Nottingham Forest saw their 10-game unbeaten run come to an abrupt end after a 3-0 defeat to Champions-elect Cardiff City, on a day where nothing seemed to go right for the Reds. James Bolton offers a fan’s eye view from the Cardiff City Stadium.

Despite Cardiff boasting the best home record in the division, Forest started the game reasonably well. Adlene Guedioura and Henri Lansbury both had long-range efforts whistle just shy of David Marshall’s goal.

But the hosts broke the deadlock after a terrific free-kick from Craig Bellamy, and some fairly poor marking, provided Heidar Helguson with an opportunity to simply nod home the opener past Karl Darlow.

Forest responded well to falling a goal behind and started to assert themselves on the game. Lewis McGugan’s long-range dipping free-kick forced a good save from Marshall just before the in-form midfielder had a goal ruled out after referee Andre Marriner saw a foul in the build-up.

The visitors then created and spurned a fantastic chance to bring the scores level. Lansbury’s shot was parried by Marshall but his header back across goal fell to Darius Henderson four yards out, but he scuffed his shot and Marshall was able to recover. At the time, Forest were good value to be going in at half-time level pegging, but in truth, it was all downhill from there.

With two minutes left before half-time, Henderson wrestled with Helguson from a long ball, but the Forest striker raised his arm into the Cardiff man’s face and was given his marching orders by Marriner. At the time, I thought it looked like a possible elbow, but having seen it again, it’s very soft for me. By the letter of the law, it’s probably a red, and Billy Davies had no complaints, but it effectively ended the game for Forest. I have to say though, without sounding too biased or bitter, I doubt a red card would have been given had roles been reversed.

Greg Halford had to be stretchered off after receiving a kick to the face, which disrupted us even more. On the hour mark, a Bellamy free-kick struck the post, but the rebound fell to Andrew Taylor, whose pinpoint cross was headed home by substitute Rudy Gestede. The Benin international grabbed his second six minutes later and Bellamy was once again the provider. Another terrific ball from a corner found the big striker, who muscled past more lax Forest defending to bury Cardiff’s third.

In the remaining half an hour, the home side struck the post again, Kim Bo-Kyung forced an acrobatic save from Darlow and Bellamy hit the side netting from close range. In the end, Cardiff ran out comfortable winners, mainly thanks to their one man advantage. We were well in the game, even at 1-0 down, but against a team of that quality, it was always going to be difficult.

It was one of those games you just need to chalk off and move on from. Nothing was going to go our way. Somehow we managed to clock up six bookings (plus the red) to Cardiff’s one in a game where Marriner felt like being centre stage.

The bigger picture is though that we have slipped out of the top six and have taken just three points from our last four games. With goals seemingly getting harder to come by and with play-off rivals hitting form, it’s going to be a tense finish as the season draws to a close. Then again, we don’t like to do it the easy way do we?

One thing I must also mention, as a bit of a side note, was how impressed I was with the Cardiff City Stadium. Ironically it was a sell-out crowd in both senses of the word (how fans can wear red scarves baffles me), but the spacious concourse area for away fans was very impressive. They had televisions playing highlights of previous Forest v Cardiff games, bar staff were wearing Forest shirts, a fabulous match day programme, dedicated away fan parking literally a stone’s throw from the away turnstiles and posters thanking us for making the 320 mile journey. So, fair play for that. Little things go along way.

You can follow James on Twitter: @Bolton0301

Image: Courtesy of nuttakit/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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