Platt was a happy man after his side confounded the odds to secure
a valuable point from the visit of League leaders Charlton to The
City Ground. A Chris Bart-Williams penalty nine minutes from time
earned Forest a 1-1 draw - after Scottish international Colin Calderwood
had been dismissed for two bookable offences! Calderwood's 75th
minute sending-off sparked Forest's best period of the game and
Platt said: "A lot of people would have expected us to go under
after Colin had been sent-off, especially against a team of Charlton's
quality. "We didn't do that ... and we could have won the game in
the end, although by the same token we could have lost it as well.
"When you're down to 10 men they are going to get chances but our
defending was good and everyone of my players worked very hard to
make up for the fact that we were a man short." One of the bright
spots of the afternoon was the performance of John Terry, the teenage
defender on loan from Chelsea who made his Forest debut as a second
half substitute. Platt added: "John showed why Chelsea won't sell
him at any price. I've joked with Gianluca Vialli about the possibility
of buying John but he won't have it. He's a quality player and showed
Bridport Red has now managed to move from Bridport and is now back
on the road reporting for us, lets see what he has to say!
Nottingham Forest 1 v 1 Charlton Athletic
Last week after Forest's excellent (and in my view decisive in terms
of staving off relegation) win at Crewe many of you will have seen
Platty quoted as saying that Forest could easily be challenging
for promotion next season with the squad they have now. Like me
you might have read it and wondered whether a) he had taken leave
of his senses and/or b) he had seen something we have all missed.
Well today we might have seen a glimpse.
On the face of it we had the dubious prospect of watching the team
almost universally acknowledged to be the best in the division bring
several thousand fans up to Nottingham, cruise to a routine win
against "Struggling Forest" (as we appear to have been renamed by
the BBC), get promoted and confirm the comfortable preconceptions
of the press. Instead what we saw were two teams who appeared to
me to be separated by one thing and one thing alone: confidence.
Charlton are a decent side - neat, well organised, hard-working,
decent shape, comfortable on the ball... all that stuff. But on
today's evidence they sure aren't an entire table better than we
are - we matched them in many areas, surpassed them in a few and
generally looked a reasonable side ourselves.... but only intermittently.
If we can develop some consistency and play the football that we
are capable of on a routine basis (rather than for 15 minutes here
and there), then Platty could just be right. Anyway, that is for
the future, and we will have lots of time to mull over the various
possibilities over the rapidly approaching close season. What about
The first half was interesting but no more than that - some decent
football in midfield from both teams, but very little penetration
at either end; neither Keilly nor Lurch had a save to make worthy
of the name. Marlon drifted a cross inches over Stern's head and
Johnno rasped a volley, never quite fully under control, a foot
wide from Stern's lay-off. At the other end Andy Hunt gave Calderwood
a good run out and Shaun Newton mishit a shot into Lurch's midriff.
But then, just as we were starting to think about the half-time
drink, Charlton scored the softest of soft goals. So soft, in fact,
that I still can't quite work out how it went in. A throw wide on
their left near the half way line, Marlon closed down the full back
and forced him to play a speculative ball through the middle. No
danger, thinks I. Then the defence parts like the Red Sea and somehow
the ball is at Hunt's feet 10 yards out with no-one to beat. He
didn't miss. It was one of those goals where I looked hard at the
linesman and ref because I simply couldn't believe we had just missed
it - surely something illegal had happened. No. Sorry. We just missed
it. Poor defending, to put it mildly - which is a great shame because
up to then we had been giving every appearance of coping pretty
well. Half time, neither side standing out as particularly better
than the other - yet still we succeed in shooting ourselves in the
foot and go in 1 down. Ominous.
At half time Stern - still quite clearly not even half fit - was
replaced by Jack. But Charlton were playing better by now, we were
strangely subdued, and I was beginning to wonder where a goal was
coming from. It wasn't that we were under the cosh or anything,
but equally we were not causing the excellent Rufus at the heart
of the Addicks' defence any great palpitations. Our only serious
chance came when Calderwood won the ball at the far post from a
free kick and nodded it back. Jack met the ball sweetly on the volley
with his left foot, only to see the keeper pull off a stunning save.
You always get one chance, and we hadn't scored from it (no blame
to Jack - he couldn't have hit it any better; it was simply a great
save). So what changed things? Curiously enough, it was a sending
off with 15 minutes to go. Colin Calderwood had already been booked
for a fractionally late tackle when he did exactly the same thing
on Martin Pringle - from the side not behind, absolutely no malicious
intent, but undeniably late. He cannot have been surprised to see
a second yellow and then red. My heart sank. I thought we might
well simply subside, the game peter out and Charlton comfortably
ride out an ever-decreasing storm. Not a bit of it - if anything
the sending off galvanised us.
We started to press the ball more, the excellence of the impressive
Terry at the back (you can see why Vialli will not sell him - he
looks classy) allowed Bart to remain in midfield rather than having
to drop back, and the crowd started to get behind the team. Ten
minutes to go, Jim Brennan (troublesome to their right back all
afternoon) got the ball on the half way line. He looked infield
to pass sideways, where Johnno urged him in no uncertain terms to
run at the defence instead. He did, played an incisive 1-2 with
Tank, advanced into the box and was blantantly body-checked. As
clear a penalty as you will see - quite what Curbishley was talking
about afterwards when he said he was unhappy with the award I don't
know. Bart never looked like missing it, and duly didn't.
The final 5 or 6 minutes were as exciting as the previous 80-odd
put together. Both sides could have won it - Bart, Terry and Andy
Gray all put in excellent tackles in our own box, and at the other
end Jack and Marlon (terrific today) both went close; to my eyes
Jack was brought down in the desperate defending which ensued, but
maybe two pens was a bit much to ask... So a decent draw and a performance
where we did not look shabby in comparison with a good side. 6 points
clear of Walsall in the final promotion place (everyone else near
the bottom lost today), and effectively 7 because of our goal difference.
So (in my opinion at least) the panic is over. So the building for
next season should start now....
Maybe Platty has a point.