Nottingham Forest 3-2 Ipswich Town. Guest writer James Bolton reports from the City Ground.
Steve Cotterill named an unchanged starting XI for the visit of Ipswich Town with Paul Anderson gaining a place on the bench following appearances in two behind closed doors games during the international break.
Ipswich showed they hadn’t come to sit back and come for a draw, like Hull City and Reading had done in previous games when visiting the City Ground, as they started the stronger. Striker Jason Scotland ran at the Forest goal in the first minute, but his left-foot effort whistled wide of Lee Camp’s post.
Forest’s best move of the first half came when Marcus Tudgay played the ball out to Chris Gunter on the right. He then found the overlapping Luke Chambers who clipped the ball into the box, Tudgay then laid the ball off for Guy Moussi but his left-foot effort was comfortably saved by David Stockdale in the Tractor Boys’ goal. It was a rare flowing move in a half where the Ipswich players were setting the tempo.
Lee Bowyer’s attempted pass out wide was intercepted by Lewis McGugan, but he could only blaze high and wide after cutting inside to work a shooting opportunity.
At the other end, McGugan then gave away a free kick on the Ipswich right for bundling over Jimmy Bullard. Aaron Cresswell whipped in an inswinger and, in typical Forest fashion, allowed Ipswich to head towards goal. The decisive touch came from Danny Collins, as he flicked the ball into the far corner to give the away side a deserved lead after 25 minutes.
Forest were giving the ball away far too often and were lacking urgency. Even creative players like McGugan were struggling to pick a lock and work a chance. The only other effort Forest created from open play in the first half fell to Robbie Findley, but he fired well over despite being unmarked 20 yards out.
In the 42nd minute, Jason Scotland was judged to have handballed an attempted Chambers cross and Forest were awarded a free kick on the right-hand side. McGugan’s whipped in a great cross that wasn’t dealt with by the Ipswich defence and the free ball fell to Findley who prodded the ball in.
Forest could have made it two goals in as many minutes, as McGugan forced a good low save from Stockdale, who held on to the slippery ball with the onrushing Forest forwards ready to pounce.
In the second half Forest started where they left off. Moussi received the ball from a Chambers throw and then dummied passed Collins before seeing his effort deflect into the side netting. McGugan sliced in a brilliant flat corner that was met by the unmarked Chambers but the Forest captain’s header was spectacularly cleared off the line. Had he not headed the ball down, it would have been a certain goal.
Minutes later, Joel Lynch conceded a soft corner and Ipswich would make it count. Jimmy Bullard curled it in and it was Collins, who Forest tried to sign on loan earlier in the season, who met the ball again, stooping down to head beneath Camp. Forest yet again had been undone by horrendous set piece defending and they had a mountain to climb if they were to get a result, even with half an hour to go.
Ipswich seemed to be in complete control with Forest offering little resistance other than a long-range effort from Tudgay which squirmed underneath Stockdale, only for him to claim at the second attempt.
Anderson made his comeback and came on alongside Andy Reid and David McGoldrick, replacing Chris Gunter, Jonathan Greening and goal scorer Findley. Sadly, after another disappointing performance, Greening’s withdrawal was met with boos from a minority of fans.
Ipswich made some changes themselves, as Jay Emmanuel-Thomas, Nathan Ellington and former Forest loan player Lee Martin replaced Bowyer, Scotland and Michael Chopra.
Cotterill’s changes worked a treat, in particular the introduction of Reid who, like he did against Reading in the last home game, turned the game in Forest’s favour. A McGugan corner was cleared to Moussi who passed out wide to the Irishman. Reid then delivered a beautiful cross that was met by Lynch, who flicked the ball into the back of the net for the equaliser in the 84th minute. Game on.
McGoldrick then hunted down a ball down the left-hand side, held the ball up well and found McGugan on the edge of the box. Unfortunately McGugan was forced to shoot first time with his left foot and didn’t trouble Stockdale, who made an easy save.
With 10 minutes the crowd were willing Forest on to go in search of a winner and it came in the first minute of added time. Reid played yet another smart ball down the line to Greg Cunningham — who put in a strong attacking display at left-back — who produced a brilliant first time cross which Collins failed to clear. At the far post was Tudgay, who headed well into the top right hand corner to give Forest all three points.
Ipswich will be kicking themselves they didn’t win and, on balance, definitely deserved a point at the very least. But Forest showed grit, character and determination to hurl them back into a game that seemed lost. Reid changed the game; his cross for the equaliser was inch-perfect and his introduction allowed McGugan to move to a more central position, where he was more dangerous.
Overall, despite more set piece frailties, Forest can be extremely pleased with the way they won the game. It means Cotterill has won four of his six games in charge, a very encouraging record.
And, if the last gasp winner wasn’t enough, Derby County fans’ ‘We Only Had 10 Men’ plane stunt fell rather flat. The banner was embarrassingly small, the text unreadable and it didn’t seem to last very long. On top of that, they lost 2-0 at home to Hull City. Forest have a tough test away at Cardiff City next Saturday, but this win will give them plenty of confidence.
James runs the View From The Mainstand blog.