Following the dual wins against Ipswich and Wednesday the renewed optimism and verve around the team is palpable. We face what could be a troublesome fixture against a struggling Wolves team on Saturday that could be a challenge as they scrap for survival, but the confidence that oozes from this team right now makes me doubt that. The Reds went to Sheffield, and beat Wednesday in a very convincing first half performance, and although by the end we were holding on a little, Wednesday didn’t really look like scoring. The same almost with a resolute Ipswich team. Hard to break down, but eventually we ground out the result.
The Owls get it completely wrong in the first half, and the two teams set ups saw Forest run rampant, and probably should have scored more than the now inevitable Majewski goal. It was a wonderful goal too, a great team move and unselfish play that led to Majewski having a comparatively easy slot home to put us one up and ultimately give us the three points.
The wonders of the current middle 3 being so interchangeable are that it makes them hard to mark as they can switch intermittently in their role. Though none are explicitly the central or the wide man, the set up sees Lansbury pull right and Majewski left, with Reid given space to play his passes to the two front men, with Guedioura coming in behind. But that’s simplifying it. They react to the pitch in front of them and pop up anywhere, making them very hard to defend. Certainly hard to man mark.
When Wednesday did get it right putting on a extra pacey wide man it forced us to adapt, to keep the midfielders in check to cover for the extra forwards and wide play, pulling Lansbury to help cover Jara, and Majewski to cover Cohen. Johnson meant that two pacey wide men were involved as well as Antonio, and between the two they created more forward play if not chances.
That said Darlow didn’t have a great deal to do, what he did he mostly did right, although his parry out at one point in second half could have caused a problem, the Reds always looked relatively comfortable. Even bringing on Lascelles to cover for Collins, though he could have given away a penalty for hand ball. There were a couple of calls for penalties for ball to hand type incidents and to be honest yes I have seen some of them given, but that doesn’t make them right.
A word on Collins, back in the side in Halford absence, he has become the easy man to dislike, in the way that Forest fans just have to have at least one unpopular player in the side. Gillett and Collins seemed to be archetypal of the loss of form in January/ February, and therefore have become the target of often quite unfair abuse. Collins of course was instrumental in the early season in settling down the defence in its infancy of being together, and yes he suffered a loss of form, but there's no need when he was announced in the team to be hyper critical and for some to even suggest they’d hoped he had played his last game for the club. And like it or not he is the club captain so was always going to get the arm band. For one he is a vocal contributor at the back. Too often people just think the longest serving player should be the captain, but that simply isn’t a great policy for choosing who should be the leader on the pitch. Davies is an expert at identifying his teams leaders, so if he stuck by Collins, and if he chose him to play, then get behind him,, Davies knows more than me or you, so if he thinks he should play, then play. Lascelles hasn’t played much competitive football this year, and is relatively inexperienced, to chuck him in there could well have been costly. And a few months at Stevenage don’t equate to experience before anyone tries to fire that one at me.
The Ipswich game was a tougher cookie to crack. That was until they decided to start getting themselves sent off. On an extremely misty night where from my Trent End seat the Bridgford End goal was quite often impossible to see clearly, the Reds eventually prevailed against 9 men Ipswich.
Ipswich had a call for penalty that some were adamant was in the box, following a foul I believe by Majewski. It was right on the border, and although their player fell in the box, the initial foul and contact was right on the edge. In my view the right call, I haven’t seen any replays though. Apparently the Sky Sports News reporter at the ground was adamant it was a penalty.
He was also adamant that martin shouldn’t have been sent off despite lashing out at Lansbury. Admittedly Lansbury did over react in going down, but it achieved the aim of getting Martin dismissed. He may or may not have gotten away with it had Henri not reacted. Basically had he stayed on feet the manager would not have been forced to act in the same way. That said Martin should have been booked for a challenge on Guedioura just before, which wasn’t even a free kick somehow.
And when the second red came for Stearman for what was a stupid yellow, it should have been easy. Ipswich though completely changed their team model to defend at all costs. The point which they’d have been pleased with was now all they could really hope for, and so they attempted to keep what they had. Credit to Mick McCarthy who has supported both decisions to a certain degree.
In that regard with a rigid rear guard to break down, and our incessant desire to pass the ball into the goal all night, the game required something different. Step forward Lewis McGugan. In a game with a packed defence we needed someone not afraid to take that shot on that might not be on. Guedioura aside, this time mostly shoot with clear opportunities. Majewski although scoring from range, is usually when he had space to compose, Lewis at his best doesn’t need much space, just that split second to see it’s on and it hit, like the goals from two years ago, often a shot out of nothing.
And with all that build up, a heavily deflected almost mis-hit left shot from McGugan won it. Leaving the keeper stranded, the ball went in. It should have been easily 3 points wrapped up. Go on and get a second whilst Ipswich have to come out of their shell a little. However we sat back and passed around in defence with minutes left. Indeed when 6 minutes went up I was almost fearing the worst. The old demons of not holding on, and giving up leads still haunt us. But it seems under Davies maybe they have been banished. Ipswich had chances, none clear cut, but chances. We simply tried to time waste despite a two man advantage rather than try to see the game out. Ipswich fans taunted this with cries of “we only have 9 men” and they were right to do so. We shouldn’t be holding on at home against Ipswich with 9 men, that’s a simple fact.