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......"