A winning start to the season is rare emotion for a Forest fan to consider. We haven’t even scored on the opening day for 6 years. The giddy heights of optimism from starting out well are a feeling we certainly had before (Kevin Campbell opening day hat trick at Coventry anyone?) but not for longer than I can remember.
So to open this campaign with a tight victory that we could all too easily have given away is a welcome bonus. There were plenty of reasons to be cheerful as the title suggests, I’ll probably end up dwelling on those not to be.
We started with 4-5-1, that’s really more of a 4-1-3-1-1 formation with Majewski in the hole, Blackstock being the figured head. He’s a strong and holds possession well so is perfect for the role in a way Matt Derbyshire could only dream of. Following Ayala getting an injury, Halford moved to centre half, and Gillett came into the side to play the rechristened “Paul McKenna role” which means gets a lot done but no-one really notices it and thinks’ he’s crap because some passes go backwards. Almost a thankless role really.
The second half was mostly forgettable. Chances few and far between, indeed the main talking point was the actions of former player Greg Cunningham becoming the villain of the piece by trying to take advantage of a drop ball and sprint at goal. To be slightly fair to Greg this situation shouldn’t been allowed to happen, the sides should have agreed we play it back to their keeper as happens in most cases, we seemed to think we should get the ball. This lead to a confrontation where Reid shoved Cunningham, arms potentially slightly rose but no sense of a punch. Reid was booked; Cunningham was booked, over nothing. Apparently Bristol City commentators thought Reid should have, McInnes on their bench seemingly also thought so, but he seems to think every decision should go his way.
As I said the rest of the first half was mostly dull, a couple of opportunities here and there, and definite indicator of playing style that every time the ball was with Camp it was played out short to a defender. It will be a passing team, with no big booming goal kicks for everyone to chase. Which although there could be a worry about Arsenal esque intricate play where we try to pass the ball into the goal, we have McGugan and Guedioura, who also like to shoot from anywhere within their range, and their range is 40 yards.
The second half was a better half but could have been going the way of the first till we happened to break 5 v 3, and couldn’t fail so score. It came a few minutes after bringing on Cox for his debut, after he started on the bench. Reid was breaking, passed it to the right wing slot where Cox centred and Guedioura from 10 yards or so netted and ran off to celebrate in front of the Trent End. He certainly looked like he enjoyed it.
City had an excellent opportunity to equalise however, when a centred ball went all the way across the goal. I sit in the Trent End so it was impossible to see how close it had been for myself. Thad come from a Radi error and on that note, he remains that frustrating enigma. Obvious ability, but so often he seems to pass to a team mate when he’s in trouble, but that team didn’t want it or called it as they are surrounded. Just seems like passing the buck. Additionally McGugan had broken into the area at one point and rather than square it seemed to be waiting to draw a foul, and went down very easily when said challenge, which was fair, came in. Both our creative playmakers with extremely frustrating traits that seem somewhat selfish and need to be stopped.
So who was good and bad? Well despite all the above grumbles, no-one was bad. Everyone had a solid game. There were some vague problems that will be ironed out though as the first few weeks fly by. The defence looked solid. Collins extremely capable at the back with Halford. Camp wasn’t given a great deal to do. Gillett looked good in the deep midfield role, we lack width, but we all knew would, and there’s no real pace in the team at the moment. Blackstock played his role brilliantly, no more could be asked from him. Cox set up a goal on his debut, fair enough. Couple of players looked leggy at the end, but it seems we’re building enough of a squad to cope with that, that there will be cover for when that happens.