Stuart Pearce’s first game as Nottingham Forest manager saw the Reds beat Ilkeston FC 4-0 in a pre-season friendly. Justin Heaton offers a fan’s eye view from the New Manor Ground…


We’ve been told on numerous occasions over the past week that results in friendlies are “secondary at best” but you don’t play sport to lose and, whatever the occasion and whoever the opposition, it’s always good to see Forest score goals and win games.

The 4-0 result, however, was a flattering scoreline as this was a tight, close game for 75 minutes and the result possibly owed as much to Ilkeston fading as it did to Forest finishing strong.

Forest’s line-up in the first-half was: Darlow; Mackie, Laing, Collins (c), McLaughlin; Grant, Lansbury, Blake, Paterson; Walker, Fryatt.

Forest started strong with Fryatt looking lively and Lansbury running the game from midfield, firing in a couple of long shots, but the half slowly fizzled out. Ilkeston had the best chance when one of their strikers beat a high offside trap to go one-on-one with Darlow, which the Forest keeper managed to save.

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With a few youth players mixed in with regular first teamers, it was probably Jack Blake who looked the most accomplished; but the shining light of the first-half was undoubtedly Lansbury, who the Reds need to be fit for the whole of next season to challenge at the right end of the table.

The second-half team was: De Vries; Halford, Laing, Haidara (triallist), Fox; Majewski, Reid, Vaughan, Osborn; Cox, Veldwijk.

Laing was the only one from the first-half to continue and he was brought off on 60 minutes to be replaced by McLaughlin who played right-back, and Halford moved to centre-back.

A stronger team took the game to Ilkeston but the home side were still playing a neat passing game and Forest were fortunate when a corner was headed towards de Vries’s goal and seemed to come off a Forest hand onto the bar.

Steve Chettle, on the Ilkeston bench, was convinced it was a penalty as he had been in the first-half, when one of his players had tumbled in the box and was told by Pearce to “pipe down”.

Reid, Cox, and Majewski continued to try and prise open the home defence, and when Veldwijk’s header from six yards was superbly saved the smart money would have been on a stalemate. But then Forest found another gear and a Fox cross was headed in by Cox, quickly followed by Osborn calmly rolling a shot into the corner from just inside the penalty area.

Forest were now rampant and Cox went through to chip the keeper after an inch-perfect Reid through ball and seal the game. Veldwijk then found some space on the right to cross to the far post for Osborn to head home.

A 4-0 scoreline looks a rout but this was far from it, Ilkeston looked a good team who try to pass the ball. The positives for Forest must be to see Reid, Lansbury and Vaughan all fit and looking sharp. Veldwijk looks an out-and-out striker and towers above most defenders; Laing is also a towering figure in defence and did well. Hopefully Cox will get some confidence from this which was sadly lacking last season.

All in all, a good workout and most of the 3,020 crowd enjoyed it.

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