23rd Sept
Blundell Park


Mr Alan Kaye

Goal One
Rogers 14 mins
Lester 41 mins

Beasant   Coyne
Louis-Jean   Butterfield
Edwards Smith
Vaughan Raven
Foy   Bloomer
Prutton Pouton
Johnson Coldicott
Bart-Williams Groves
Rogers Campbell
Freedman Clare
Lester Allen
Substitutes     Substitutes
Roche   Croudson
Harewood Gallimore
John Jeffrey
Scimeca Handyside
Jones Donovon

Report by Bridport Red

Exactly a week ago I sat down to write a report with steam still emanating from my ears about the mardiness of some Forest fans. Predictable, I guess, that things should be so different seven days later; today the fans put on probably their most electrifying display of away support for years. I for one will have no voice tomorrow.

You all know the song; "I never felt more like singing the blues, when Forest win and Derby lose" etc (and yes, we know Derby drew - that wasn't really the point!). Ingram and the boys from the back of the Trent End started singing it with 20 minutes to go today - and it didn't stop until the final whistle blew. A couple of Grimsby corners, a free kick... nothing stopped the song, nothing stopped the conga, nothing stopped the wave of noise.

Why do I mention it? Well you could see the effect it had on the players is why; all of them came over to us at the end, the singing was mentioned in the post-match interviews, the whole thing seemed to give the boys an extra half yard for the final quarter of the match. If we could translate the amount of noise made today by 1500 Forest lunatics (I am proud to include myself in that description!) into an equivalent from 17000 Forest throats at home, just think what we could achieve.....

Good stuff today - not Forest's greatest-ever away performance, sure. Not even our best away performance this season. But a steady, calm, comfortable professional away win which leaves us very handily placed in the table.

The continuing injury to the manager and Jim Brennan's wretched early-season form meant a debut this afternoon for yet another of Paul Hart's ever more impressive collection of young talent. Keith Foy, our 18-year-old Irish youth international left back, came in and looked the part straight away. He is not especially tall (5'11"-ish?), but built like the proverbial brick outhouse (or whatever the Irish equivalent might be). Predominantly left-footed, but with encouraging ability to pass with both feet. Sure, he will face more difficult opponents in his career, but let us put it this way - this was the first really solid defensive performance from a Forest left back this season (is it mere coincidence that Tank was freed up ahead of him to have a good game?). Foy almost made it into the dream debut bracket when, early in the second half, he chested down a half-cleared corner and smacked a sweetly-struck curler against the outside of the post, but that would probably have been too much to ask. It is greatly to the Academy staff's credit that Foy looked utterly at home from the start - on that performance he ought to be given an extended run in the team and given the chance to make the place his own. Nice one, Keith!

The first few minutes were on the scrappy side as the two sides wrestled to gain control of the midfield. Gradually Forest's superior passing on the floor began to pay off, though, and after 14 minutes we took the lead. The goal was started by an excellent raking diagonal cross-field ball from ML-J, but from then on it was all Alan Rogers. He took the ball in his stride about 35 yards out and accelerated towards the by-line. The defence was clearly expecting a cross as he reached the corner of the box, but instead he dropped his shoulder and cut in, left two defenders on their backsides, ran the ball along the edge of the 6 yard box, waited for the keeper to commit himself and then swept the ball into the corner with his right (yes, really - his right!) foot. A great individual goal (he must like Blundell Park, having scored a couple there in the Pantomime Ref fiasco defeat last year).

After a further 25 minutes of comfortable football on Forest's part - no great alarms at either end - we wrapped the game up with a goal from the other end of the spectrum; a true team goal. When ML-J and Bart broke up a nascent Mariners' attack wide on our right at the halfway line, there seemed no danger. Suddenly, though, some incisive crisp short passing involving Johnno, Bart twice, ML-J and Prutts put the ball at Dougie's feet - one perfectly weighted through ball later and the Grimsby defence had been sliced wide open. Jack stumbled slightly as the ball arrived, but we had ripped open their backline so clinically that he had ample time to recover, steady himself, draw the keeper and slot the ball comfortably into the far corner.

So half time, two excellent goals and a steady performance. Inevitably Grimsby came at us for a while after the break, Lurch made a couple of fine saves, Clare shot clean across the face of the goal and Allen escaped Edwards for the only time in the match to fire just over. They were playing better, but don't go away thinking that we let it go - interspersed with those efforts at our end were a great save by Coyne from Dougie effort on the break, Keith Foy's shot against the post and a couple of close shaves from Jack Lester.

And then, for the final 20 minutes, Forest gained an extra man as the fans drowned Lurch's goal in a wall of sound.

We can and will play better than this, but there was much to admire. No one player really stuck out, but equally no-one played badly (not even after Tank - presumably injured - was taken off and we saw the strange sight of Riccy on the right wing and Prutts on the left!). Above all, however, it was a controlled TEAM performance, the likes of which we seldom if ever saw last season.

A quick word for Dougie. It wasn't that he stuck out as our best player or anything, but he does look like a player reborn; where last season his body language gradually began to show a man not at ease, too quick to blame his team-mates and generally eager to seek pastures new, today (and, I gather, ever since the players came back for pre-season training) he looked really up for it. Movement, pace, excellent work-rate and the signs of a good understanding with Jack - a total change of attitude. We have always known Dougie can score goals - it has been the rest of his game that has caused us concern. Not today; when he started to tire and was replaced by Marlon, Dougie got the best reception he can have had from any Forest fans for months, and he thoroughly deserved it. Welcome back Dougie!

Grimsby? Well they were better than Sheffield Wednesday, for sure - but that isn't saying much at the moment. They aren't rubbish, but since the sale of Ashcoft and Jack Lester it is undeniable that they lack penetration up front. I rather fear for their survival come May.

Man of the match? An excellent debut by Keith Foy, more solid stuff at the back from TV and Edwards, Prutts and Johnson both back to their best, 2 great goals.... hmmm, tough choice.

Actually no - not a tough choice this afternoon. The man of the match - the Fans.

So now let us all set ourselves a challenge; for the team, let us see a decent performance AT HOME next week. I have now seen us win 3 out of our last 4 away games, but there are thousands of Forest fans whose most recent memories of Forest are Brum, Darlington and Fulham, and unsurprisingly they need convincing that these away wins are not a fluke. As for the fans, let's see whether we can translate the superb support of today into the home equivalent. Honestly, it was fantastic, and transferred to Nottingham it would be worth a goal per game.

Moment of the day for me came afterwards. Walking back to the car I saw two young girls in Mariners' shirts dancing and singing - no prizes for guessing what the song was; "I never felt more like singing the blues, when Forest win and Derby lose......"

© Nottingham Forest 2000



Copyright © 2000 Nottingham Forest F.C.