Loftus Rd


Mr J.P.Robinson

Goal 1:
Quashie 12 mins
Goal 2:
Kiwomya 75 mins

Crossley     Harper
Louis-Jean   McGovern
Scimeca     Baraclough
Doig     Rose
Brennan     Ward
Prutton   Langley
Quashie Scully
Bart-Williams     Peacock
Rogers     Slade
Freedman   Kiwomya
Gray     Wardley
Substitutes     Substitutes
Goodlad     Miklosco
Harewood   Koejoe
Dawson   Ready
Williams   Bruce
Petrachi     Rowland

© Nottingham Forest 1999/2000


Dougie Freedman
Nigel Quashie
David Prutton  

It's rather difficult to know quite how to react to this game. On the face of it we had the team with the Division's worst away record (us, in case it has slipped anyone's notice) playing at a team with one of the best home records (only 1 defeat all season), so we ought to have entered the match with hope rather than expectation. On the other hand we took the lead early,led for an hour and were the better side until the final quarter, so most of us walked away from Loftus Road feeling disappointed with only a draw. I suppose that is a mark of how well Forest played for much of this match (though it has to be said that, if today was a typical performance, Rangers' excellent home record is something of a mystery). In the end I think the game sums up why we are all so frustrated with this season; QPR are in the top ten and are reasonably well placed to challenge for the final play-off spot, yet they looked pretty ordinary (or maybe even we made them appear so) and you cannot escape the impression that we ought to be far higher up the table than we are.

But the fact remains that we are not, and the table seldom lies by this stage of the year. On the whole, however, especially after last week's poor performance against West Brom, a point was not too bad a return. If you had offered it to me as I was walking out of the Bushranger (away pub of the season so far) at 2:30 I would have taken it gladly, so I will settle for it tonight without too much complaint. A draw was by no means a travesty of a result - Rangers might even have snatched it at the death had it not been for a stupendous Bart-Williams block at the edge of the 6-yard box in injury time. But defeat would certainly have been hard on Forest, and a win would not have flattered them.

With Stern's long-term injury, the return of Tank and Doig, plus suspensions for Hjelde and Beasant after the Grimsby panto ref fiasco, we had a slight shake up today. 4 at the back, 5 across midfield (with Nigel Quashie coming back after a lengthy absence) and Dougie on his own up front. Rangers made a lively start, forcing a couple of early corners, and I was just beginning to wonder if we were in for a painful afternoon's viewing when Dougie broke free on the counter and forced a good save from Harper. This seemed to wake us up nicely, and for about the next hour we played some pretty good stuff, silencing the crowd and forcing Rangers backwards and to play us on the counter-attack. I have always thought that we have looked at our best this season when we press the ball high up the pitch, and today we did that especially well. Many fans (and especially my Dougie-hating neighbour at the City Ground) criticise Freedman for being lazy, but today he put in some serious work, harrying the defence and keeper into hurried clearances, running the width of the pitch to create space and holding the ball up really well for Andy Gray and Tank to run onto. Dougie even won a fair amount in the air, which ain't bad when you consider he is about a foot shorter than both the Rangers centre halves. I would say that this was arguably his best game for the club - certainly for the first half. He was ably supported by the midfield, with Gray and Prutton regularly getting behind the defence on the right, Rogers causing palpitations with his pace and even Nigel Quashie getting forward into the box far more often than earlier in the season.

Not only that, but after 12 minutes Forest scored their first headed goal from a set piece since (I think) van Hooijdonk's against the Sheep about a year ago - wonders never cease! Tank was brought down about 20 yards out on the left, just wide of the box. He stepped over the ball, Bart fired in a cross with some pace on it (AT LAST!), Harper came for a ball which he was never going to get anywhere near and Nigel Quashie looped a gentle header over him into an empty net for his first league goal for Forest. Since this was his first game back at Loftus Road since he signed for us, Quashie was getting the normal ritual abuse from the home support, so doubtless he particularly enjoyed scoring to shut them up. Cue the first rendition of "You've Lost That Loving Feeling" for what feels like months and the first rendition of "There's only one Nigel Quashie!" and the hastily-adapted Nigel Clough chimes that I think I have ever heard! (But then this was a day for rarely-heard Forest songs - I distinctly heard a pro-Freedman effort at one stage, which must be a first. I also liked the "We hate Derby, we hate Leicester" song which changed into a "We hate Derby, we've got Lester"

[Whilst we are on about surprises, we had a decent ref today (can't tell you his name because I didn't manage to get a programme). Not a single booking (though one nasty two-footed challenge on Prutton in the second half looked well worthy of one), not too fussy about trivia and a pleasing willingness to let the game flow. Well done, Mr Whoever You Were.]

