Report by Becky Gamester
A bright day at Ewood as the two sides who last met in their last season in the Premiership locked horns once again in a game that promised entertainment. It certainly fulfilled that description, but unfortunately more so for the home fans. Forest came into the game after a poor midweek defeat against Darlington whilst Rovers had won convincingly at the same early stage of the Cup. Former Rovers’ star Henning Berg came straight into the side after arriving on loan whilst Alan Rogers returned to the Forest back four. The two 18-year-olds, Chris Doig and Kevin Dawson, were left to cope with promising striker Matt Jansen and Welsh international (yet always known as the over-rated, over-priced one) Nathan Blake. Things were going to be tough.
It didn’t take long for Rovers’ to threaten when they hit the post in the second minute. Another former Man Utd defender, John Curtis, took a long throw which eventually found Blake who smashed the ball against the inside of Beasant’s right-hand post. Luckily, the ball rolled agonisingly along the goal line before Dawson cleared comfortably. Temperatures were rising as the players started to have tiffs throughout the game in a series of off-the-ball incidents, all of which the referee handled very well. The first of these was in the 14th minute when Blake and Dawson went down together, had a bit of handbags before the ref had a quiet word and sent them away.
The majority of the first half was dominated by Rovers, although Stern John and Jack Lester looked to link better as the game went on. However, the inevitability of a Rovers’ goal was turned into reality when Jansen headed the ball in from a Flitcroft cross as Prutton’s attempt at coming across turned out to be futile. Then, just two minutes later, Forest gave away “a stupid penalty” as Platt later described. The ‘over-rated, over-priced one’ was bundled down in a joint effort by Louis-Jean and Dawson, although he seemed to fall over a little too easily for my liking. Up stepped David Dunn who slotted the ball neatly to Beasant’s left as he dived the other way. Forest then finally woke up and were alive. A superb 25-yard strike from David Platt went just wide of the post before a goal-line scramble saw John hit the post as last season’s nickname ‘the postman’ haunted him once again.
Just when things were looking up, the quality of Blackburn’s strikers showed once again when Jansen forced a stunning save from Beasant at the other end. But it was Forest who ended on a high when they hit Rovers with their cool passing play before Rogers delivered a great cross through to the impressive Lester, whose bullet header smashed against the crossbar. The half-time whistle came and it seemed like it was going to be one of those days. Although the Lancashire side deserved the lead Forest were beginning to threaten towards the end of the half, although one would imagine Platt to have harsh words with his young defenders. Luck also seems to be on Rovers’ side of late, as they scored the fourth penalty in as many days. Forest were restricted to long-range shots for most of the second half although great 20-yard drives from John and Rogers forced great saves – it seemed that it really was going to be one of those days. However, Nathan Blake continued to fulfill his reputation as he maintained his poor shooting. In the 49th minute he was sent through only to blast horrifically wide; although Dawson did well to pressurise him, ‘couldn’t hit a barn door from 2 yards’ sprang to mind. Such mocking was, inevitably, reversed as he eventually found the net.
In Rovers’ first serious break of the half, a McAteer cross found Blake who headed the ball in easily. Forest fans were then celebrating momentarily as Prutton saw his tap-in find the net only for the ref to disallow it for handball. The rest of the game saw the away fans have nothing better to do than call for a Stuart Pearce return to the City Ground. Almost immediately, Platt hit back with a great shot before succumbing to the substitute’s bench as once again Forest fans successfully backed up their boo-boy reputation, contrasting with that fantastic conga effort we last saw at Ewood. Yes, perhaps it wasn’t our best performance but there’s no point in making things worse by putting the manager under more pressure.
The two league games we have lost this season have been against very respectable sides – a win against either would have been magnificent. We now how two more tough games and we need the full support of the fans – this does not include calling for the return of a hero who himself has expressed his wish to give Platty a chance and hope he does well. And he can. There were some good performances from John, Lester, Bart-Williams and particularly Platt – my man of the match for Forest – as a young defence was put up against the best striker in the division.
A lesson for everyone involved but Forest now face a side who has also had their pride damaged as Wednesday fell to a 5-0 home defeat. The signs were just about there to say that something can be taken out of the game on Wednesday at Hillsbrough as the Yorkshire side continue with injury problems.
Becky Gamester 'From The Terrace' - www.fromtheterrace.co.uk
© Nottingham Forest 2000