was not possible to overestimate the importance of a win today.
And the fact that we were even contemplating not beating a side
like Crewe would at one time have been unbelievable. But Forest's
disappointing season is only emphasised by the dangerous position
that they hover in just outside the relegation zone. But we all
know that, so how is it that we managed to turn things round and
win away from home 3-0.
Forest were lucky not to concede a penalty after only 6 minutes
when Vaughan brought down a Crewe player in the box. But that aside,
Forest quickly took control. Scimeca had the first chance of the
match on 10 minutes but shot well wide. Platt had decided on playing
four central defenders across the back and on the whole this seemed
to work although Vaughan at times did look out of position at left
back. On 20 minutes Rogers had a left foot shot cleared off the
line as Forest began to pile on the pressure. Soon after Crewe had
their first real chance when Scimeca denied Rivers a chance to score.
The first goal came on 25 minutes as Rogers put a low cross in from
the left hand side. Prutton ran in to pick it up and tapped the
ball neatly into the net from 6 yds for his first senior goal. Soon
after another cross from Rogers found Harewood, who shot just over
the bar. Although Crewe were playing with three strikers Forest's
dominant midfield gave them little opportunity to take advantage
until near to half time. Rivers came close to equalising when he
beat Vaughan and then Beasant came under pressure. A through ball
split the back four and Beasant just managed to win the ball - the
first real work he'd had to do in the first half. He saved again
seconds before the whistle as he smothered the ball at the feet
Throughout the first half Forest had most of the play, but on the
whole lacked the final touch. Harewood in particular was working
hard but never managed to make it pay off when it mattered. At the
start of the second half Crewe came on the attack again and it was
only Cramb's selfishness in trying to score rather than pass that
let Forest off. And that was just about it from Crewe for the second
half. Forest's second goal came on 52 minutes. Harewood put in a
cross to Stern John who held the ball whilst Rogers could run into
position. John passed it wide to Rogers who blasted the ball into
the opposite corner to score his 10th goal of the season.
Stern John took a knock on the leg and was substituted a few minutes
later with Lester taking his position up front with Harewood. But
the match settled into mediocrity and Crewe were subjected to slow
handclaps from their supporters. But they were drowned out by the
singing of the travelling Forest fans and for once we really did
not care how bad the match got. Harewood was brought down just outside
the penalty area but the resulting free kick was headed easily away.
And then Rogers put the game out of Crewe's reach (not that it was
ever really within it) with 12 minutes to go. Another great left
foot drive gave the keeper no chance. Crewe were denied a second
penalty when Brennan, who had only been on the pitch a few minutes
brought a player down. Even the ref was on Forest's side today,
and that does make a change. And that was about it. Not a startling
match. Beasant had virtually nothing to do, the midfield worked
well and the defence were effective. Calderwood was greatly improved
from his last performance, but without a doubt the Man of the Match
was Alan Rogers. A lot of teams would pay a great deal of money
for a midfielder and some-time defender with 11 goals to their name.
I, for one, hope that none of them decide to make Forest too good
an offer for him at the end of the season.
As the whistle went Platt and the whole bench joined his players
in going straight across to applaud the away supporters. And they
deserved it - the ever loyal travelling fans had packed the whole
of Crewe's away area with some 1,800 supporters and had sung and
cheered for most of the match. Nobody really cared that we had not
seen a good performance - we had three goals and, more importantly,
three points. And nobody could ask for more than that.
But let's not get carried away. Crewe were truly awful. We now have
to do the same against Charlton, Birmingham and Sheffield United
- well, at least two of them would be good! Not an easy task. But
this win will have worked wonders in restoring the confidence of
the players and will, for at least this week, keep the threat of
relegation at bay. And I'm sure that I will not be the only fan
who will actually be looking forward to going to a match next Saturday
for the first time in a while.
David Platt paid tribute to the work-rate of his players after they
boosted their Division One survival hopes. The boss told us: "The
pleasing thing - and the thing that I as a manager can really savour
- is the manner in which we claimed the three points. "We went to
Gresty Road with a definite game plan and it worked perfectly for
almost the entire 90 minutes. "The players deserve all the credit
for that as they worked hard in every area of the pitch. When Crewe
were in possession, we got men behind the ball as quickly as possible
and just didn't give them the chance to hurt us." Forest can now
look forward to next Saturday's City Ground date with table-topping
Charlton with renewed confidence.
Platt added: "The game against Crewe was vitally important for us,
simply because we've got so many other difficult looking fixtures
coming up. "I'm sure today's win will have done the players the
power of good and I'm sure they will be looking forward to the visit
of Charlton … I know I am."