Nottingham Forest kicked off the new season by beating Huddersfield Town 1-0. Ian Davies offers a fan’s eye view from the City Ground…
It wasn’t a pretty game, it was scrappy at times and there were barely any chances, but we wanted three points and three points are what we got. After three long months, that winning feeling is back — and how welcome it is too.
That sums up the match really, it was pretty dire and nothing on the last Forest v Huddersfield game that’s for sure (6-1 for those who’ve forgotten). Henri Lansbury’s goal was well worked and the only real excitement, with the ever-willing Chris Cohen working the ball back across goal nicely after an excellent run for an easy tap-in. Chances were extremely limited, due mainly to the fact that Huddersfield, like so many other teams last season, came to defend and hit on the break if and when they could. They were difficult to break down, organised and hardworking but, to our credit, we played patient football and eventually got the reward we deserved.
So, rather than waste this space describing the five — yes, five — shots on goal in the entire game, here’s my ‘fan’s eye view’ on how the new players and team as a whole looked on Saturday afternoon.
Karl Darlow didn’t have much to do, but when called upon seemed as solid and impressive as he did during the second half of last season. He made one save of note, a save typical of Darlow; full of flair and excellent for the cameras. He communicated well with his defence, took command when needed and in my opinion deserves that number one jersey.
The defence as a unit performed well, with the full-backs looking particularly impressive. Cohen led by example as usual and new signing Eric Lichaj looked excellent both in defence and going forward, while the Hobbs and Collins centre-half partnership coped well enough with the little threat that Huddersfield and the strangely quiet James Vaughan offered.
I still feel, as my fellow fans in T1 will testify, that Collins just isn’t good enough. Hobbs looked very assured and a very good addition indeed, but I’m sure watching his defensive partner stumble over his own feet time and again wouldn’t have given him much confidence going forward. Another centre half is needed, but we all knew that anyway.
The midfield line-up looked excellent on paper and out on the pitch it didn’t disappoint. Adlene Guedioura and Henri Lansbury make possibly the most exciting centre midfield partnership in the Championship in my opinion and will be vital this season. Both offer a level of creativity and effort that hasn’t been seen here for many years. Lansbury chased every ball right up to the final whistle and worked hard to get into the right place for the goal, while ‘Pep’ looked composed and disciplined once he realised smashing the ball into row z from 35-yards won’t get you three points.
Andy Reid is half the man he used to be, but certainly isn’t half the player and as usual impressed with his distribution, work rate and all round effort. New boy Jamie Mackie looked impressive too and looked very comfortable in his winger/attacking midfield role. Like his midfield partners, his work rate was excellent and he didn’t look like a player who had been left out of training sessions by his previous club at all. He didn’t get as many shooting chances or opportunities to go forward as he would probably like, but I am confident in saying that QPR’s loss will be a huge gain for us. Mackie will be excellent at this level.
Up top, the not-so-new-but-seems-like new striker Matt Derbyshire didn’t really threaten but you couldn’t say he did too much wrong either in a game that was never going to offer much for a striker. His movement was actually very good and he clearly wants to prove himself. Billy has offered him a chance and he wants to take it. You could see from his body language that he didn’t want to be taken off and that hunger can only be a good thing. Good luck to the lad.
Simon Cox did what Coxy does, but still doesn’t look like the goal scorer he used to be. You would need to be mad or rich to bet on him to be top goal scorer put it that way. We know he creates a lot and the fact that he seemed to drop very deep at times today shows that Billy knows this too, we just need that constantly mentioned ‘20+ goal striker’ ahead of him.
In regard to subs, Darius Henderson offered something different when he came on and gave the opposition something to think about, mainly due to his sheer size and strength compared to Derbyshire and Cox. Jamie ‘Pato’ Paterson looked lively and offered plenty of youthful exuberance in attacking areas. He does look very slight though and may need to beef up a touch to cope with the rough and tumble of this league. I’m struggling to find anything of note to say about our third sub, Ishmael Miller.
On the whole, it’s was a fairly decent performance from the entire team and there are certainly signs that we have a very good squad this year. A centre-half and a striker in, a few out to balance the books and we might just be on to something this season.
To finish off, I’d would just like to make a point that it was excellent to see home fans in the Lower Bridgford, it certainly makes a difference to the overall atmosphere to have support all around the ground. It is important to mention that the pitch and the stadium itself looked fantastic today and well worth the reported investments made so far this summer. It’s a shame to see that the Sytner ‘Forever Forest’ sign has been removed from the Trent End roof though.
Oh, and well done to the 2,000 Huddersfield fans for making the trip despite the train disruption. Good effort.
Half-time wasn’t the same without the pot-shot at goal competition it must be said. Maybe Fawaz can set up a ‘chip the ball in the fridge from 50 yards’ game or something? Mark Dennison was also sorely missed on the Tannoy today too. His replacement tried to be fair, but I don’t want to hear “GOOOOOOOOOOOOOAL!!!!!” or “Let’s hear you A Block!!!” ever again. Hurry back Mark.
Overall, it’s great to be back isn’t it? Good performance, even better three points and all-round great day. Even with THAT rain shower.
You can follow Ian on Twitter: @IDNFFC
Image: Courtesy of franky242/FreeDigitalPhotos.net