A third league defeat in a row saw Nottingham Forest lose 1-0 to Barnsley, as their place in the play-offs begins to look under pressure. Jack McCarthy offers a fan’s eye view from Oakwell…
Today was undoubtedly one of the lowest points in the season. Forest were poor and they were simply out-worked and out-fought by a Barnsley side that had struggled all season. Today’s loss was our fourth in five games, a pretty alarming stat.
Our injury list is well-documented and has certainly hurt us. But today there were no excuses. In the games against Wigan and Burnley we played good sides with a side of our own that was thrown together; it didn’t surprise me that we lost those games with the workload and injuries we had.
However, today we had more than enough on the pitch to go and win that game, but again the loss didn’t really surprise me. The side put out today included a number of expensive players, players that Barnsley could only dream of buying — with all due respect to the Oakwell club, the financial gap between the two sides is huge.
It was a lacklustre performance from Forest. Barnsley scrapped for the ball and just simply wanted it more — a typical example of a team in the relegation zone fighting for their life. What they lacked in quality they more than made up for in desire. Forest were second to most balls and even a usually hard-working Jamie Mackie seemed quiet. It was obvious we were lacking a real leader, someone like Wilson, Cohen or Reid to lead by example.
I expected Barnsley to play long ball and, while they weren’t afraid of hitting it long, I was impressed with the way they moved it around, with a few fancy flicks thrown in for good measure. But both sides really lacked creativity in the final third and it was a scrappy game which wasn’t great to watch. Our brightest moment came from Abdoun, who showed glimpses of his quality throughout the match, when he hit a powerful shot from distance onto the foot of the post midway through the first-half.
Shortly after, Mackie missed a sitter. The cross came in from the left-hand side and it seemed all he had to do was get his head on it to score. He did that but sent his header wide. It was at that point you started to wonder if it was going to be one of those days.
The Barnsley goal was typical Forest — Jennings cut in from the left and was allowed to run and run and run and keep running, and then run some more, before being allowed to hit a shot from the edge of the area that beat Darlow. Completely avoidable and while Darlow could have done better, it’s possible he was unsighted. After that we never looked like getting back into the game. Forest did ramp up the pressure late on but couldn’t force a way past the Barnsley defence.
It’s clear now that automatic promotion is pretty much out of reach. But it’s also clear that we now face a real scrap to keep our play-off place. It’s up to Middlesbrough on Tuesday, a place that hasn’t been too kind to us over recent years, before Doncaster at home next weekend.
However, the season is not over yet. Hopefully a few of the injured players will return soon which should give the team a lift and carry them till the end of the season. Whatever you think to the manager’s ways of working, it’s time to get behind the players from now until the end of the season.
Forest and the play-offs don’t get on too well. But you never know.