Seven Points in Seven Days

7 Points From 7 days

A glorious week in the still early season for Nottingham Forest has seen them fly from obscurity to the edge of the playoffs.

After what some regarded as a mini crisis in September, where we struggled in several games including the Derby game, the results against Cardiff, Blackpool and Barnsley in the same week have catapulted the reds back up after the slide in form had been halted against Peterborough.

It’s one of those weeks that make you start to believe. The team is moulding slowly but surely into a unit, players settling in others finding form. Chris Cohen, although one of our longest serving players, is like a new signing since his return from injury. Billy Sharp has settled in, and has started scoring. The only problems remain the defence which is thin on strength in depth, and the discipline which has plagued us all season carries on.

The discipline is a strange one. Simon Cox had got booked in all his early appearance. Adlene Guedioura has had two red cards in consecutive appearances. There are needless yellows coming all round the team and further suspensions will kick in as these slowly accumulate for the likes of Halford, Harding etc. This has bought to us the need for Elliot Ward to be signed. Not just as cover for the injured Ayala, but also in case of the likely further suspensions at the back for others.

The win against Cardiff was particularly pleasing as I am not particularly fond of the south Wales side. I find them particularly abhorrent. So to see them play badly, and in their favoured blue kits of old was pleasing. We were good, make no mistake, but they were also awful. Reid’s free kick was expertly placed, the header moments later by Ayala to put us two up was also great, Halfords cross had been wonderful. And although we wavered at times, mainly after Sharp added a third, allowing Helguson to score and Guedioura getting himself sent off, we remained firm and took what could be a huge win against one of the top teams in the division.

It’s a benchmark to do so well against the likes of Cardiff. To say yeah we can beat the best teams at this level. But then also to getaway and scratch a draw at tricky Blackpool is also a positive. Yes we had the lead, and yes Blackpool were depleted, but we came back late on which shows a resilience that can be only a good thing. Sharps goal was instinct, the ball fired in which he merely manipulated and redirected into the net. Blackpool fired a quick salvo double to put themselves in the driving seat, only for Dexter Blackstock to keep himself in that frame. With Cox and Sharp on form, Blackstock could easily be forgotten, but if he carries on to chip in with goals when he can it’s nothing but a bonus.

And so Barnsley away. A place that hasn’t been the happiest of hunting grounds for Forest. In fact it’s been a bleak place for us. The capitulation under Megson always stands out to me as it illustrated almost a nadir, a low point of my following the club. A wet cold miserable day with a miserable defeat in what became an embarrassing Brazilian away kit.

Saturday though, a few of those demons were laid to rest with a 4-1 win. Make no mistake Barnsley are average at best. They exist to survive at this level. I can’t think of any of their players who’d get on our bench never mind in first XI. But we allowed them the lead. Harewood, who always scored had missed a couple and so was getting some semi playful abuse. It was always going to come back and haunt us. He was played in too easily, raced clear, rounded Camp and scored. Notably he didn’t celebrate at all, making a motion to the Forest fans that he was being understated. Fair play to the lad. He will always be Forest.

Then we woke up. The goals came fast and furious. Halfords poked shot deflected in. From the away end t was hard to tell what happened. The bright sun shining behind the goal blinded us and also put that end in very dark shadow. It looked like at first it had just evaded the keeper. No the deflection was obvious on TV. Then Cox netted from Sharps parried shot. And then very soon after Cohen had fired into the top left from 20 yards to put the game beyond much doubt. The quickness of the goal seemed to have sucked the enthusiasm out of the Tykes. The fans little cheering from a small turnout dwindled. They had a good chance to make it 3-2 in the second when Camp saved well, before what might be Jenas last action in a Forest shirt for now. He was played in, went clear to one on one with the keeper and deftly flicked it over the keeper to make it 4-1, finish the game off, and send half the Barnsley fans home.

So all in all very much a bonus. We briefly went to 6th in the table, before Hull won later in the evening. We are the edge of the top positions; we know we can beat those top teams. And we have come from behind a few times. There is a problem that we are conceding and needing to have to either come from behind or defend a lead. Neither of which make for happy viewing.

But consider a number of our promotion seasons or close seasons started with a blip. Under Frank Clark we didn’t exactly race clear to start with. We snuck under the radar under Calderwood. Even under Davies we never started up the top, starting slowly before steamrolling through the end of the calendar year, having a blip in January and limping through the Spring.

So it will be fascinating to see how this season pans out. We seem to have settled now on the 4-1-3-2 formation, which Gillette has been the fulcrum of. The defence would be settled if not for injuries. The midfield allows for rotation to stop players becoming jaded. The front two of Cox and Sharp look like being the chosen due. So all the moans when we limped through September of we didn’t even know our best formation never mind team seem to have been silenced. We at least know how we want to play, and we have a good idea of who, if only they’d all stop getting suspended, we might have a settled team. There’s still Lansbury to get fully fit yet, and he should genuinely show some class. All bodes well.