To be honest, I had a bad feeling about this from the moment the draw was made.And when my mate asked me if I wanted a ticket I was a little reticent to go.
My blind optimism swayed me that surely we'd not let this lot beat us. But as yesterday approached there was nagging doubt in my head and walking to the ground,(well running really) I had decided I wasn't too fussed either way what happened.
Well what happened was one hell of a roller-coaster ride that although doesn't exactly send a strong message to rivals, we still went through and came back from behind twice. Yeah there was a lot of luck involved, but it still needed a kind of toughness to drag this match back from the brink.
Sat in a completely different part of the Trent End to my usual high Upper Tier perspective I found the early exchanges quite hard to follow. My brain adjusting to a more pitch level view. What view I definitely had is that Anderson should have put us ahead,but somehow early on contrived to skew wide from close in. A stronger touch would have won it. But Football is never that simple.
County began to turn the screw,and really piled on the pressure. Several close range efforts and Smith saves, a couple of scrambles, and then it came. A goal, from Mike Edwards. County deserved it,we hadn't looked our best.
But that goal seemed to wake us up a bit. Forest started to make some chances, and Reid got more of the ball on his cultured left foot to whip balls in. The equaliser though, was pure McGugan. A free kick was awarded and he put the ball perfectly into the top corner with an unstoppable shot put Forest level.
And straight after we had another chance,Majewski dispossessed (yes Majewski tackling someone, I struggle to believe it typing this now) and his shot skewed wide. 3Minutes later we had the ball in the goal from Findlay,only for it to be disallowed for offside,as he headed in Cohen's cross.
Second half and County started very strong and immediately kept us under pressure. Several more goal mouth scrambles and close calls had the Forest fans very worried, but those worries were allayed not long after when Robbie Findley scored his first ever Forest goal of hopefully many. From the far end it was hard to see what really happened as most at our end struggled to realise it had gone in at all. The cross he finished came in from Reid. He could have had another not longer later with an effort well saved by Nelson
And then it meandered for a while. County having a number of good chances again, and Forest having half chances. McGugan was replaced and that seemed to make Forest lose direction. And it was no surprise Forest old boy Craig Westcarr netted an equaliser, after a mixture of jeers and applause when he came on as substitute. The ground had an air of resignation before and after the goal,like we knew it was going to happen.
Extra Time,and without our key outlet Forest looked rudderless and idea less.So Lee Hughes scoring County's 3rd was always going to happen. It was a very well taken goal that despite what you think about him and what his past involves, his quality was there for all to see.
People around me started to filter out, we couldn't see a way back in,and as the board went up,it looked pointless. Then Wes just put his ball through the ball and and it flew like a rocket into the top corner, and we all went nuts. I was laughing at the guys who had left from next tome, when they came running back.That blast was the very last kick of the match before we went into penalties.
I can't really recall ever being at a shootout before, but it was tense. Especially as Greening missed the first kick. Until Hamza Bencherif stepped up it didn't look good. Bencherif didn't look confident and I always have reservations about the guy who is just going to blast it. They always seem to blaze it high, and he obliged. For Forest, Findley,Garner and Tudgay netted their kicks,and then the calm experienced head stepped up, and Boateng missed with a poor penalty. Hughes then approached. At this stage I though that's it, it's all over, he won't miss. He skied it too. Quite badly. And so sudden death, Chambers stepped up, netted and then Bishop, their captain took their next kick, and missed. We won,and that's all that mattered anymore. Not the crap performance,not the stress,the sheer relief that we had utterly got out of jail and in a weekend known for looting it felt like we had done the ultimate smashand grab and escaped red-handed.
It won't be remembered by us in the same way County would have they won. Had Wes not decided "right,screw this I'm going to belt this". Come May most of us will have forgotten this epic battle of the Trent Two. But by god it was entertaining.