have been able to get a touch on it and put
the match out of Barnsley's reach.
But he didn't and the match basically deteriorated as the second half
went on. Forest's game became so poor that Barnsley nearly started to
look good. If they had been a better side they would have annihilated
Forest they had so many chances. Stern John went off looking absolutely
knackered, but to the loudest applause I have heard for him in a long
time. And Vaughan came on for Foy and managed to get himself booked within
minutes for an elbow on Barnard.
As we waited eagerly for the final whistle to put us out of our misery
we wondered whether the crowd would actually boo their side off in spite
of winning. But a cheer went up from the majority of the crowd, probably
from relief as much as anything. Yes, it's nice to get three points but
even nicer when it's enjoyable.
David Platt warned his Nottingham Forest players that they will have to
withstand a stern test of nerve if they are to make the promotion play-offs
after battling to earn a victory over much-improved Barnsley. Despite
being given a dream start by skipper Chris Bart-Williams, Forest had to
hang on to claim three more valuable points.
And Platt admitted: "There is a tension around the place, indeed around
the city as the race for play-offs spots hots up. "I wish in a way that
we could play two games a day for the next week and get it over with as
quickly as possible. "But we have to be strong in character and come through
tests like this because there will be many more occasions over the next
few weeks when the right result will matter far more than the level of
performance." He added: "We were hoping for an early goal to calm us down
and we got that, but I'm not sure that it had the desired effect.
"On the balance of play Barnsley probably deserved to get something out
of the game but we hung on to claim the win. Maybe we won't always get
away with it, so we have to try and turn that tension into excitement."
Forest will have to wait until tomorrow to discover the extent of Ben
Olsen's ankle injury after he was stretchered off in the first half. "We
won't know until we check on it again tomorrow, but it looks as though
he will be out for two to three weeks at the least," said Platt.
Nottingham Forest 2001