8th April
The City Ground


Mr G. Laws

Goal One
Hunt 40 mins
Goal Two
Bart - Williams
81 mins pen

Charlton Athletic
Beasant     Kiely
Scimeca     Barness
Hjelde Stuart
Calderwood   Rufus
Brennan   Newton
Prutton   Kinsella
Bart-Williams Hunt
Johnson     Robinson
Rogers     Brown
John Svensson
Harewood     Powell
Substitutes     Substitutes
Crossley     Tiler
Lester Pringle
Gray Parker
Terry   Konchesky
Louis-Jean     Royce

© Nottingham Forest 2000

David 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 that today."

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
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attn 20,992

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 today?

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.


Copyright © 2001 Nottingham Forest F.C.