26th December
Ewood Park


Mr Dean

Goal One
Frandsen 18 min
Goal Two
Johnson 31 mins
Goal Three
68 mins pen

Blackburn Rovers
Beasant   Kelly
Scimeca   Kenna
Hjelde     Davidson
Doig   Carsley
Gray     Ward
Prutton     Duff
Bart-Williams     Blake
Johnson   Johnson
Brennan   Frandsen
John     Dailly
Harewood     Taylor
Substitutes     Substitutes
Crossley     Fettis
Merino     Grayson
Dawson     Dunn
Williams     Jansen
Quashie     Ostenstad

© Nottingham Forest 1999

The things we do to get you a Report! I have been dragged from my sick bed of Christmas Day and Boxing Day to try and make some sense of todays match.
I must admit I do not care what day it is at the moment, so back to bed and here is Bridport's Report. Oh and I forgot to thank Jacqui Clay for doing our Reserve Match reports and is part of the team.

Forest (3-5-2): Beasant: Scimeca (c), Hjelde, Doig: Gray (Merino 77), Prutton, Bart-Williams (Williams 74), Johnson, Brennan: Harewood, John. Subs not used: Crossley, Dawson, Quashie.

Great ways to spend Boxing Day, Volume 1; spend 90 minutes getting from Junction 17 to 18 on the M6, arrive at Ewood Park having missed 10 minutes of the match, watch Forest lose 2-1, get drenched walking back to the car, drive home through a snowstorm. Why do we do it, eh? Those of you who couldn't make it today might well be sitting there feeling despondent at the moment. The last thing I said after the performance against Crewe was to express a doubt about whether we could continue this recent run of good form when we got away from the City Ground, and you'll have seen that we lost and probably thought "here we go again".
Well take heart; there was much in common today with the performances against Oxford, Fulham and Crewe, and virtually NOTHING in common with the dross we saw away at Crystal Palace. OK, so the result went against us, but the performance was good and we continue to head in the right direction. Don't panic! As I said, the delights of an M6 pile-up on Boxing Day meant that I missed the first ten minutes, so I can't comment on the early exchanges. I am told that Rovers made a bright start but that we had the best chance when Stern John shot wide after 6 minutes (thank you Radio 5 Live for those gems of information). The 80-minute game I saw, however, was a cracker - end to end, lots of attacking from both sides, clean, committed and skillful. There is no way that a neutral who had not read the papers recently would have guessed that these two sides are in the wrong half of the table and supposedly short of confidence.
Rovers took the lead after 19 minutes. The dangerous Per Frandsen won the ball in midfield and started a twenty yard running battle with Bart as he advanced towards the box. Bart realised that he had better give it up as the danger of a penalty loomed ever larger, so Frandsen got free twenty yards out. He cut in, Hjelde stood off for a fraction of a second too long and Frandsen curled a beauty round Lurch into the far corner. Excellent goal. A few weeks ago we would have folded. But not now. We took the game to them and actually dominated for the rest of the first half (can you remember when we could last say that about Forest away from home? - might even be as long ago as our last visit to Ewood Park!).
Firstly Marlon (who had an excellent game - the best I have seen him play for Forest) dispossessed Dailly in the centre and ran towards goal. He managed to get an opportunity wide on the edge of the 6 yard box but was perhaps in two minds about whether to shoot or cross, because he ended up not quite doing either. Then Johnno drove powerfully from 25 yards straight into Kelly's midriff. But we kept on pressing, kept on looking dangerous and on 31 minutes drew level. After some good work from Prutton and Bart in the middle, Jim Brennan got free down the left and curled in a dangerous ball beyond the far post. Marlon did very well to beat the two defenders who were sandwiching him in the air and nodded it down to Johnson on the edge of the D. Johnno didn't even break his stride as he crashed it into the far corner. 1-1, Forest playing well and actually looking a realistic bet to go on and win.
Half time. As an experiment I was sitting in the press box today, which meant that I actually took a few notes (normally I do these things from my head, which might account for a lot...). The two phrases immediately above the half time line are "composed" and "neat". Not a bad description of the way we were playing. Immediately after half time Blackburn pressed a lot (as you would expect), with Damien Duff proving especially dangerous wide on the left. On the whole Andy Gray played well today, and he handled Duff pretty competently, using his pace to shepherd him into less dangerous positions rather than diving in and selling himself for Duff to dance away into space; it was noticeable that Duff caused us a lot more trouble after Gray was taken off. Gradually we came back into it, and the match settled into the pattern it was to have for the rest of the half: Forest with the better possession and Rovers counter-attacking with pace. It was on one of these counter-attacks that the incident came which arguably changed the game. Duff set Ashley Ward free and Riccy Scimeca brought him down 40 yards out. Jim Brennan was at full pace on the left getting back, but he was quite wide out and there was certainly an argument that Scimeca was the last man. The ref, however, saw it differently and booked him, to the disgust (expressed loud and long over the next ten minutes) of the home crowd. So, no sending off and no goal - how can that incident have changed the game? The crowd is how - from that moment on every time anything happened they HOWLED their outrage at how dirty we were, how hopeless the ref was etc etc. When Damien Duff and Jon Hjelde ran beside one another into the box on 67 mins, then, and Duff suddenly collapsed as though hit by a sniper's bullet from the stand, you can imagine the noise demanding a penalty. The linesman didn't flag and there appeared to be no contact whatsoever between defender and attacker, but the penalty was given all the same. Compensation by the referee?
You decide. Suffice it to say that even the august representative of the Blackburn evening paper, who was sitting next to me, shook his head in disbelief. Lee Carsley scored the penalty and Dave Beasant was booked for the protesting way in which he drilled the ball back up the field after picking it out of the net. 2-1. After that we pressed and pressed, but without really putting Kelly under intense pressure. Bart was taken off and replaced by Gareth Williams (for his debut) and Gray replaced by Carlos Merino as we went 4-3-3 for the final 12 minutes. Williams looks very sound - he's tall and strong and showed several nice touches with some intricate close passing with Prutton and Johnson on the right. He is also not short of confidence, since his first touch in league football was a fiercely struck left-foot volley from outside the box. Over, unfortunately, but it shows good intent! As usually happens, we did get one chance - Jim Brennan made yet another dangerous run to the by-line and chipped the ball over the keeper, but alas it eluded the onrushing Marlon's head by millimetres in front of an open goal.
But we couldn't manage it, and the ref walked off to the continued annoyed protests of the Captain, Beasant, Johnson, Hjelde, Steve Wigley and Norman. Platty just looked frustrated (and, Larry-callers, I distinctly saw him applaud the Forest supporters. But then we lost today, so you won't need to invent anything to complain about). So. A good performance, with the same strengths as the past three games at home; movement, passing on the deck, commitment, pace, variation and some good football. Very frustrating because of the penalty fiasco, but all the same more evidence that we are moving steadily in the correct direction and in the correct manner. I thought all our players did OK, but I would single out Bart and Johnno (both of whom I have been swift enough to criticise in the recent past) and especially Marlon and Chris Doig. Marlon was a constant menace and Doig just gets better and better - one exquisite block (if a block can be exquisite) to deny Lee Jansen in the second half was in the Des Walker class.
Keep the faith! If we keep playing like this we will win more often than not. We may have lost today, but there are signs of growing confidence, understanding and the birth of a team.


Copyright © 2001 Nottingham Forest F.C.