17 years is a long time in football. To think of football in them days compared to today, the progress and changes made are frightening.
It’s even more frightening to think that 17 years ago was also the last time Forest won a game in Derby as well as the fact we’ve never won a game at Pride Park – something Derby fans like to point out on a frequent basis in any Forest/Derby debate.
But all that changed with Saturday’s visit to Pride Park.
24 days after we sent the Rams to the slaughter in our 5-2 win at the City Ground, Derby was looking for obvious revenge.
Forest made two changes to the team who beat Portsmouth last week – correct changes may I add. In came McGugan and Tyson following there excellent cameos off the bench last week with Earnshaw and Raddy forced to make way.
The changes meant Forest would line up 4-5-1 with Anderson and Tyson in their standard advanced wing positions to support lone striker Tudgay.
I was saying all week, the key to this match was who’d score the first goal. If we got there first, we’d kill Derby’s confidence immediately. If they did, the match would be a repeat of last season.
The first half seemed to set the agenda for the game. A lively end to end encounter with commitment running throughout both teams – no one more so than Guy Moussi.
Forest had started very brightly – literally cutting Derby up in two as we ran through their defence.
A big penalty shout happened inside the opening 10 minutes, when an Anderson corner saw Joel Lynch shoved over by Leacock. The referee wasn’t having any of it – although he didn’t really have any of it all afternoon as he was poor.
15 minutes in and a clumsy challenge by Barker presented Forest with a free kick almost 30 yards out. Up stepped McGugan to smash a low free kick towards Bywater’s left hand corner. Bywater managed to get a hand onto it and Derby promptly cleared the ball away for a throw in. I honestly thought when McGugan hit it, it was going in – at least that’s what it looked like from where I was sat. Watching the chance back though, I didn’t realise how much of a routine stop it was for Bywater.
Another McGugan free kick fell to us shortly after from closer in. This time he promptly blasted the ball miles over Bywater's goal. In fairness, I don’t know why Cohen didn’t take it considering the distinct gap between Bywater and his man on the post. A left footed player like Cohen could have definitely curled something in between the two.
We started the better team and looked the side more likely to take something from the game.
But the biggest chance of the half was in Derby’s favour. Commons – who had been shut out totally by Moussi and Gunter – clipped a ball over for Addison. With Wes in a more advanced position, it looked like he’d get to the ball first and clear it. Unbelievably, Addison chased Wes down and after a tussle, the ball slipped through Wes’ legs to set Addison well in on goal. Camp ran out to stop Addison having a shot but he cut the ball back for Porter who had an empty goal and Chambers to shoot at. Fortunately, he hit the ball at Chambers before Lynch promptly smashed the rebound away for a throw in.
It was real heart in the mouth stuff for all Forest fans and I couldn’t believe we had stopped it going in. Some fans claimed Wes had been pushed by Addison, which he had, although I did think it was really poor defending.
At half time it was 0-0 and despite us having the edge, I’d have gladly taken a point back to Nottingham.
Second half and Forest had a glorious opportunity to take the lead. Cohen broke away and passed the ball into Tudgay. Tudders then hit a pass first time into McGugan who’s excellent first touch put him in between two Derby defenders and one on one with Bywater. His shot was then placed right into Bywaters gloves - an absolute sitter of a chance that left me cursing he should have done a lot better.
Then came the moment that had every Forest fan sarcastically cheering. Robbie Savage was subbed less than 9 minutes into the second half and proceeded to sulk as he went off, throwing his boots at the ground. The only thing that’d top that would be a Forest goal.
It’s at this stage I’d also like to mention how fantastic Moussi was. He had cut off a lot of supply for Derby all afternoon and largely shut out their whole midfield. He was literally bulldozing his way through some of their players – none of them could get a sniff. Regular readers on Soccer24-7 will know I am not his biggest fan at all but he was nothing short of sensational. Same can be said for Tyson as well – his pace terrified the Derby defence. It has to be said both are putting up excellent cases for new contracts in the summer.
For the second week running, on came a substitute who’d change the game. Rob Earnshaw came on in place of Tudgay to offer something different up top. As you can imagine, the reception Derby gave Earnshaw wasn’t a resounding one.
The sub didn’t take full effect just yet. Ben Davies hit a volley that forced Camp into a world class stop.
And then the moment came. Tyson out ran Brayford for the umpteenth time that afternoon and cut a cross for Anderson who was just outside the box. Anderson headed the ball down and Earnshaw hit a half volley on the turn just outside the D of the Derby box. The ball was just out of Bywater’s reach and flew into his bottom left hand corner. What followed was one of the biggest celebrations of a Forest goal I’ve ever experienced.
With 11 minutes left to go, Derby went all out attack but couldn’t break us down with the Moose clearing up everything coming his way.
Barker had a header from an in swinging free-kick that forced Camp into another great stop but that was the last time they tested our goal.
6 minutes were shown on the board for injury time – where they got that from I have no idea and they proceeded to tick by so slowly.
The injury time did allow Dean Moxey to get himself a second yellow card for a needless foul on Earnshaw.
But then finally the whistle was blown. The players and Davies came over and applauded the fans and celebrated the win. Camp then came out again 10 mins later with the Brian Clough Trophy to the delight of the 4500 Forest fans kept behind by the police.
17 years of hurt finally brought to an abrupt end and it was almost 21 years to the day since we last did the double over Derby.
Things don’t get much better than that.