Report by Becky Gamester
Last time Forest played at Stockport, it was the last game of last season
between two mid-table sides with little to play for in an almost light-hearted
3-2 victory for the reds.
This game couldn’t have been more different, not least the contrasting
weather of the freezing cold, windy and rainy terraces of Edgeley Park.
However, the brave set of Forest fans were, as always, in full voice despite
the disappointing weather and, for most of the game, the performance to
match. After witnessing a superb performance in midweek against Burnley,
expectation was high for this game. However, Stockport were not to be
underestimated as they trounced promotion hopefuls Birmingham 3-0 last
week at Edgeley Park. And, for around 65 minutes or so, Forest were constantly
being pushed back by a battling County side.
There were two dangerous efforts towards the Forest goal within the first
10 minutes as Stockport immediately put Forest on the back foot. Luckily,
whilst looking a battling side that shouldn’t really be in the trouble
that they find themselves in within the depths of Division One, they simply
didn’t have the quality up front to put away the chances that should’ve
been their’s. At the same time, former Forest striker Ian Moore proved
why exactly he was offloaded from the City Ground as he cocked up several
striking chances whilst still looking like ‘he has potential’. Funny that
things haven’t moved on for the former Tranmere youngster. However, the
pacey frontman did find the back of the net for Stockport’s second goal
disallowed (the first was correctly disallowed for offside), but the ref’s
whistle had already gone for pushing.
As they went in for half time, a draw was looking good. Forest, to be
blunt, were pretty awful. On one occasion they managed to string together
three passes if my memory serves me correctly, but the front two of Lester
and Blake, impressive in recent games, had little to do as the service
lacked from midfield. However, defensive duo Edwards and Vaughan were
both looking typically solid at the back, although it was almost inevitable
that something was going to give in the second half. And it did, shortly
after half time.
Moore, again showing flickers of ‘potential’ saw his shot on target closed
down by Edwards, only for it to deflect into the net leaving Beasant no
chance. With a mediocre Stockport side, it came as no surprise that they
couldn’t score for themselves. For the majority of this season, Forest
have always shown a fighting spirit after conceding with some effect.
However, they just didn’t improve and it quickly became apparent that
something drastic needed to be changed.
Step in Mr Platt – he made an inspirational double-substitution that would
change the face of the game. Vaughan, who had been booked earlier on,
was replaced by Olsen and the non-existent Blake came off for Marlon.
The formation switched to 4-4-2, which had been the usual formation for
away games and immediately Forest actually started to play. Marlon, always
a joy to watch for one reason or another was evidently fired up for this
one and his influence seemed to spread throughout the team whereas Olsen
again proved why Platt has brought him over from America with some great
skills on the attack down the left.
Then all of a sudden Prutton played a great ball to Johnson, whose shot
rebounded off the ‘keeper only for Lester to tuck it away cleanly. Forest
had go the goal they wanted – and desperately needed – as we were looking
forward to a lucky point. Surely Forest wouldn’t get the winner?! But
they did. After an hour or so of scrappy, ‘in the air’ football from the
away team when we had seen such a great show of pass and move on Wednesday,
Forest’s ‘awakening’ immediately troubled Stockport and Forest grabbed
the goal with a couple of minutes to go. The high ball in from Bartman
found Marlon who unselfishly (for once!) supplied the goal assist for
Lester to smash in his double. It wasn’t the best of performances. In
fact, it was pretty terrible – maybe the weather had something to do with
it; the last time I travelled to a game in this part of the world in such
conditions we were soundly beaten by the might of Bury.
But, as Forest have found out so many times in the last few years, when
you’re struggling at the bottom luck doesn’t go your way. And when
you’re going for promotion (or the play-offs at least), as we discovered
on numerous occasions in our championship-winning season (oh how long
ago that seems!), it does :-)
Report by Burton Red, (Bridport Reds Brother!)
