Nottingham Forest went top of the table after beating Bolton Wanderers 3-0, continuing their 100% record, taking nine points from nine. James Bolton offers a fan’s eye view from the City Ground…
The announcement of the team news will have left many a fan scratching their head as to what formation the side would be playing with Greg Halford named alongside the now regular back four. As it happened, Halford started up front alongside Jamie Mackie in the absence of last Saturday’s goal hero Darius Henderson (who picked up a thigh strain in midweek).
It was Mackie who got Forest off to a blistering start. He latched onto Radi Majewski’s through-ball down the inside left and coolly dropped his shoulder to curl the ball right-footed passed Adam Bogdan with just 80 seconds on the clock.
That rather set the tone for a thoroughly entertaining first-half where Forest were the dominant side. Apart from a brief scare, when Darren Pratley headed onto the underside of Karl Darlow’s bar before being flagged for offside, the Reds looked in control. Eric Lichaj and Chris Cohen went close and were proving to be as productive in attack as they were solid in defence.
A spell of 15 second-half minutes effectively ended the contest, beginning with Forest doubling their lead five minutes after the restart. Andy Reid was perfectly placed at the far post to strike home a cut back from the right-hand side after a neat passing move, his third goal against Bolton in as many games.
Halford, who seemed to be thriving in his attacking role, controlled a delightful long ball from Kelvin Wilson, but his low shot struck the inside of the far post and was safely cleared. Moments later, Bolton’s hopes of salvaging anything from the game were dashed when Pratley was brandished a second yellow card for a late challenge on Chris Cohen.
A terrific attacking display was capped off by Henri Lansbury who, like Reid earlier in the game, found himself unmarked at the far post. He stooped to head home an accurate Halford cut-back to secure all three points.
Forest comfortably saw out the remainder of the game and, unlike against Hartlepool in the Capital One Cup, were able to protect the 3-0 scoreline to make it not only three league wins on the bounce, but three consecutive clean sheets too.
In the pre-match build up, Bolton boss Dougie Freedman spoke of Forest’s big spending and accused us of essentially buying our way to promotion. But despite being tipped to be a top six side this season, Bolton looked anything but. Lost at the back and blunt in attack, their first shot on target was registered in the 92nd minute and Darlow went the whole game virtually untested.
Perhaps that is testament to the sturdy and uncharitable nature of Forest’s back five. Jack Hobbs and Wilson, making his home debut second time around, look one of if not the strongest centre-back pairing in the division. And with the industrious Lichaj and Cohen outside of them, any success this season will not only be down to flair and fluidity in the final third, but due to the solid foundations at the back.
As it happened Forest breezed through what looked like a very tough game on paper, but upcoming away trips to Watford and Wigan will no doubt prove to be much sterner opponents.
You can follow James on Twitter: @Bolton0301
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