Nottingham Forest could have taken all three points as the Reds drew 1-1 with Derby County in today’s early kick-off. Tyler Jelley offers a fan’s eye view from Pride Park.
Whilst standing on the concourse of Pride Park, I was constantly refreshing my Twitter feed just to see all the hype before the game. I then stumbled across the fact that we had only won one of our past 10 away at Derby. As you can imagine I was nervous, but that didn’t do my heart rate any favours.
The teams emerged and the atmosphere was electric, which was to be expected. My nerves weren’t settled in the first 10 minutes as I’d wished them to be. We sat back allowing Derby to come forward and flood our half of the field. We were ‘under the cosh’ but withstood a few scares including a free-kick that deflected just wide of the post. Also during this early spell a ball looped up just under the crossbar and Karl Darlow claimed it. He was challenged or pushed by Jamie Ward over the line — presumably to try and intimidate the youngster — but he got straight back up and confronted Ward, which was great to see. Confidence is the key to a good goalkeeper and I believe the fans chanting his name will have given him a huge adrenalin rush.
After this first period we came into the game, which was a relief first of all, but also a joy to watch. Simon Cox hit a thunderous shot that smashed the underside of the crossbar, which I thought had gone in. After this a long ball was played to Cox from Henri Lansbury. Cox held the ball exceptionally well and spotting the bursting run from Gonzales Jara Reyes, the full-back, he played a lovely pass but unfortunately Jara couldn’t stay composed and blazed over.
After 15 minutes or so, the tempo of the game died down. It was fairly open and played generally in the middle of the park with both sides struggling to keep hold of the ball.
On the half-hour mark, we had an attack and Billy Sharp — who was Billy ‘not so’ Sharp today — held up the ball well, went to the wing and managed to get a cross over which was deflected straight in the path of Chris Cohen. He then produced a piece of skill Lionel Messi would be proud of (I presume he mishit the ball) and it looped up in the air and fell nicely for him and he slotted home at the second time of asking. The 4,500 Nottingham Forest fans erupted.
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We then enjoyed more possession of the ball once we had scored and it seemed like any nerves the players had were gone. Half-time then came and we were a goal to the good up, maybe we didn’t deserve it but we didn’t care.
After half-time the first five minutes of the game were scrappy and much was played in the middle of the park. In the 52nd minute came a moment Simon Gillett is going lose sleep over. He gained possession of the ball and took one touch too many and was dispossessed by Connor Sammon who took the ball forwards, passed across to Jamie Ward who hammered home for Derby, this being their first real chance of the game.
After this, pressure was applied from both teams, bringing on more forwards, with Forest bringing on Dexter Blackstock and Derby bringing on Theo Robinson. The game was free flowing and fairly attacking, however, I would say Forest had the better of it with a couple of good chances: Sharp’s turning shot that beat Legzdins, but also the post; and Blackstock’s free header from six yards that he headed over and really should have scored. The game ended 1-1. I believe Forest should have, and could have, won. We dominated the Sheep on their own pitch, but I was just glad to not be beaten for a fourth time in a row.
Will Hughes was the stand-out player for Derby today. I have received abuse for thinking this, however, I studied him closely all game and whenever he had the ball, he made use of it. He didn’t misplace a single pass and he created everything Derby did. Unfortunately for him, Derby looked for him every time they had the ball. Definitely a player to watch out for in the future. Sammon surprised me also, he chased the ball down well and he held the ball up well for Derby today.
Cohen or Jara would be my man of the match for Forest today, both having exceptional games. Jara had Jamie Ward in his back pocket for the majority of the game and Cohen was the engine he always in and popped up with a goal. I feel Lansbury also deserves a mention — he showed his class today and had his best performance in a Forest shirt.
You can follow Tyler on Twitter: @TylerJelley
Highlights are available on The Football League Show on BBC iPlayer.
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