Mr Jones

Goal 1
Hignet pen 56 mins

Crossley   Miller
Louis-Jean   Eaden
Chettle   Appleby
Hjelde     Jones
Scimeca   Hignett
Bart-Williams Shipperley
Freedman   Bullock M
Bonalair   Sheron
Harewood   Thomas
Prutton   Morgan
Brennan Barker
Substitutes     Substitutes
Beasant   Tinkler
Merino     Bullock T
Woan   Hristov
Freeman   Dyer
Petrachi   van der Laan

© Nottingham Forest 1999

Frustrating, isn't it? But if WE feel like this, imagine how the players and the manager must feel. Barnsley have an excellent home record (though, frankly, it is hard to see why on today's evidence) and I went expecting them to really have a go at us. In the end they won thanks to a penalty which can best be described as "iffy". We deserved a point (not three, but certainly one), but yet again we come away with nothing. Not booed off today, though, which probably constitutes some sort of progress. Tank's minor injury kept him out and Quashie was suspended after the Bramall Lane fiasco, so we gave a debut to Jim Brennan at left back and moved Riccy forward into midfield. Brennan is entitled to feel pretty satisfied with his debut (apart from the result, of course) - he looks a sound buy. He didn't do as much in attack as his reputation suggests he is capable of, but a touch of caution going forward is understandable in your first game, and in defence (which is, after all, what we pay him for) he did very well; solid in the tackle (and staying on his feet, too), good at pushing players wide, decent distribution, and (on the couple of occasions when Hignett did get round him) quick to recover and tackle back. As a result we looked much better balanced at the back. I look forward to seeing him in partnership with Tank.... ...because Bart is not a winger, I'm afraid. It is easy to understand why we played him on the left today, but we have seen him out there too often over the years, and he rarely convinces in a wide role, unlike in the middle. He was anonymous on the wing, and was taken off. The first half was pretty even - both sides working hard in swirling wind and a slippery surface, both defences easily dealing with whatever came. Our closest effort was a run and left foot shot from Dougie, theirs an abject header well wide from Shipperley after ML-J slipped to allow him the chance; good to see Shippo hasn't changed. Neither keeper was exactly rushed off their feet. After half time Barnsley stepped up the pace for 15 minutes, but Norm had still only had to make one save (an excellent one from a fierce Sheron drive) when the game changed after an hour. A through ball was played into the right hand edge of Forest's box, Hignett chased it, Hjelde came across to cover and appeared to win the ball cleanly with a sliding tackle and play it behind for a corner. Hignett went over his leg. Penalty. Now on balance the ref had a pretty decent game today (showing common sense in the conditions when a Jobsworth could have booked half a dozen players), but he got this one wrong, I'm afraid. Yes, I was at the opposite end of the ground. Sure, I'd have to see it on the TV to be certain. But it didn't look remotely like a pen from where we were, and the reaction of Riccy, Hjelde, Norm and Chet, who all beseiged the ref, suggests they agreed with the fans. I also spoke to a couple of Barnsley fans after the game, and they agreed - clean tackle, Hignett played for a penalty and got it. Dodgy. Needless to say Hignett got up and sent Norm the wrong way. For ten minutes after that we were ineffectual, and you could hear the boo-boys warming up. Luca came on for Bart, but even he wasn't achieving much on the left wing. So he and Bonalair swapped wings, and suddenly we looked a different team. AT LAST Forest showed us that they can step up a gear, can pour forward and force a string of corners, can attack with some vigour - all the more so when Woany came on for Bonalair with 10 mins to go. Miller in the Barnsley goal was beaten by a Hjelde header from a corner - not certain it was going in, but Dougie was about to poke it in at the far post when the full back cleared it off the line. Then Miller made a good low save at his near post from a well struck Luca free kick. Finally he saved well from a fierce Woan shot from a narrow angle. Barnsley were reduced to hoofing it anywhere, and we were even treated to the rare sight of Norm up in the opposition box for a couple of corners. But they held out. How were the players? I have already talked about Brennan (good) and Bart (anonymous out of position). Norm was excellent. Hjelde had another good game. Chet defended well but showed some poor distribution (which is why I prefer Riccy at the back). ML-J was sound - in fact we defended pretty well throughout. In midfield Riccy was fine, but not as inspiring as he is at the back - why waste an excellent defender by using him as an OK midfielder? (I know why today, but this is a general point). Prutton played very well, I thought - he is growing in confidence with his running at defences with the ball, he worked his socks off and one exquisite 40-yard diagonal ball right into Dougie's stride was the best bit of skill of the afternoon - Dougie pulled it wide on the half volley, but that's not Prutton's fault. On the right wing Bonalair was about as much use as Bart on the left. I'm afraid. Put it this way; the midfield we finished with (Luca, Prutton, Riccy and Woan) looked three times as threatening as the one we started with (Bonalair, Prutton, Riccy and Bart). I understand why we should want to bring Luca and Woan back gently after injury (look what happened last time we rushed Petrachi straight back), but now that we have a week off, let's hope we can play Luca and either Tank or Woan on the left from the start at Norwich next week. What does that leave? You guessed it. The strikers. After he had played so well in midweek, I'm am afraid Marlon reverted to his previous incarnation today. Big strong boy, and quick, but not good in the air and curiously tentative in 50:50 balls. He was taken off (much to the displeasure of the anti-Freedman boys - but in truth Marlon wasn't playing well either). David Freeman replaced Marlon for his debut and looked skillful and quick, but he is even smaller than Dougie, so won zero in the air and was not given much change by the muscular central defence. Good one for the future maybe - wouldn't be fair to judge on 20 minutes' exposure. Answer to our current problems up front? Definitely not. And Dougie? Sigh. Clearly Dougie is destined to be one of those players the crowd simply don't like. People like me can point out until we are blue in the face that he scores goals and that he does lots of good things amongst the things they boo at (more good things than bad, in my humble opinion)... but in the end the fans don't think he is good enough, and that's a shame. Whether the boos and constant criticism are effecting his confidence I don't know - but the guy would have to be made of stone for it not to get to him soon. So. Nothing new, really. WE NEED A STRIKER. Someone with some presence who can hold the ball up, win at least some balls in the air (and, of course, score goals). You never know, Dougie might even look a different man alongside him..... We can point to a decent defensive performance and the fact that they won with a dubious pen. But in tomorrow's paper it will still say we lost. Which is why it is so frustrating.



Copyright © 2001 Nottingham Forest F.C.