Despite letting Blackburn Rovers back into the game, a dominant first-half performance and two magnificent second-half goals from Jamie Paterson and Andy Reid saw Nottingham Forest win 4-1. Ian Davies offers a fan’s eye view from the City Ground…


As I sit here sipping my cold victory beer (they always taste better after a win don’t they), I can’t help but think that today’s excellent 4-1 win over Blackburn could prove to be a massive result come the end of the season.

We may have rode our luck at times, especially in the second-half with the game at 2-1; when Forest sat deeper and deeper encouraging Blackburn’s lump-it-in-the-box-and-hope tactics. But, considering our injury situation and the fact we had to throw our main centre-forward (yes, I know he’s a defender!) into defence, alongside an often unsteady and probably not entirely match-fit Danny Collins, the performance from back to front was fairly decent — even if 4-1 did flatter us just slightly. We have certainly played better this season, but to still take three points and win by a convincing margin against an in-form team chasing the pack is a huge signal of intent.

We started the game very well and really took the game to Blackburn. I think the most impressive thing about Forest this season has been how we start games. More often than not, we get right into the faces of the opposition and don’t allow them to settle, especially at the City Ground. Today this was evident once again. The excellent Henri Lansbury and David Vaughan both forced the Blackburn keeper into an excellent saves early on, while Simon Cox may have done better from close range at the near post as we piled on the pressure.

On 15 minutes, Forest were finally rewarded for their efforts with a controversial penalty. Lansbury burst into the box and, in one of the biggest mismatches you will see, was bundled over by the large frame of Grant Hanley. For me, it looked a soft penalty to award. It was a fair shoulder-to-shoulder challenge, the type of challenge you see unpunished every week during matches. Hanley’s sheer size and bulk forced Lansbury to fall, rather than a trip or push. Anyway, the penalty was given and blasted home by Lansbury despite the best efforts of Blackburn keeper Simon Eastwood.

On 34 minutes the lead was doubled, with Lansbury smashing home from 12 yards once again, after man of the match Jamie Paterson was felled in a less controversial fashion following some magnificent footwork in the box.

Three minutes later Blackburn managed a goal that their first-half performance barely deserved. Ben Marshall curled the ball past Darlow beautifully from 20 yards after Forest were unable to clear their lines, a lovely finish to pull it back to 2-1.

After a fine first-half, Forest came out in the second-half looking like a team who were content to hold on for 2-1 rather than push for more goals. Of course Forest aren’t the only team to do this, teams will naturally sit back in leading positions to try and protect a lead, but the extent we sit back at times is starting to become a worrying trait. It was certainly going to be a nervous second-half for those at the game and those keeping an eye on the Scores at home too.

After the break it was long ball and long throw galore from the visitors as Forest backed off, allowing Blackburn to get their tails up a little bit. Most attacks were eventually dealt with well by Halford and Collins at the heart of the defence, but they did manage create two very good chances, both falling to Tommy Spurr. One, a strange flicked header, brought the very best out of the agile Karl Darlow, who somehow clawed the ball away from the top corner with the net seemingly ready to ripple.

Then, just as the visitors started to look dangerous, the talented Paterson effectively killed the game with a wonderful goal. The youngster had threatened every time he touched the ball — his combination of flair, pace and youthful fearlessness had the defenders on the back foot on a regular basis. For me, today’s performance was the best I have seen from Paterson, even more impressive than in the West Ham game. The willingness of Paterson to take on his man and inject some urgency into our play was the difference today. This was highlighted most by his goal.

The former Walsall player picked up the ball just inside the box after some patient Forest play around the edge of the penalty area. The Rovers’ defence looked comfortable with thwarting and frustrating Forest until Pato worked his magic, jinking past one, then two, then three defenders before guiding the ball across the keeper into the far corner. It was a goal that almost came out of the blue, but what a difference it made to the course of the match. We looked more comfortable after the third and started to play some football again, which eventually led to the fabulous fourth goal in stoppage time.

Andy Reid, who was unusually quiet today, picked up the ball 20 yards out and did what Reidy does, smashing a scorcher into the top corner. It was a goal that mirrored the performance of the team as a whole. Reid, despite being quiet, still scored a beauty and Forest, who didn’t produce their best performance by any means, still managed to hold firm and beat a potential promotion rival by a significant margin.

As already mentioned, I think today’s result could prove to be huge come May. While I won’t say we played poorly, we didn’t perform at our absolute best, yet we still managed to take three points and improve our goal difference to boot. We are unbeaten in 10 games now; the players are looking confident and will only take more confidence from the result today. Billy Davies keeps talking about the all-important run in to May and, despite the doom and gloom on social media sites, today’s result shows we are starting to gather momentum at the right time.

We’re still crying out for a striker though.

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