|It was a cold, sunny Boxing Day and the queues for the ticket
office stretched round the car park, hoping for a better result than the
pre-Christmas matches. I was surprised to see Harewood starting up front
with John, following his performance at West Brom. Reid was once again left
on the bench with youngsters Foy and Edds.
I have to say, before anything else, that this was one of the most inept displays of refereeing that I have seen this season, and we have seen a few. It was laughable in the first half and completely ruined the second. The refereeing was almost matched by the poor performance of Crewe who threatened rarely and played a lack lustre performance.
The first half wasn't bad - Forest had the majority of the play and as the half progressed they put together some good passes. But, following on from the West Brom match - what about the performance of Harewood - I listen to one person sitting near me and he is, apparently, a complete waste of space and another who thinks his skill is highly underrated. So, what is the truth - well, he did show some skill today. Some of his passes into the box were good and he certainly was more effective than Stern John. But what good is a striker if he cannot hit the target and does not see his team-mates when they are in goalscoring positions. In the first half he had two chances in the first 10 minutes from which he shot wide and wasted a couple more later on. He also made a couple of great runs through only to hold on to the ball too long when he had team-mates in goal-scoring positions.
The goal came eventually on 38 minutes following a period of serious pressure from Forest in the Crewe half. Harewood put the ball through to Jones who slipped the ball under the keeper.
As far as the refereeing in the first half - Prutton was booked for a late, but fairly mild, challenge. The ref missed a pass back to the Crewe keeper and made a couple of other poor decisions. But, when Stern John was brought down when he was running through on goal, the ref just talked to the Crewe player. Talk about inconsistency!
The second half does not really warrant a detailed report. It was very scrappy and Platt made a series of substitutions which, whilst intended to cause problems for Crewe, in fact resulted in Forest losing shape completely. In my mind all three players who went off were playing better than the three who came on for them - in particular Brennan and Williams. And the refereeing just got worse, culminating in the sending off of Dave Prutton. The actual reason for the second yellow card was for encroaching on a free kick. Crewe took the kick at least 5 yards in front of where they should and Prutton was making the point by standing 10 yards from where it should have been taken. Consequently, when the free kick was taken the ball blasted into Prutton's back and the ref booked him. This was just one in a series of decisions which left the whole crowd (apart from the very few quiet and scattered Crewe supporters) screaming for the ref's blood. I have rarely heard such a volume of boos at the end of a match.
Forest made hard work of holding on to the three points when they should have won easily. But, hold on they did, and are now back in 6th place in the table.
David Platt Comments
Nottingham Forest climbed back into the promotion play-off frame . . . but manager David Platt was far from satisfied with their victory over struggling Crewe Alexandra.
The Forest boss was concerned that his side had some anxious moments in the closing stages of the game as they hung onto a slender lead given them by Gary Jones.
"It was important that we took three points today, but I was disappointed that it was only 1-0 because I felt that we had the possession to kill them off," said Platt. "I felt we needed a second goal because they have some lively players, but it just wouldn't come.
"We've had a little dip in form recently which coincided with us being down to the bare bones owing to all the injury problems, but we didn't lose much ground and this victory has put us right back in there among the contenders for the promotion play-off places."
The Forest manager added: "Now we must try and cement our place in the play-off spots by putting another good run together over the next few matches. "
Platt bemoaned the lack of consistency shown by referee Paul Robinson after seeing midfielder David Prutton sent off after picking up a second yellow card.
"It's the lack of consistency which concerns me," he said. "After David was booked in the first half, their number three should have received a yellow card for pulling down Stern John was in a two-on-two situation breaking forward.
"You can't grumble about referees because you are not allowed to these days, but you have to run 25 yards away to avoid encroaching. What disappointed me was that they took the free kick quickly six yards from where it should have been taken.
" Prutton will now serve a one match ban for the sending off and will therefore miss the televised match against Crystal Palace on Sunday January 14.
© Nottingham Forest 2000