Well despite what many were claiming when we were behind on Twitter and Facebook, this side and performance had little to do with Alex McLeish, the new Forest manager. The team had been chosen by Rob Kelly and Jimmy Hasselbaink, and although McLeish had attended training he’d left it largely to his existing backroom staff to look after the team as he evaluated what he had.
|Formation and team v Palace|
The team itself was largely what we played against Leeds. There was an enforced changed with Hutton being out ill, so Harding came in at left back, and Halford back to right back. Losing the marauding runs Hutton had made would be a loss, but the team as a whole was the same side and structure that had played so well particularly in that second half against Leeds.
But like versus Leeds we went behind, to a goal that was very similar to the goal Leeds had scored. Turning out to be a simple finish in the area after poor defensive work left the striker free and players committed.
If that seemed to mimic the Leeds game so did the timing of our equaliser. Reid netting a wonderful 20 or so yarder that flew in. A wonderful goal. And similarly to Leeds we went in at the break after dominating a period of the match and looked on top. Silencing vocal away support in the process.
The second half though wouldn’t see such a persistent period of domination and most importantly goals like the Leeds game did. It had chances; yes we went close with a few chances. Closest came Collins with a header which was turned over by Speroni turning in his annual wonder appearance against Forest. I don’t see Speroni every week, but he can’t be this good every time otherwise Palace would be the Champions of the Universe if he was. He also made a very good save from a deflected shot, completely having to alter his position mid dive and turn the ball round the post.
And because this game had been so finely poised and with Forest doing perhaps the slightly harder knocking on the door of course Palace went up the other end and scored what looked like it could be a winner. It had more than an element of luck. It seemed more a hopeful jab at a ball in midair that saw the ball come to him, but with decent invention from this chance Murray headed it high over Camp and into the back of the net.
It looked like it might beat us, and as fans started to trickle out the ground it looked like being one of those days. A lot of toil for no result, but lo and behold up stepped the new King Billy. After a looping ball up was flicked on by Blackstock, Sharp got in, and put his first effort against the post, but was able to score at the second attempt and give Forest what they deserved for their efforts.
I think a win for either team may have been harsh. So to claim the share of the spoils was certainly as I say fair. Palace have said they could and should have won according to Holloway, but I think that’s overlooking the evenness of the game with most of it perched on a knife edge.
All in all though there was a lot to please. For one we didn’t roll over accept a late defeat, we kept going to the end and got the goal. Furthermore we created a wide variety of chances with efforts coming from all over the team. The usual defensive lapses were there but there was some quality blocking at the back as well. We are definitely one or two key signings from a complete unit. And if McLeish can get those signings then we will be in an extremely good position.
A word for the much maligned Dan Harding as well who I also think marshalled Wilfried Zaha very well, and eventually saw the highly rated winger off and replaced.