Despite an early Andy Reid goal, Nottingham Forest were lucky to draw 1-1 with Charlton Athletic. Tom Breeson offers a fan’s eye view from the Valley…


With Billy’s inspirational/bizarre post-Derby press conference still ringing in my ears, I decided to go to the Valley with his ‘us against the world’ attitude. Any questions from the stewards or bar staff would result in a resounding “No comment”, and if I heard any Charlton fan call us a shambles…

It became clear straight away that this approach was not necessary as it turns out Charlton are just lovely. Friendly, helpful staff and, according to the #cafc #nffc tweets after the game, nice fans too.

We arrived an hour before kick-off at the Jimmy Seed Stand with about 30 other Reds there. I queued at the bar with Ebby and we had a bit of a chat. I got myself a pint. Ebby got himself three.

Actually, £3.75 for a Foster’s or John Smith’s is alright for London. The away support flooded in as ever, with apparently 1,778 travelling fans by the start of the game.

Stupidly, I was pretty optimistic about a decent win in this one. Our last trip here back in February had produced a free-flowing and solid performance that the opposition couldn’t handle. So when Andy Reid scored with a curling free-kick from the right-hand side (pretty sure he didn’t mean it…) after three minutes of this one starting, I thought here we go. Blackstock hat-trick.

Billy said after the game that maybe we scored too early. Maybe we did because nothing really happened after that. A front three of Mackie, Derbyshire and Blackstock never really looked like scoring, but then neither did the latter’s second-half replacements of Cox and Henderson. I don’t want to single any of them out but it seems like some of them have a role of holding the ball up, others for running at defenders, hopefully all of them for beating goalkeepers, and in this game they didn’t do any of those things very well. The best chance came for Mackie after half an hour, but he hit his shot from inside the box straight at the keeper.

Frustratingly, with a pretty decent pitch, we didn’t seem to be able pass it around on the floor for very long. Ironically, we did that to brilliant effect on our last visit and that was when the pitch was so bad the ground staff had put a sort of green mat in both six-yard boxes. Maybe we missed a bit of Majik on that front. But I’m biased. I love that guy.

Without producing too many chances themselves, Charlton got more into it as the game went on. The fans and the drummer in the North Upper gradually got louder as more attacks came our way and half-time was a welcome break. Right, Billy’ll get into them, he’ll change it up, they’ll come out playing some good stuff second-half.

Charlton equalised early in the second-half. After an attack, the ball spilled to Lawrie Wilson in the box, who crossed it low to Marvin Sordell, who put it in the corner. Darlow no chance. It had been coming, with the home side playing well, but I was expecting a better response from Forest after half-time.

It was around this point that the man behind me took the unconventional (but enjoyable) stance of expecting Lichaj to single-handedly win the game for us. “Skin him Eric! Skin him Eric!” was the order of the day. Dan Harding takes a throw-in, “Skin him Eric!!” Eric did play well. Danny Collins played well again. Chalobah showed glimpses of his class. Again though, it was Reid who was our hardest working and easily most dangerous player. All the attacks and very few half-chances came through him. It was Charlton who actually had the better chances and probably should have scored a couple more. In the end though, we got away with 1-1.

Oh, it was very disappointing after my misplaced expectations. However, a point does not actually look too bad after that performance. And a point is a point, etc. Right then. Seaside on Saturday. Blackstock hat-trick.

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