Nottingham Forest finally picked up three points as they beat Birmingham City 1-0 to stay within three points of the play-off positions. Greg Hall offers a fan’s eye view from the City Ground…


Finally, a win, has come back, to the City Ground.

Well, that was what I’d imagine the Rock would have said if he was a follower of the once-again mighty Reds. Well, not exactly mighty but a win is a win and not to be sniffed at. It is also worth bearing in mind that this was a poor Championship side that visited the Trentside ‘fortress’ today – but you can only beat what is in front of you and over the past few months a side we wouldn’t have beaten. So to the beginning.

There has been a dark cloud over the Reds since the defeat to our woolly brethren and the poisoned dwarf’s removal from the City Ground hot seat. I’ll not trawl over that again, plenty has been said by others far better with words than me but what I will say is I’d tried to support the man at the helm for as long as I could, but like many, including Fawaz, patience was finally broken. Sadly, the vacuum that was left between the removal of our North Korean dictator and the return of Psycho has left a bitter taste to the end of the season that promised so much until fairly recently. If you haven’t seen it yet I highly recommend David Marples’ recent piece on life as a Forest fan – it summed it up to me perfectly.

So upon arriving at Trentside today it was no surprise that the dark clouds hung over the steely grey river. Worse was to hit the mood upon parking in the cattle market to hear Radio Nottingham reading out the team sheet. For the love of God, Easter is a time for the resurrection not the scything down of more of our players. Reid gone for the season and a team once again decimated by injuries. One did not feel a sense of hope for second comings.

The sun broke through and the weather finally matched an end of season game. Also, thankfully, we were playing a Birmingham City side that are in real danger of dropping down to eternal damnation that is Division Three (in old money). While their team had the appearance of 11 inmates on day release from prison – and occasionally they played with the niggles to back this up – they were truly awful for the first 45 minutes.

Surprisingly, despite outside the City Ground being subdued and quiet, once inside the ground there was almost an enjoyable end of season feel and some good atmosphere. This was then immediately backed up with a goal inside two minutes as Paterson thread a delightful ball that split the Birmingham defence and put Derbyshire through on goal. I didn’t think for one minute he’d miss but I have to say, the calmness with which he slotted the ball into the net was a credit to his growing confidence at suddenly being given a role. New contract? Worth a punt I feel. We all raised to our feet to cheer, picking up my son and dropping my daughter, but it was worth it as we were finally winning.

Unlike in previous weeks Forest were playing with a confidence, a lifting of the shackles, and even dare I say it, a plan. This was helped by a woeful Birmingham who were allowing a physically leaner midfield to completely dominate. Welcome back, Vaughan, who was outstanding (sign him up) but the whole side were eager for the ball and, although large parts of our plan involved spreading it both ways across the midfield in an attempt to utilise the space that Birmingham were offering, there was, unlike in previous outings, some thought at splitting their defence and creating chances. Chances came and although few were gilt-edged, Derbyshire will be disappointed with his header over the bar and how the chance that literally went across the goal line didn’t go in I will never know. Half-time came with a sense that it was all a bit too easy.

Second-half just had to fit the old Greavsie quote. The eagerness to chase down the ball seemed to ebb away, as did the calmness on the ball, and any sense of a game plan. Birmingham came out more determined to have a go but they still created little of note until the 80th minute when two chances really should have been buried, although credit to Darlow. Forest should also have been two up in the 52nd as, through on goal, Paterson I believe almost seemed surprised not to have been flagged offside, stopped a little, and then drew a save rather than a goal. But what I will say is they were resilient and didn’t fold. A win is a win and it felt like a cloud had lifted.

All in all, not too much should be read into this result but that doesn’t really matter at the moment. We needed a win. Some worries still linger such as the mindset of the players during the second-half and at least two occasions of a worrying lack of communication at the back between Darlow and Lascelles. I certainly didn’t see it as positive as Radio Nottingham did on my drive home. That being said though, there seemed to be a togetherness back again and Stuart ‘Psycho’ Pearce will certainly be more encouraged when he returns from his media commitments at the World Cup in Brazil. Vaughan was outstanding on his return, as were Osborn and Derbyshire.

Probably too little, too late but nearly all of the results have gone our way and, although we don’t have the easiest run in, we are three points off the play-offs with three to play. Who knows? Birmingham, however, will probably be saved simply because those below are even worse? But in this league, who knows eh?

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