24th April
Craven Cottage


Mr Oliver

Goal 1
Lester 19 mins

Goal 2
Coleman 29 mins

Beasant     Taylor
Scimeca     Finnan
Vaughan   Phelan
Terry     Melville
Rogers     Coleman
Prutton     Uhlenbeek
Bart-Williams     Goldbaek
Johnson     Lewis
Gray     Clark
Lester   Riedle
Harewood Hayles
Substitutes     Substitutes
Crossley     Thompson
Cooper     Symons
John   Ball
Hjelde Horsfield
Edds   Peschisolido

© Nottingham Forest 2000


Lester scores Lester celebrates
Harewood Harewood

Profuse apologies to all for the unusually late filing of this - it is now almost midnight and I suspect that the Webmaster has long since gone to bed, so you might not see it until Tuesday morning. No excuses - other than my final away game of the season, a meeting with several of the London Exiles and the inevitable sampling of a few watering holes on my way home. A very late entry for away pub of the season was contributed by the Crabtree (but several points deducted for running out of bitter by 2:15). Plus two new categories all of their own - Poshest Post-Match Drinko-rama (The Ritz, no less, courtesy of The Eye) and Most Poncey Post-Match Eats (some Japanese scrinson in Soho called Wagarama - special thanks to Roger. Pretty good, actually. But still poncey).

Anyway - you don't want to hear the details of my enjoyable evening; how was the match? Kind of a dry version of Saturday, to be honest. Lots of honest endeavour by both sides, a few moments where the whole thing threatened to break out into a football match (but it never really did), a couple of good goals (OK, so we didn't get those on Sat) and everyone home happy enough but slightly soporific. End of season, not much for either side to play for - need I say more? And in the end a point which makes us even mathematically safe, being 7 points ahead if Walsall with 2 games left. Realistically I'd say we have been safe for a while, but it is always nice to have it confirmed. Forest started much the brighter, with Jack's movement and Andy Gray's seemingly unique (by Forest standards) ability to win the ball in the air causing problems for Fulham's defence.

After about 12 minutes Marlon gathered the ball in midfield and set off on a run at the centre of the obligingly retreating Fulham defence. Eventually even the lumbering Melville thought he'd better challenge, so Marlon slipped it to Jack, who turned inside and beat Tailor all ends up, only for the ball to hit the post and bounce clear. Unlucky - and a lesson about what could be achieved by keeping the ball on the ground (if so, it was one which was all-too-often ignored). Five minutes later Jack went one better. This time Johnno won the ball in centre field and ran at the defence. Once again the Fulham back-line parted like the Red Sea (or, if you prefer your analogies a tad less biblical, like ours against Charlton), Johnno slid the ball perfectly into Jack's path and he buried it beneath Tailor. 1-0 to us, the fans in decent voice, the sun shining and everything happy with the world.

Needless to say Fulham - who at this stage had shown us absolutely nothing - suddenly sprang in to life (which is more, incidentally, than could be said for their support; I thought we were quiet at the City Ground until I heard [or rather didn't] this lot. So much for the theory that terracing makes for more singing!).
They began to play the ball around more, Goldbaek and Clark became more prominent and our defence was under much more pressure. None the less, TV and Terry were handling everything coming their way easily enough, so it was frustrating that from their first serious attack they drew level - a corner from the right managed to evade everyone and reach Chris Coleman on the edge of the box (so who was marking him, then?). He met it on the volley and slammed it into the top corner. The rest of the half was pretty much all Fulham. Not that they looked like scoring again, but they were at least playing some pretty football in midfield. Half time, then; 20 minutes of Forest, 25 minutes of Fulham,1-1.

The second half was much more sleepy. They continued to play neatly enough but without much penetration, we counter-attacked rather more spasmodically than we would have wished - with neither goalkeeper being exactly rushed off their feet. Prutts did force a good save from Tailor at his near post, and Hayles occasionally found space around the edge of our box, but you would hardly say that either side was pouring forward or either keeper having to play a blinder. At one stage we Forest fans even briefly thought we had scored from a Marlon header which must have been clawed away on the line. It wasn't that we could tell from the other end, but the way the ref gesticulated, blew and ran towards the centre circle was sufficient to get us cheering a goal for a few seconds. (So, not much derision from the home fans there, then...) Frankly, it was sunny end of season stuff, and even the crowd almost dozed off until the final few minutes. Then suddenly, with 2 minutes to go, Geoff Horsefield (you remember him - he's the one who the London press were telling us would soon be playing for England) is in the centre, Terry slips and falls over for his single mistake of the afternoon, leaving Horsefield 4 yards out, unmarked in the centre of the goal. Dramatic swing of right foot, complete air shot, ball hits standing foot and dribbles embarrassingly wide. Classic stuff (and if that bloke is an England centre forward then I am Ronaldo. Horsefield? I think not - the word Donkeyfield springs to mind.) So 1-1 we finish (and 1-1 was a fair result in my view).

A decent enough, if unspectacular performance (and the unheard-of luxury of a 5-match unbeaten run). Terry his now customarily excellent self at the back - like all really good defenders, he seems to spot what is going to happen that half second quicker than anyone else, so when he wins the ball it all seems faintly inevitable. Jon Olav and TV between them doing pretty well in the other slot in the centre of defence. Andy Gray, whilst not beating Uulenbeek (or however you spell it) as often as he might have done on the outside, won absolutely every header against him and generally had his best game for a good while. And Jack had his best game for us, being constantly in motion and constantly a pain in Coleman's backside, hitting the post once and scoring a well-taken goal. On the other hand Tank had a complete stinker, seldom passing to anyone in red and even managing to mess up almost 100% of his throw-ins (sorry, Alan, but it's true - perhaps it was the fact that the programme singled you out as "One to Watch" which put you off...). Riccy looks positionally exposed as a right back. Our set pieces remain on the crap side of average, and in general we were decidedly lacking in creativity going forward in midfield.

But if you had offered us a 1-1 draw in the pub beforehand we'd have taken it, so we ought to be satisfied enough from a quiet game. Fulham? Neat, nice passing, good intentions. But no penetration - desperately need a new centre forward, I'd say (though presumably Donkeyfield can't be that dire every week). Hayles is dangerous but not prolific enough, and Pescisolido couldn't score in a brothel. Fulham have been top ten or better all season, and they didn't look anything special.
Over to you for some of that consistency, Platty, and we can do the same.


Copyright © 2001 Nottingham Forest F.C.