Nottingham Forest kept their distant play-off dream alive with a 2-0 win over Rotherham United. Scott Eley offers a fan’s eye view from the City Ground…

A midweek game against Rotherham is hardly one to whet the appetite but Forest ended up picking up all three points in quite an evenly contested game.

Following the goalless draw against Leeds, I’m not sure what I expected Forest to serve up last night. My thinking going into the game was at least some entertainment would be on offer, something sadly lacking all too much this season. However, under Dougie, we seem to have a game plan for each match with the responsibility rested on individual quality to win us the match. Last night was no exception.

Happy to let Rotherham have the ball and play neatly with it, their toothless attack was fronted by Matt Derbyshire and Forest took to the counter at home. Our passing game wasn’t up to the standard set so far by Dougie but players were doing their defensive jobs competently enough. Gary Gardner was the stand out man for me, picking up the loose balls both on the ground and in the air. I hope we can keep hold of him in the summer; he’s made that position his own in front of the back four.

Mancienne was playing at right-back and, although I do rate him as a defender, Mancienne’s strengths aren’t with the ball at his feet and providing an attacking threat. Burke’s game was stifled somewhat as a result. Burke likes to use his over-lapping full-back but with Lichaj filling in at left-back, I thought we looked a bit disjointed as Mancienne adapted to his new position. The first-half was a bit laboured and almost Pearce-like with our over-reliance on Michail Antonio down the left. Clearly though, as soon as we went a goal up, Mancienne didn’t need to be an attacking threat. Good planning from Dougie.

Just as the game as limping to half-time, Dexter latched onto a through ball from Antonio. Despite the goalkeeper getting caught in no man’s land, Dex had to get his angles right and he applied the finish. It’s great to see him back playing well up front. If anybody deserves a break, it’s Dexter and his teammates promptly piled on him to celebrate. A popular character in the squad I’d suggest.

Minutes later and the game was effectively done. Hunt had gotten the measure of his opposing number up until that point in the game but that is the beauty of Michail Antonio. It wouldn’t surprise me if opposition managers start sending their right-backs to the psychologist in order to contain our bustling left-winger: a full-back’s nightmare. Just when you think you’ve got the measure of him or Michail is beating himself (which he often does), he produces a goal that would grace any ground in the world. Some of those Rotherham players must have been scratching their heads, he’d pretty much been bad Antonio up until that point, running down blind alleys and playing with a lack of finesse.

Picking the ball up inside his own half is where Michail is at his most dangerous and there is no stopping him when he is galloping away. He is so strong running with the ball, I don’t think you’d stop him even by holding onto his ankles. Smashing it home from 25 yards was the icing on the cake. Effortless.

There have been plenty of comparisons drawn with Collymore but there’s only one Stanley for me. The anticipation and excitement generated in the crowd is certainly comparable however. It’s brilliant to watch.

I’ve not seen his stats but that’s 13 for the season and he must have the most assists. Considering his stamina suffers as a result of his powerful play during the games, he must also have the most appearances this season. I can’t recall him missing a game, certainly at home anyway. He’s been the massive plus in an uncertain season. I bet Fawaz loves him.

Michail’s more powerhouse than wizard but who knows how far he can go in the game? His YouTube highlights this season alone would suggest a Champions League regular… I’d expect more suitors in the summer.

Back to the game and Forest never really had to get out of third gear. For all their possession, Rotherham didn’t muster any clear-cut chances but were unfortunate to see a shot hit the post and see another tipped brilliantly away by Darlow.

The debuts of Barrow and Walker were further bright spots. It’s always nice to see young players making their debuts and Dougie was a like a proud father in preparing Tyler on the touchline. With only a couple of minutes game time, we didn’t get to see much other than some tidy link up play. Fingers crossed, we will see more of him in the coming weeks.

Job done for Dougie, the game plan worked although it was far from vintage. The next set of fixtures are really going to test our play-off credentials. Dare to dream? Will our season be well and truly resurrected? Talk to me at 5pm on Easter Monday.


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