For the rest of the first half, though Chris Kiwomya's pace was always dangerous on the break, Forest controlled the game pretty well. Tank had a rasping shot well saved by Harper, Dougie had a reasonable penalty claim turned down (not by any means cast iron, but I have certainly seen them given - at Grimsby, for a start!), Gray and Bart showed some excellent skills out wide to create a couple of half chances and generally we were playing pretty well and the game seemed to be there for the taking; you got the feeling that a second Forest goal would have been decisive. We weren't all over them, or anything like that, but this was almost unrecognisable from the clueless disorganised stuff we witnessed only a week ago against the Baggies. Words like "disciplined", "committed" and "well-organised" kept drifting into my head, which was a novelty!

After half time for a while we continued in much the same vein, without creating more than the occasional half chance for the excellent Gray, getting up in support of the Doog-meister. Gradually, though, from about the hour mark onwards, Rangers began to come into it much more. For a start they began to play it on the deck more often - in the first half they had been neat enough in midfield, but their final ball was often a high one, which Riccy and Doig snaffled up with ease. As they began to attack us more down the flanks they had more of the game, but still our defence seemed happy enough - Norman had not had single save to make in the second half.

But after 70-odd minutes the guy in the seat next to me was silly enough to open his mouth. He, conceivably over-fortified by a tad too much London Pride beforehand, had spent much of the half nodding his head onto his chest. His mates behind him prodded him awake, and he replied by saying "My work is done - we have won this one". I turned to raise a dubious eyebrow at him.... and looked up to see Chris Kiwomya with the ball at his feet advancing on Norm. One neat finish with the outside of his foot later and Rangers were level with their first proper shot of the second half. No idea about the build up, because I was looking away, but it was a well taken goal. 15 seconds from gloating fan to equaliser!

It is at this point that I part company with my post-match drinking partners. They reckon that we ought to have put on another forward and gone for it because we could still have won. I can see that point of view, but equally I can well understand why Platty didn't do that, with our away record and the fact that a change of formation might just have easily have resulted in a QPR victory as we gave up more space in midfield. One that you could argue either way - though there is certainly no doubt that playing up front on your own for 90 minutes is extremely hard work, so there might have been a case for replacing the tiring Dougie with Marlon for the final 15 minutes. Whatever. We didn't change anything, and held out comfortably enough (allowing for a dodgy Norm punch that he was lucky to see rebound into his arms and Bart's tremendous goal-saving block right at the death). Neither side, in truth, looked like going on to win.

So. Not bad at all. A MAJOR improvement on last week. Nobody played badly, and I thought Dougie, Gray and especially Bart (again) were outstanding. A word for Quashie, too - there is no doubt that he has had a disappointing season and that his form dropped alarmingly in about November - many internet regulars have given up on him. Today, though, he played a much more progressive game than we have seen from him, and looked a far better player as a result. At the end of last season most of us thought Andy Gray had little future with us, and only 6 or 7 weeks ago the majority of us couldn't wish Bartman out of the club fast enough - but in recent weeks both Gray and Bart have been excellent. On that basis, and on the basis that he is still only 22,I haven't yet given up on Nigel Q either.

A couple of final thoughts. Norm was today wearing a tee-shirt which read "Whatever happens to me" on the front and "I will always love you, the Forest fans" on the back. And he threw his shirt into the crowd at the end. Does something tell me that he is not expecting to sign a new contract and fears that today might be his final game for the club? Just an idea (but don't expect Premiership wages down here, Norm). The other thing is that on my way down to Dorset I heard a Cambridge fan on the radio saying that Martin Butler had done much the same as Norm today, giving the impression that he too might not be at the Abbey for much longer. Given the fact the Martin "I've-agreed-terms-with-Forest-but-want-an-extra-day-to-see-my-sick-sister-oooops-I-appear-to-have-signed-for-Huddersfield" Smith is no longer an option and that we have publicly expressed an interest in Butler in the recent past, is there anything you want to tell us, Platty?


Copyright © 2001 Nottingham Forest F.C.