Nottingham Forest 2000
It was a 'Kids for a Quid' match today, a great opportunity
to swell the numbers and get the youngsters hooked on Forest
at an early age. Well, swell the numbers it certainly did with
a crowd well over 19,000 and it was good to see so many excited
faces all around. Mind you, by half time I was beginning to
weigh the advantages against having the back of my seat kicked
by a pair of legs too short to reach the ground! But in the
more boring moments of the match I enjoyed hearing fathers try
to tackle that most difficult of questions - No, not 'Daddy
where do babies come from?' but - "Daddy, what does offside
mean?" And I thought that the description of a substitution
as "when the one that is tired goes off and a new one comes
on" as rather endearing.
Why, you might ask yourself, am I going on about kids when Forest
have just won 3-1. Well, to be brutally frank, it was a poor
match. I knew how bad it was when I nearly missed the first
goal because I was reading the adverts on the electronic scoreboard.
But back to the beginning. Forest lost the toss. For us sitting
in the Trent End this means that, if Forest are going to score
shedloads of goals, we need them to be scored in the first half.
I am sure that someone who likes statistics will tell me the
numbers, but we haven't seen many Forest goals down our end
for a couple of seasons now. And, as we had already decided
that we should be scoring at least three against bottom of the
table strugglers Swindon, this was going to be our week. Freedman
started today in place of Harewood and Scimeca was back in defence
again as Hjelde is still carrying the injury that made him pull
out of the Wolves match during the warm-up.
Forest started in lively enough fashion, with Johnson and Prutton
looking busy and Lester running around up front trying to find
someone to give the ball to. Lester had a chance in the first
minute, Freedman put a chip in from a Lester pass and Prutton
had a chance saved by keeper Talia. But it wasn't long before
Forest were bringing their play down to the level of Swindon
and we were beginning to think that the goals were just not
going to come. It was as if the second half of the Wolves match
had just carried on back at the City Ground.
At one stage Swindon even started getting some chances in with
Hay ballooning the ball over the net on 25 minutes. Then, just
as my attention was really starting to wander, Rogers put in
a beautiful cross. It was almost as if the ball changed it's
mind at the last minute and curled itself into the net. A goal.
In the first half. In the Trent End. The second goal came about
from a bizarre bit of play.
After some disastrous defending by Swindon, Lester was through
on goal. The keeper came running out of his box to stop him,
Lester swerved away, the keeper swerved the other way and they
danced round each other until the keeper was well outside his
area. Finally, the ball got through to Freedman who, due to
the absence of the keeper to make any save, was brought down
in the box. By this stage Lester was bent over on the floor,
not through injury, but sheer embarrassment at not being able
to score. Cries of 'dodgy keeper' rang out as Bartman stepped
up and put the penalty neatly away into the corner of the net.
Goal 2. In the Trent End. In the first half! But, our excitement
was not over. Suddenly, two goals up and with a dodgy keeper,
there could be no stopping us. And, on 42 minutes, Freedman
picked up a beautiful cross from Prutton and scored number 3.
Well, we went in for the Bovril at half time - no, wait a minute,
I cannot tell a lie here, unlike Webmaster I hate Bovril, and
I don't go anywhere at half time, I stay in my seat and watch
'Sherwood' the mascot play goalkeeper. But anyway, that last
15 minutes made us forget the rather poor performance we had
seen up until then. Surely Swindon would be so demoralised that
we would put in several more goals in the second half.
Well, I've always like the saying 'a game of two halves'. But
today I really wish that there had been just the one. To say
that the last 45 minutes was poor would be kind. It started
badly enough with Swindon being awarded a penalty as Johnson
brought down a player. It didn't seem penalty material to me,
but I'm biased. Hay put the ball neatly away and it was 3-1.
For those of you who like statistics it is the only goal we
have conceded since Vaughan has been playing for Forest (bearing
in mind that he was not on the pitch at Wolves). Let's hope
that Platt manages to sign him this week before he is due to
go back to Man City. He is looking very good at the back and
we desperately need him.
There is little more to say about the second half. It was messy,
scrappy, boring untidy football. Marlon came on for Lester and
had a good chance to score within seconds but couldn't get past
the keeper. Rogers had a couple more goes at 'crossing' the
ball into the net, Freedman had a shot saved and Quashie had
a couple of good shots. I'm beginning to sound like the sort
of moaning Forest fan that I hate - we won 3-1 and still not
happy. We got the three points and at this stage of the season
that is what counts. It won't be that easy against Norwich on
Wednesday but at least we are beginning to get the winning feeling.