Nowadays, the general feeling creeping into Forest home games is that whatever happens, we just won’t lose. I suppose you can’t blame us when you consider that before yesterday’s match, it was 31 league games at the City Ground since we last succumbed to defeat.
This week’s visitors were Portsmouth, a team that we have lost to 6 times in our last 6 meetings.
But confidence was high among Forest fans.
Pompey’s money troubles meant Michael Brown and Richard Hughes were forced to miss the game, as one more game in a Pompey shirt would trigger a clause in their contracts which would see them both automatically get new deals. Greg Halford and Dave Kitson also missed the game through suspension.
Forest made two changes to the side that beat Preston last weekend, with Tudgay and Majewski coming in for McGoldrick and McGugan.
With such news on the teams, I drove to the game thinking we were going to win 3 or 4-nil.
Pompey won the toss pre-kick off and elected to make Forest attack the Trent End – a decision which would mean the heavy wind would be in Pompey’s favour at least for the opening 45 minutes.
But the game proved slow inside the opening 20 minutes with both sides seeming happy to give possession away to each other.
Anderson had our first real chance by testing Jamie Ashdown with a 25 yard shot.
But it was slack defending from Gunter that lead to Pompey taking the lead on 25 minutes. Gunter slipped with the ball and set in David Nugent down the left wing. Nugent cut the ball back for Kanu who galloped into our box, wriggled the ball around Camp and then held off three of our defenders before coolly slotting it into the empty goal. It was a great goal but the defending on our part was woeful.
Moments later, Pompey came close again after Moussi conceded a free kick. Liam Lawrence – who we all know has something of a dislike for this club having been released as a young boy – stepped up to take a curling free kick that was superbly kept out of the goal by Camp.
As the half progressed though, it seemed as if Pompey didn’t want the lead as they kept tamely putting the ball into our path only for us to then mess up.
Joel Lynch turned into Ronaldinho at one stage, by running with the ball and proceeding to dance through their team before eventually being thwarted. Tudgay also had a corner fall perfectly into his path, only for him to control it and smash it well over from 8 yards right on half time.
In the second half, Forest was still making little progress and within ten minutes of the restart Davies brought on Tyson and McGugan for Raddy and Earnie – which in the end turned out to be inspired substitutions.
Within minutes of Tyson coming on, he cut inside from the right and thumped a shot from the edge of the box that seemed to clip the top of the bar and just go over. The signs of a comeback were beginning to finally show.
Forest then introduced Dele to the fold in place of Anderson with twenty minutes left, to effectively do the Kanu role for our team – something which we seemed to be lacking all game.
We kept pushing on and when McGugan came close with a free kick, our pressure nearly came to nothing. Pompey broke on the counter attack with Lawrence, only for him to hit the ball wildly into the Trent End instead of cutting it across for his teammate.
It was shaping up to be one of them afternoons where no matter what we did, it wouldn’t go in - almost like our last home league defeat to Blackpool in September 2009.
Fortunately for us, lady luck arrived on the scene in the nick of time - just as she did against Barnsley. McGugan drilled in a cross from the right and with Dele putting pressure on Sonko, Sonko was seemingly forced to deflect the ball past his own goalkeeper to make it 1-1 with 3 minutes of normal time left to go. Sighs of relief could be heard all around the ground.
Forest’s confidence then hit its peak with everyone bar Camp getting forward.
In the dying seconds of injury time McGugan picked up the ball near the half way line and clipped it into the box. Marcus Tudgay got his head on the ball and looped his header over Jamie Ashdown to seal the win - Cue scenes of jubilation and chants of “ole, ole, Tudgay” among the Forest faithful.
I bet them folk who rushed for the exit before our equaliser were left kicking themselves.
And that was that. Another excellent result and another game unbeaten at home – although at times during the game, I felt our home form was becoming an unnecessary burden on the team. Nonetheless, I feel it was the right result considering the amount of possession and chances we had.
With us also getting a late winner for the second week in a row, things seem to be going perfectly at this moment in time.
Here’s hoping we’re toasting another win over Derby this time next week.