3rd January
The Valley


Mr Kevin Lynch

Goal One
Shields 7 min
Goal 2
Stuart 70 mins
Goal Three
Hunt 77 mins

Charlton Athletic
Beasant     Kiely
Dawson     Powell
Hjelde Stuart
Simeca     Rufus
Gray   Newton
Prutton Hunt
Bart-Williams     Robinson
Johnson   Brown
Brennan   Pringle
John Shields
Harewood   Todd
Substitutes     Substitutes
Crossley     Illic
Cooper     Barness
Freedman Parker
Williams MacDonald
Merino     Salako

© Nottingham Forest 2000
Division One League Table
Marlon goes in for a tackle Bartman has a go

Forest: (3-5-2): Beasant: Dawson, Hjelde, Scimeca (c): Brennan, Johnson (Williams 84), Bart-Williams, Prutton, Gray: Harewood (Freedman 78), John. Subs not used: Crossley, Cooper, Merino.

Anyone who wasn't there today could easily be forgiven for looking in the paper tomorrow morning, seeing the fact that we lost 3-0 and had 5 players booked to Charlton's none and assuming that this was a right drubbing with Forest resorting to more and more fouls in order to keep them out. Not a bit of it. Believe it or not we played pretty well. A 1-1 draw would by no means have been an unjust result - certainly a three-goal margin flatters Charlton considerably. But there is something about Forest at the Valley - on my last three visits there I have seen us lose 4-1, 5-2 and 3-0. We stuck with the side who have shown us so much improvement in the past few games, with the only change Riccy returning from flu and Chris Doig succumbing to it. After a cagey start in the pouring rain on a swampy pitch, after a mere 7 minutes we went behind. A corner from the right was headed clear by Bart and landed at the feet of Greg Shields 30 yards out. He swung his foot and let fly - it was one of those efforts which either ends up going over the stand or flying into the top corner.... and unfortunately on this occasion it flew past Beasant like a rocket. Bad start.

For the rest of the half we played OK but no more, with the midfield holding its own but not being able to stamp its authority and the two up front living off scraps. The defence, however, with Dawson outstanding, held off Chalrton's quick and dangerous attack without too much trouble, and on the one occasion when they did punch a hole in our backline Lurch produced a stunning save at the near post. After half time, however, we seemed to up the tempo in midfield and suddenly we were first to the 50-50 balls, our passing was beginning to work and we exerted some real pressure.

For 25 minutes, in fact, we pushed arguably the best side in the division back and forced them to resort to kicking it anywhere. Marlon (another good game) went close twice, Bart had a rasping shot pushed over the top and Stern induced regular palpitations (and routine but mysteriously unpunished fouls from behind) in Richard Rufus. For all our pressure, however, we were not making enough chances, principally because Jim Brennan finally met someone who is as quick as he is and Andy Gray was closely marked, with the result that we made very little down either wing. None the less, we were outplaying them and playing the better football, with the travelling support roaring them on towards an equaliser.

Almost inevitably, of course, what happened instead was that they caught us on the break. Johnno was dispossessed on the edge of their box (actually I thought he was fouled on the edge of their box, but there you go) and they set off on a counter-attack at pace. We still had a chance to clear it, but Dawson showed one fatal example of the tendency to play football when a hoof would do better that I mentioned last week, suddenly found Andy Hunt bearing down on him, lost the ball and watched in horror as they ran on and gave Beasant no chance. After that, though we continued to play the better football for long periods and to press, we looked increasingly susceptible to the counter-attack - Lurch produced another storming save from one and then from the next Hunt produced an excellent finish to make it 3-0. Marlon was taken off (to stop him from getting sent off, in my view - he was booked after 5 minutes and began to sail a bit close to the wind as frustration mounted), then Gareth Williams was given another 10 minutes' experience, during which he again showed his good balance and excellent first touch.

So. Charlton are a good side and, frankly, I went there today not expecting to get anything. But 3-0 was a gross distortion of a game in which we outplayed them for long periods. The Charlton fans I talked to on the train afterwards agreed: "Blimey, mate - if you've been playing like that what the bleedin' 'ell are you doin' dahn the bottom?". Don't be downcast. The improvement continues, and if we can sustain this level of performance we WILL climb the table. We should, incidentally, thank our lucky stars that we won't see Mr Kenny Lynch again for a while. We have already had him as ref once this season and I seem to recall that he was rubbish then, too - today he came perilously close to losing control of the game after half time and showed some breathtaking inconsistency. Prutton and Hjelde, for instance, were booked for pretty minor offences. Rufus' constant tendency to lead with his elbow (Kevin Dawson will be seeing stars for some time after one brutal challenge) and insistence on hanging onto any red shirt with both hands at every opportunity, however, somehow seemd to pass Mr Lynch by altogether.

Sigh. How many more of these awful refs are we going to have to put up with?


Copyright © 2001 Nottingham Forest F.C.