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Monday, 23 September 2013

Two 2-2's

I’d like to say the lack of reports for either the last games has been down to me being busy, and although partially true, that isn’t the case. I’ve just largely been lazy.

That said Forest have managed to have back to back draws, both of which 2-2 and both of which saw us falling behind.

Against Middlesbrough, the game was marked more by Phil Dowd than much more else. That’s how it will be largely remembered save for a good come back when we looked dead and buried. Davies took a risk and stuck Reid and Lansbury in a deeper role. The whole structure of the side changed, moving from the more 4-1-3-2 formation we’d used to a 4-2-3-1 formation. It didn’t work.

For a start the midfielders in those 2 deeper roles are not players used to that role. Reid and Lansbury are not defensive players. Further forward it accommodated Majewski in a central role behind the front man, with Mackie going wide right and Abdoun playing on the left. The defence was untouched.

However that defence would need reshuffling not long into the game with the injury of Kelvin Wilson. His role at the back coordinating is vital, always was when he was here before and it’s arguable he bought the best out of Wes Morgan. Halford replaced him and he isn’t as good as marshalling the defence. It soon showed.

The main problem was the lack of the shielding midfielder who knew what he was doing. Moussi had done a mixed job against Barnsley, but due to him giving away the fouls which contributed Barnsley’s gals Davies removed him from that role. And a huge glaring gap opened up between defence and midfield which caused problems you could drive a bus through.

The first goal was simply Halford being turned easily, the ball getting centred and Boro taking the lead. The second was again just rank bad defending, standing off (which is to the point where the defence might do ordinarily) but without that shielding midfielder offering support, inviting Boro on and giving a lot of space. George Friend gladly lashed home the second, and finished well.

We looked dead and buried. I tweeted as much, saying that the change of structure hasn’t worked and we got it wrong. But then Davies redeemed himself. Derbyshire and Henderson both came on, and both scored, with close in finishes from crosses and we could have had more. Of course Reid had missed a penalty in first half and we should have had second half penalty for when Henderson was felled and then booked for diving, wrongly. I wanted t deliver a long vicious diatribe about Phil Dowd on Wednesday morning but bit my tongue.

So this weekend we came up against Doncaster and a lot of fans seemed to be assuming the win had already been decided before we kicked a ball. Donny away is always a tricky little customer of a fixture.
Macheda fresh from Manchester United would be our main tormentor in chief, scoring both the goals. Between these Chris Cohen had lashed in an equaliser, and after Reid scored.

Halford came in for Wilson and Chalobah the new signing made his bow for Forest, wearing Guedioura’s 7 shirt. It will take longer than 2 days for him to get to know us and blend in, but that’s all he had for this game.

To be honest a few people have said that this is a horrible result but that’s taking a game by itself and looking at it based on a resource and league position basis. That’s far too simplistic to judge an opponent, forgetting form, spirit and the basic fact that we struggle at the Keepmoat, which psychologically plays it part. To be fair getting a late equaliser is a good result in my book, we won’t be the only top team to lose points there this season, and so it’s nothing be ashamed of. I just tend to think a lot of our fans get far to built up on the idea of teams we will own and destroy, rather than realise some times you will struggle against perceived weaker opposition.

What it does, and forgetting the League Cup game, is set us up for the Derby game, whereby we aren’t on the best form, and yet here we are scoring a lot of goals. We don’t fail to net, but defensively looking like we are shaky. But that’s going to happen when you lose someone of Wilson’s calibre.

This season isn’t based on 3 games in September. It feels like some think it is. There are both plenty of positives as well as negatives to take from these games. Onward Forest, onward.

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