Forest lost another Tuesday game but other matters overshadowed the result. James Bolton reports from Pride Park.
Forest were forced into one change from the team that won 3-1 at home against Millwall as they travelled to Pride Park to face Derby County in the rearrangement of the original league fixture that was victim of the heavy weather. Joel Lynch replaced the injured Danny Higginbotham in central defence. A notable, but unsurprising, starter for Derby was former Forest striker Nathan Tyson.
In a first-half to forget, there was more sparring between the two sets of fans than the two sets of players. Steven Davies, Guy Moussi and Adlene Guedioura all picked up early bookings in a typically feisty derby atmosphere.
Tyson then seemed to be limping quite heavily, before needing treatment, which prompted taunts from the 4,000 travelling Forest fans.
The ball spent most of its time in the Forest half with Ben Davies whipping in waves of dangerous deliveries from corners and free-kicks. Forest were unable to get significant spells on the ball, with constant long balls being pumped up to Marcus Tudgay and Dexter Blackstock who were struggling to get anything out of Shaun Barker and Jason Shackell.
The only moment when the two centre-halves did flounder, Tudgay was unable to take advantage. Barker lost an aerial challenge with Blackstock and, when Shackell failed to clear, Tudgay instinctively volleyed goalwards, hoping to catch Frank Fielding off his line, but he was unable to find the target.
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Steven Davies lashed over a half-volley from distance and Craig Bryson was unable to make a clean contact on Tyson’s cut-back. They were two of few efforts on goal in a very ugly first-half of football.
Forest looked at their best in the very brief moments when Andy Reid and Garath McCleary were able to get the ball down and run at their full-backs, but the long-ball tactic was totally bypassing our most creative players.
Jonathan Greening replaced Guedioura 10 minutes into the second half, with the latter picking up an injury when delivering a cross earlier in the half.
In a decent opening quarter of an hour to the second-half Forest were tight at the back and only gave away one effort on goal. Tyson, who had been deployed on the wing, cut inside Greg Cunningham and fired a left-foot effort wide of Lee Camp’s left-hand post.
Camp was called into action moments later, as another fizzing delivery from Davies evaded everyone in the box, and Camp had to palm away the ball that was heading for the corner of the Forest net.
The customary derby day handbags soon followed during a frantic few seconds. Both Forest and Derby players were biting at one another’s ankles, but Blackstock dived in slightly late on Gareth Roberts and a fracas ensued. All 22 players unsurprisingly, and unnecessarily, got involved, as Blackstock grappled with Roberts but was only given a yellow card by referee Andy D’Urso, much to the displeasure of the Derby fans.
Nice work from Lynch and Reid then forced Fielding to punch a cross clear, but the Derby goalkeeper collided with Barker. Tudgay, who was close by the injury immediately spotted the Derby defender’s distress and called for the stretcher. After receiving treatment including gas and air from both teams’ physios, he was stretchered off with a dislocated kneecap and replaced by Jake Buxton.
Sadly, during the treatment, the ugly side of football reared its head as Derby fans chanted “You’re going down with your chairman” and “Where’s your chairman gone?” towards the Forest fans – something I’ll pick up on later on.
Forest then created arguably their best chance of the game. A Reid free-kick from the left was met by Tudgay, but he couldn’t get full contact on the ball, and his stooping free header was glanced just wide.
Another Ben Davies free-kick caused problems in the Forest box, and Moussi was forced to clear off the line and Shackell forced a good low save from Camp following a Derby corner.
Forest were really under pressure and as eight minutes of stoppage time was revealed, Forest were reduced to 10 men, when Tudgay lunged in late on Davies and was rightfully given his second yellow card. Scott Wootton was immediately brought on for Reid, as Forest prepared for a late barrage.
Greening was then judged to have fouled Ben Davies with a high foot. As Steve Cotterill eluded to post-match, it was never a foul. Greening didn’t touch the man, hooked the ball at least 30 yards clear and Davies was ducking to get his head to it, there was nothing Greening could do other than let Davies break free.
Nevertheless, the ball was whipped in and Buxton headed towards the far post and the ball trickled into the net, to give Derby what would prove to be the winning goal. Despite a late McCleary effort and a few crosses from Forest in the dying minutes, Derby were victorious and claimed their first double over Forest in 40 years.
While our attacking play was very poor and we didn’t threaten Fielding anywhere near enough, we were fairly resolute in defence, dealt with 11 corners, multiple free-kicks and countless crosses into our box reasonably well, albeit riding our luck a few times.
Unfortunately, the game was tarnished by the utterly shameful behaviour and chanting by Derby supporters in reference to the death of our former chairman. Derby County have issued an official apology to the club, our fans and the family of Nigel Doughty, some of whom were in attendance at Pride Park and had to sit and endure the disgraceful singing.
While all Derby fans shouldn’t be tarred with the same brush — as it was by no means the majority of fans chanting — it was a very significant minority, who made themselves clearly heard. Derby chief executive Tom Glick said the chants only occurred for “a brief moment”, which I’m afraid is completely wrong.
All in all it was an ugly game on and off the pitch, and one where Forest probably deserved a point, but sadly this game will be remembered for all the wrong reasons.