What a difference a week makes. Having endured the defeat by Watford,
I would not have been inclined to go to Stockport, but the 5-0 win in
mid-week put me in a more optimistic frame of mind, so I tried to tempt
Bridport to make the journey from London to Edgeley Park. It's probably
just as well he didn't, because he was in disgrace with his sister-in-law
for forgetting his nephew's birthday. So it was that brother Burton set
off for Manchester for a birthday treat with the said son and his younger
The omens were not good. Last time I went to an autumn game with Peter,
it was at the third-ranking team of a Northwestern city, Tranmere last
year. A 3-0 defeat followed the loss of the first goal, after a somewhat
scrappy first half. I mention this as evidence of the progress that has
been made in a year.
A late start and a filthy journey through the south-eastern approaches
ensured that we only arrived at 2.55, but a flukey car parking space and
quick trip to the ticket office meant that we only missed the first two
minutes. One reason for taking the boys was to show them what football
used to be like. In the end I thought that the uncovered Railway End was
taking authenticity too far, though many of the faithful braved it. This
was the Bridgford End of 20 years ago, only worse. But £26 for seats for
three of us wasn't bad, even if it was a restricted view - see below.
The match was sponsored by Stockport's main sponsors, Robinsons, and at
first it looked as if both teams had had five pints each. To be fair,
the conditions were absolutely atrocious, and both teams did well to play
a clean game. The first half resembled a pinball machine, with the ball
cannoning around all over the place, frequently miles up into the air.
Stockport had more of the attacking play, without actually looking quite
like scoring. They did have two efforts disallowed, one for offside, one
for a foul - in passing, it's worth mentioning the advantage of a small
ground, that you can hear the whistle before the ball goes into the net!
- but the closest they came to scoring was an effort low down by Beasant's
right hand post that needed a fine save to keep out. They also hit the
bar. Forest's efforts were restricted to a couple of runs by Rogers.
Two minutes into the second half all that changed. A fine run down the
right by Stockport - Kevin Cooper, I think, who had been their most dangerous
player in the first half - resulted in a good low cross. At this point
the restricted view came into play. That pillar was as over-engineered
as they come, and I couln't really see what happened except the net rippling
and the ref signalling a goal. It did seem that the Forest defence had
gone AWOL, but later reports indicated that it was an o.g. by Christian
Whatever, it's worth harking back to that Tranmere game. Last year I was
not confident of an equaliser - and Forest duly lost discipline and folded,
but this time I still thought they'd get something out of the game. The
other significant factor was that the Hatters are clearly lacking in confidence,
and even at 1-0 up they didn't start to play as though they thought they
were going to win. Forest started to play at last, and this process was
accelerated when - on about 55 minutes - Platt made a double substitution
of Marlon and Ben Olsen for TV and a somewhat subdued Blake.
They started to play better at once. Olsen immediately linked up with
Johnson and Rogers on the left, while Prutton and Harewood combined effectively
with Scimeca on the right. At last the whole team managed to find the
feet of the splendid Lester, with his back to goal, allowing him to turn
his man. Forest slowly but surely wrested control of the midfield and
the pressure started to tell. On about 70 minutes I had just remarked
that if Forest scored, they'd get two, when the game suddenly turned.
A corner on the right was not properly cleared and the midfield got the
ball back in to the box. The ensuing melee left the goalkeeper stranded
and Jack Lester coolly struck it home from about 10 yards. After that
everyone in the ground knew that if there were to be a winner, only one
side could get it.
At this point I have to pay tribute to football journalists for the ability
to recall exactly how goals are scored, when the rest of us just have
a vague recollection. So I wouldn't like to be on oath about the second
goal except that again it resulted from the midfield's inability to say
die. A ball was pumped back in - by Johnno, I think - and again Jack was
on hand to sweep home from similar range. The great thing to report about
Jack's finishes is that he never for one moment looked like missing either
So three points from an away game in terrible conditions. That can't be
bad. An absence of panic and the ability to play back into form are both
plus points. And more than anything, David Platt has reached the end of
October still in contention. And if the defence isn't perfect, Colin Calderwood
may be back soon...
Nottingham Forest 2000