Mr Barry Knight
Carragher og 6 mins
Wright 43 mins
© Nottingham Forest 1999
I have decided that supporting Nottingham Forest can be a disease. At Port Vale tonight I sat with Bridport Red who had travelled 4 hours from Dorset for the third time in a week and Ebby was behind me after his usual trip from Germany.These guys never fail to amaze me with their dedication.
However I received a phone call when I arrived home, from Canada, which showed that this disease is spreading. The Eye in Vancouver who monitors the Century 106 internet commentary for us, had received a phone call from a fan flying from San Francisco to New York. He wanted to know what the score was and could he put his phone to the speaker so he could listen to it, and this was 30,000ft in the air!
On a cold night in the Potteries Bridport and myself had the luxury of two cups of Bovril.
A report by Bridport Red
Forest (4-4-2): Crossley, Doig, Metrecano (Hjelde 12), Scimeca, Louis-Jean: Rogers (Merino 80), Quashie (Woan 87), Bart-Williams, Bonalair: Freedman, Wright. Subs not used: Beasant, Prutton.
ht 0-2 attn 5714
AT LAST I can give you the sort of report I have been itching to write since the beginning of the season; a report of a workmanlike, uncontroversial, unspectacular, professional, routine Forest victory. Not a great game, not the best we have played, but calm, simple and a result that was never in doubt from start to finish. Platty stuck to 4-4-2 after the improvement in the Blades game, moving Tank forward to the left wing and playing Chris Doig at left back (where he had a quietly effective game). He dropped himself for the long-awaited return of Bart, moving Quashie back in to the middle and Bonalair to the right wing. As a consequence we looked more balanced and kept our shape better than at any time this season, probably for the simple reason that this was one of the first games where every player (with the possible exception of Doig) was playing in the position that they are best in. We scored after 6 minutes - a cross from the left drifted beyond the far post where Dougie retreived it from the by-line. He pulled it back to the edge of the box and Thierry Bonalair banged home a low drive deflected by Carragher.
We took control of the game from that moment on, and Norman did not have a single save to make all night; he resorted to entertaining (?) us with a series of dodgy kicks - either straight into touch or into a space where there were no red shirts - for the rest of the first half. Ahead of him Bart eased himself back in nicely, spraying the ball around well, Quashie played his usual pressing game to good effect and the others worked hard and showed some decent movement. Vale were, frankly, dire. After 12 minutes there came the game's only bad spot for us - Metrecano fell awkwardly after clearing the ball and appeared to twist his knee quite severely. He was carried off on a stretcher (you didn't think we were going to get through a game without any injuries, did you?) and was replaced by Hjelde.
Almost immediately we had the ball in the net again, Dougie heading home a Tank free kick from the right. But for a reason we couldn't quite fathom from our end the ref disallowed the goal - it wasn't an infringement by us because he ordered the free kick to be retaken. No matter, we continued to press, Vale continued to give the ball away and it seemed only a matter of time before we scored again. The second goal was a beauty, scored just before half time. Doig brought the ball out of defence and slipped it to Rogers who set off at speed up the inside left channel. A swift 1-2 with Dougie to take out the defence and then a low cross to the far post where Wrighty rammed it in. 2-0, game over.
The second half basically followed the same pattern - Forest in possession carving out occasional chances but mostly just happily keeping the ball, Vale playing pretty poorly (they were easily the worst team we have played this season so far) and the match gently cruising towards the inevitable Forest win. Wrighty had a couple of chances, one narrowly wide and one well saved, Tank started to turn the Vale right back in knots and was denied by another good save and Dougie (another good game from him) ran his socks off. Norman still had nothing to do, but at least his kicking had improved... It was not gripping stuff, if truth be told, but that was mostly because by this stage we were chugging along in low gear scarcely breaking sweat - and how nice it is to be able to say that; I look forward to a few more games where we are so much in control that it is almost dull! Only two other things of real note happened in the second half.
For the first, as if Vale didn't have enough problems, they won an offside decision; Dougie said or did something unseen by the rest of us to annoy the Vale centre half Tony Butler, and Butler proceeded to do a Devlin on him, punching him right in front of the ref. This ref got it right and sent him straight off (he also booked Dougie at the same time, which is why I say he must have done something to provoke Butler). The other was an even rarer sight - we saw Woany playing in the first team for the first time in months (seems like years). OK, only for 5 minutes, but it's a start. Actually even in five minutes he played a few tasty passes, all roundly cheered by the Forest fans. Welcome back, Woany. So there you have it. A low key report, quiet game, easy win, nothing controversial. Marvellous. Here's to many more.