King Darius Rises For Late Win

It isn’t very often in life I refer to an ancient Persian King in a title of a Nottingham Forest blog article, but there we go, that’s the beauty of this. Forest left it late against Barnsley on Saturday to seal the 3 points, with a win that was more than deserved. After all we hit the woodwork 3 times in this game additionally to the goals.
That maybe unfair on a decent Barnsley side that look better than last year’s model. Although their own goals were from dead ball situations they did occasionally look dangerous on the attack.

The main element of pre match conversation would be who replaced Guedioura, the Frenchman Moussi getting that nod. Some had thought we may go to a flatter 4 in midfield with Abdoun and Paterson wide with Reid and Lansbury pulling deeper than usual. But now, the narrow diamond remained, with Moussi at its base, Majewski spearheading it, with Reid and Lansbury making up the rest. Cohen remained at left back, and Cox replaced the auxiliary striker that was Halford up front.

We had the better early chances, Mackie getting in clear behind the defence seeing the veteran Pollitt save his effort, and Cox hitting the post from a lovely little move involving Lansbury and Mackie, which may also have been a save from Pollitt.

And then Reid from a free kick in nearly a copy of the Wigan goal curled it high into the corner, but that just little bit too close to the post, seeing it come back off and ricochet around before being cleared.

When we did take the lead it had been a good build up. Mackie gain getting that yard or two of space to shoot, and seeing his effort saved by Pollitt. The only person chasing up though was Simon Cox to give the Reds the lead. Pollitt was angry no defending was following in to tidy up, and his defence seemed to suggest he should have parried it the other way, but that’s neither here nor there as far as I am concerned, Cox showed instinct and quick reactions to follow the ball in and to finish, and put the Reds in front.

Barnsley to be fair didn’t cower though, and their reaction was quick. Perkins who had played well made a run into the box, and pushed the ball past Moussi who clumsily blocked his run and gave away a penalty. O’Grady netted the equaliser, and the lead was already squandered. At this juncture around me there were tuts and noises of derisions aimed squarely at Moussi who most saw already as a liability in that role. He had just proved us correct again.

A word on Moussi, he had his usual type of display where you’re not entirely convinced his arms and legs are reacting to the same brain waves, often careering into trouble and then back out of it. He wasn’t as bad as some will make out, but against a good team he would be found wanting badly, someone like Wigan would have had a field day with him against them.

We took the lead again with the last action of the first half. A free kick Barnsley weren’t happy about being give and Reid, with his usual great delivery caused Etuhu to put past his own keeper. Reid free kicks must be a nightmare to defend, as never sure if dipping in or someone ghosting at the back, defenders feel the need to flail something at the ball to clear it, and as in this case that can result in it going in their own goal.

Barnsley’s second half equaliser was a screamer. Unstoppable, and applauded by a good many Forest fans. It was one of those goals you just have to accept that was destined to go in from the moment Cywka swung his boot. A rocket from 30-35 yards, it was f course given away by Moussi for a free kick in the first place.

And so we toiled for a subsequent winner, and by changing our approach by bringing on Paterson and Abdoun the match was swung. Abdoun excites the crowds, many having seen his Youtube vids (that said I’m sure you could make Jason lee look ace from video highlights) These two started playing a bit more directly and the inter play down the left wing was exciting.

Paterson would hit the post, our third time with an effort from around 20 yards, at first I thought a pass better option but it wet so close. Then Cox had an effort that Pollitt spilled and it went narrowly wide.
And then came the introduction of Darius, fresh from his court acquittal the big man looked hungry and ready. Darius differs from our previous big physical presences in that he can play on the ground too, but his goal was pure aerial threat. A corner coming in he bulleted a header in low to give us a win. Barnsley’s defenders looked frustrated having let the one biggest threat from corners get a relatively free header 10 yards from goal.

It was a deserved win, that there is no doubt, but we were made to work for it. The happy change is now there are different types of options if things don’t go our way. Instead of last year, where we’d have done a relatively like for like change of McGugan for Majewski, this year we have a different type of player to bring on. As I said the interplay down the left filled me with a lot of hope about potential options down there. Abdoun Reid and Cohen seemed to reach a quick knowledge of how to use each other.

All in all a creditable result. It keeps us right in there after the Wigan defeat, and with Middlesbrough up next we look a hard challenge to beat at the City Ground, if we just sort out that DM slot.