by Mrs Webmaster
Before I start today I have a confession to make. I am a 'closet'
Birmingham City supporter. So, today saw us sitting with friends
in the Spion Kop Stand surrounded by hundreds of passionate Birmingham
fans. Birmingham have not beaten Forest since 1981, and I was already
feeling a touch guilty about enjoying our friends hospitality and
then beating their team.
On the last occasion two years ago Forest 'stole' the match but
today we thoroughly deserved all three points. It was a cold, damp,
miserable day and as we stood for a minutes silence in memory of
the Hillsborough tragedy 11 years ago it brought back all the memories
of that day. But, as the ref. blew the whistle the travelling band
of Forest supporters erupted and the match was under way.
Birmingham took the early advantage and in only 4 minutes Beasant
lay injured following a clash with McCarthy. But this old soldier
never says die, no sooner than Norman started warming up, Beasant
got to his feet and carried on. The first 10 minutes was all Birmingham
and Bart-Williams picked up an early booking. There were signs that
it was going to be a fairly physical match. Rogers missed an early
chance to take the lead on 14 minutes when his pace put him clear
on goal only for him to put the ball wide. Five minutes later Harewood,
Rogers and Lester strung a good piece of play together and only
just missed the target. Harewood then shot just over the net. Birmingham's
defence was looking weak and Forest eventually took advantage.
On 40 minutes Rogers sent one of his now trademark powerful, curling
balls in from near the corner post. Purse attempted to head the
ball clear only to send it into the back of the net for an own goal.
I saw Webmaster flinch as he realised that he could not stand up
and cheer. As we watched the Forest supporters enjoying the moment
we sat quietly trying to look miserable - it was not easy!
So, Forest went in at half time 1-0 up although to be fair the first
half was fairly even in terms of chances and share of the ball.
I would not say that about the second half. Birmingham were very
poor and Trevor Francis used all three substitutions to try and
make a difference. But they showed the lack of commitment that the
Forest team have been guilty of at times this season. And Forest
showed the determination and team spirit that we have seen in recent
games and fought throughout the half to preserve their lead. But
Forest were dealt another injury blow when Calderwood, who had been
outstanding in defence, and McCarthy collided in front of Beasant's
goal and both went down. McCarthy eventually got up looking rather
dazed but Calderwood stayed down.
Eventually he was stretchered off and straight out to the dressing
room - more about his injuries later. Hjelde came on in his place.
Birmingham had a succession of bookings and had a claim for a penalty
dismissed by the referee - for once the decisions were going our
way as so often they haven't this season. Birmingham came close
to scoring from a corner but the ball went over the bar.
So, although Forest didn't really look like scoring often in the
second half they were by far the better side and really took control
of the pitch. Birmingham's best chance of the match came four minutes
from full time but Beasant made a fantastic 'Gordon Banks' style
reflex save, the ball crashed upwards into the top bar and was cleared
away. By the time the four minutes injury time was announced about
10,000 Birmingham fans were already making their way home. And as
the final whistle went Platt was out on the pitch congratulating
his players who then made their way over to salute their fans.
And those fans thoroughly deserved it. Although I would have preferred
to be in the middle of them I also enjoyed being able to watch and
listen to them sing their way through the whole match. Apart from
Beasant they were the heroes of the day bringing atmosphere into
an otherwise silent St Andrews. So, what was the difference today?
I would say 'team spirit'. I don't think there was a weak link out
there today. Hjelde stood in brilliantly for Calderwood, the midfield
worked well and Marlon just never stopped hustling. And please,
Chelsea, can't we keep Terry. He is going to be one class player.
And as the six of us got into the safety of the car and on our way
home we all let out the loud cheer that we had been holding in from
the moment Forest scored.
Calderwood injury latest
A serious injury to Colin Calderwood cast a shadow over Forestıs
1-0 win over play-off contenders Birmingham at St. Andrews. The
former Scottish international was carried off in the early stages
of the second half and although his problem is not as serious as
first feared, it still marred Forestıs success. An initial diagnosis
suggested that Calderwood had dislocated his ankle and broken two
bones in his leg! X-rays, however, later revealed that the former
Scottish international has fractured just one bone the fibula but
also suffered ligament damage in his ankle thanks to the dislocation.
David Platt told us: "The initial diagnosis was terrible but weıve
got reason to be much more optimistic after seeing the x-rays. "Colin
will be operated on tonight and hopefully if all goes according
to plan he should be back in time for the start of next season.
Our thoughts are with him." A Darren Purse own goal shortly before
half-time earned Forest their fourth away win of the season in the
League and virtually guaranteed Division One safety.
Despite the fact there was an air of good fortune about the manner
in which the winning goal came along, The Reds fully deserved their
success. "I was pleased with the way we played," added Platt, who
has now seen his side take seven points from their last three games.
"I think we deserved to take the points. "Mathematically weıre not
safe yet but weıve taken a significant step towards that aim. "Thereıs
no disguising the fact that we havenıt done well this season Iım
as disappointed as anyone about that - but we want to finish the
season on a high note. "And if we play in much the same manner in
our remaining four games, we will certainly pick up more points."
Forest face an Easter double-header next week with Saturdayıs City
Ground date with Sheffield United followed, 48 hours later, by a
Bank Holiday Monday trip to Fulham. Ironically, those two sides
met at Craven Cottage today with the Londoners emerging as 4-0 winners.