A 0-0 draw with Ipswich Town saw Nottingham Forest drop out of the play-off positions as the poor home record continues. Martin Valentine offers a fan’s eye view from the City Ground…

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Since we beat Derby at home on 28 September, I’ve only seen Forest play twice – losing to Blackpool, and beating Leicester the week after. It’s the longest run of games I’ve missed in 21 years – and it’s weird.

During that time, the wheels…. well they’ve hardly fallen off, but the nuts have vibrated loose a bit – injuries, bad luck and Billy being unnecessarily weird again not helping matters.

But suddenly here we are at Christmas, I’ve got eight layers of clothing on for the first time this year – and we’re still in the play-off positions. This league is bonkers.

Speaking of play-offs – nobody would have touted Ipswich for a top six berth back in the summer would they? Especially not with three ex-Reds in their ranks, all of whom were deemed surplus to requirements. But three wins on the bounce and they’re knocking on the door.

So to the City Ground. After so long away I expect everything to be different. Hang on – have they finally cleaned the outside of the Trent End? Mercifully they’ve done a rubbish job in places. The familiar comforts of home…

Double hang on – Sky Sports-style rotating player shots on the digital boards? Wow.

Chalobah in for Jara, but otherwise as last week. Ando on the bench for them. Game on.

Eight minutes in and our first decent attack – good work by Abdoun down the left ending with a decent shot by Chalobah. Otherwise a fairly quiet first 10 minutes, with a few grumbles.

And McGoldrick wins a corner. Isn’t it inevitable he’s going to score today?

Five minutes later and suddenly it’s all action – at both ends. Reidy lets fly and really should have hit the target. But both sets of players are awake at least and it’s a bit more end-to-end. Personally, I’d prefer it to be rubbish and we win 1-0.

And then the keeper brings down Cox – definite pen, definite red card… Except the ref appears to be watching a completely different game to EVERYONE ELSE in the ground. Everyone – players, fans, manager – is going crazy at the ref.

So what happens next? Obvious – their goalie saves everything; 25 minutes in and that’s more than the case. Typical.

But we are playing some decent stuff half an hour in and can count ourselves unlucky not to be winning.

And everyone goes back to sleep. Except Dan Harding, who is having a smashing game. Good for him – I’ve never understood why people gave him so much stick.

Half-time. Ned Kelly having a quiet word with the ref as they go down the tunnel. Decent enough half I guess — Lascelles is playing well, but Mackie’s uncharacteristically quiet.

After what seems like forever the players are out. Cue that weird footballing phenomenon when returning ex-players are cheered and booed in equal measure. Chambers gave over five years of what is a short career to us, and that’s good enough for me.

 

Lansbury makes one of those brilliant runs from deep and comes within millimetres of putting us on front on 48 minutes. Good start to the second half.

Ipswich’s tactics are working pretty well though – press us high up the field to stop us playing out from the back. If we can get a bit of quality we can beat the line and get in behind them. If…

Cox is denied by a brilliant point blank save…. And while we’re all thinking the keeper should have been sent off, Lansbury and their left-back are going head to head and it’s all kicking off. Looked like a head butt or two but it’s a pair of yellows – probably the right decision.

An hour gone and we’re finally having a decent go. Halford should have scored from a corner and finally the Trent End makes some sustained noise. But there have been too many almosts and maybes today….

After 67 minutes Mackie is off for Henderson and he gets struck straight in before giving the ball away. Looks like more of a 4-4-2 now with Cox still through the middle.

Abdoun is trying, and failing, with far too many tricks and the crowd are starting to get annoyed. And then a great save from Darlow keeps us in it before more dodgy refereeing as Chambers brings down Abdoun and gets away with it.

It’s turning into one of those days….

Reid takes a quick free-kick and it sails painfully just wide, right in front of us. Good thinking, but a perfect summary of the game.

Chalobah comes off for Jara after what must be his best game for us. Consistently good all game, very impressive.

But that’s it. And with the rest of the chasing pack winning – away – we’re back out of the play-offs.

Bloke next to me says ‘a nothing match’. Which just about says it all. As does one win in seven at home, three points from the last 15 at home; which if we want to get out of this division is simply not good enough.

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