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Wednesday, 21 August 2013

Top of the League

The old adage is don’t bother looking at the League Table till Christmas, and don’t be bothered till Easter. To hell with that, we are top of the league!!
But seriously, yes it is early days, but in as strong a message to all the rest of the league, Forest have gone top of the Championship following their third win of three games, with a third clean sheet. It’s almost perfect.
We defeated a strong Bolton team without at times appearing to break sweat. It was strange though, as apart from the 3 goals, we barely troubled Adam Bogdan in the Bolton goal.

Bolton still have a physical edge to their game, Wheater and Knight in defence will always be a strong physical pairing, and to counter we used Halford as an attacking foil. It’s not the first time Davies has used him in that role, with him being used up there last season (I forget which game) Halford similarly is strong and physical in the air, and Davies clearly decided that he would be the best foil up front, rather than Miller or Derbyshire to strike against the towering goliaths of Bolton.

And it was within a minute and a half that the Reds struck, with Mackie getting clear, and finishing past Bogdan. It had been a smart little manoeuvre, and free from his markers there was to be only result for the new signing from QPR.

What impact this had on the game plan I’m not sure. Bolton clearly has a physical defence. And whether the whole match plan was out the window and it allowed Forest more space we’ll never know.

Bolton had a very good chance to equalise however, hitting the woodwork, however Pratley had strayed off side from the free kick, and as they were poised to net, the whistle went and the chance gone.

Second half and early on we scored again, Reid being left free at the back post as the ball came across to finish slightly awkwardly but smartly. 2-0 was possibly a fair reflection. The game had entered a frustrating period whereby the ref let a lot of play flow for what could on another day be blown for. Perhaps it made it better, rather than potentially being very stop start. However it was a case of once they knew the ref was doing it; they’d simply be holding or grabbing more and stopping the playing of the ball. Some Bolton fans have suggested we were as bad, but that seems to overlooking arms clearly round players.

Halford toiled away up front well all afternoon, in a role though not completely alien to him is one he isn’t so accustomed too. The problem as we sign more specialised players in various positions is that the jack of all trades like Halford and others in the past gets pushed aside, which though it means a stronger team, must be disheartening to the player. Halford though, on the contrary, used this as a means to show what he can do, and it the midst of a potential striking crisis with various injuries, put in a shout to be used elsewhere.

The win was rounded off when Lansbury ghosted in back post, and though the finish was not like Reid’s, a diving header by the ex Arsenal player, the positioning and impact was the same. It was the cue around 100 Bolton fans needed to leave.

Pratley also managed to get himself sent off for a challenge that on a booking was frankly ridiculous. Pratley must hate the City Ground, after when playing for Swansea blatantly getting felled when about to score a goal and not getting anything. And that’s forgetting our incessant chase of him for over a year.
A comfortable win, which we ultimately coasted too. The manner of easing off will also mean the players don’t overcook themselves for a couple of hard away games to Watford and Wigan. Should we come out of these games with more than 4 points hell probably 3, then we truly are a force to be reckoned with this season.

Look out Premier League, here we come.

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