© Nottingham Forest 1999
It had started as a non event day with the uninspiring eclipse earlier in the day and obviously this game hadn't captured the fans imagination with a sparse 8,300 coming to the City Ground for this 1st round game against my home town club Mansfield Town. I had been tempted to sit amongst the Mansfield fans but the flak I had received from the Forest staff today made me think better of it! I also have The Eye from Vancouver visiting at the moment and he definitely wouldn't have sat with me in the Bridgford End.
The game started at fast pace and it was in the 11th min when Freedman threaded his way through the Mansfield defence to just shoot wide. Petrachi was looking good on the ball and was showing some beautiful touches but with some wayward distribution. Mansfield were not being outplayed in the first half and Forest were finding it difficult to break through their defence. The Forest midfield was at times looking very cluttered. Gradually Forest started to create the chances with Harewood and Bart-Williams going close. Rogers was brought down on 40 mins and Bart-Wiliams taking on the role of van Hooijdonk and Pearce put a beautiful ball into the net from the ensuing free kick on 40 mins
Time for Bovril and a discussion on the merits of the long ball that Forest are playing at the moment.
David Platt had sorted out his ineffectual midfield for the start of the second half and Freedman, Harewood and Petrachi started to break open the Mansfield defence, and on 70 mins Bart-Williams broke down the left to put in a low cross for Quashie to head home from 10yds out. With 10 mins to go Allou was brought on to replace Rogers who had had a very quite night. Playing on the right with Petrachi switching to the left he picked up the ball just outside the area, turned and hammered the ball past the Stags goalkeeper. With a delayed reaction he suddenly did two somersaults in celebration, and the crowd started booing him, until I realised they had started a new chant of Alloooooo, Allooooo!
Forest came out comfortable winners in the end and never looked like losing the game, but Mansfield never looked like a team who had lost 6-0 on the first day of the season. I must also mention that after experiencing the most appalling refereeing standards last year in the Premiership, Mr Mathieson the referee was a joy to watch as he quietly but firmly took control of the game. He never tried to make himself the star of the show and found that a word here and word there, did the job. Unfortunately I am sure he will be the exception this year.