Nottingham Forest 0 Cardiff City 0. Match Report

Last updated : 13 September 2004 By NigelBlues

It wasn’t pretty but The Bluebirds will be relieved to have picked up a point on the road and also keep their first league clean sheet in 11 attempts.

City’s display was one of dogged determination and resoluteness, the best they have looked in that respect all season. They all worked hard and gave 100%, nobody could really be faulted in that respect. The 60th minute return of Peter Thorne making his first City appearance in almost 7 months is a booster to the club and fans at a time it is badly needed too.

You have to hope it is a turning point and gives the club some hope ahead of two home encounters with Watford and Derby over the next week where at least 4 points, preferably all 6, must be the target.

They are the positives to take away from an encounter that really was as dull as the proverbial ditchwater in which the two sides showed exactly why both currently lie in the bottom three. The game was shockingly poor.

Take encouragement by all means but let’s also realise that Forest are currently as bad as, and arguably worse than, The Bluebirds. They are above us on goal difference only, lost their last home game 4-1 to Coventry, they were missing 11 players through injury and had not won a game this season in the Championship. A point was the least we should realistically have expected anyway.

City’s performance may have showing fighting qualities and greater resolve but remained desparately short of the sort of qualities you should expect from a decent side at this level with the players we have – the side again lined up with 7 internationals, another 2 came on as substitutes and another sat on the bench making 10 in total.

We should still expect much better and we know they are capable of far greater than this, City must now kick on and quickly too. We just cannot afford to hang about where we are.

In avoiding defeat and getting a result at last, anyone being honest has to reflect that we once again lacked any sort of reasonable quality, movement, pace and invention in our play. Had we shown any, I am sure the draw would have been a win but we never threatened it. It has to stay a concern that we look so ordinary.

The clean sheet came with some luck as much as strong defending as Forest failed to convert some clear openings whilst City never created a single thing in the opposite penalty box. Only two chances were created, both brought relatively comfortable saves out of the home keeper.

There was little to genuinely savour in the game in total contrast to our visit here this time last season, what a difference a year makes. Twelve months ago, primarily the same group of players produced a near ‘total football’ display to demolish Forest. They had us drooling about the best City football for 20 or more years. It all seems a long time ago now, doesn’t it? The only similarity was Peter Thorne was back on the bench after missing the start of that season with injury too!

Although it was raining and grey in South Wales, Nottingham was warm and sunny. We journeyed by car and with clear motorways, it took less than two and a half hour to get to the East Midlands city. That meant we had good time to enjoy local hospitality. Whilst other travelling fans settled for Notts County social club (a short walk the opposite side of the river from Forest’s City Ground) or city centre pubs, we opted for the legendary Hooter’s Bar.

I know it’s juvenile but getting served by friendly, teenage girls in orange hot pants and low tops does something for your circulations. It wasn’t long before I got my hands on a pair of their outstanding firm jugs. That is, a jug of Strongbow for Lloydey and a jug of Budweiser for me!

Hooter’s in Nottingham is now the only one in the UK but we were told by their manager that they are hopeful of opening in Cardiff in the next year. Roger from The Lansdowne joined us and when he saw how much trade they were doing and that the girls are paid minimum wage of £3.70 per hour, I think he’s already advancing plans to convert his pub into one (if only Bev would let him!!).

The pub was full of Forest fans, all friendly, and the barmaids were even friendlier. So if you were in the City Ground and wondered why a few of us didn’t turn up until the game was nearly half-hour old, you now know why. I certainly have no regrets either … not until the pictures appear anyway!!

City sold around 1,200 of their reduced 1,500 allocation – reduced because we stood, sang and applauded our team last year – what terrible behaviour! Twelve months ago, we took almost 2,500 but times have changed. Talk of coach travellers being messed about by police proved largely unfounded on the day but did enough to make many take to trains or cars instead – or not bother going at all.

The other factors were City’s form and results and tickets being £26 each with our booking fees – neither side could justify on current form but the crowd was an excellent 21,607 – it was explained to us that Forest season ticket prices are very attractive and, of course, their recent history is infinitely greater than City’s but they also have the advantage of a decent stadium.

It’s hardly the most attractive on the outside with high concrete sides surrounded by Meccano-like giant metal girders but, inside, it was in the style of a mini-Millenium Stadium – a two tier all seater affair. City were in a bottom tier behind one goal with Forest all around us and even above us as they occupied the top tier over the away fans.

There may have been change since City’s last outing. Earnie had better make the most of this season in the Premiership with West Brom as his new club already don’t appear to look as if they will be spending that long there. In the dugout there was change too. Apparently, it wasn’t Lennie’s fault for the poor start to this season (or poor finish to last season come to think of it) but his coaching team! Lennie, promopted by Sam, sacked Ian Butterworth and Clive Goodyear. With Terry Burton still to officially commit to the club from Watford, reserve manager Paul Wilkinson was upgraded for the day.

The difference was noticeable with Wilkinson shouting, encouraging, reacting and, at times, showing his annoyance and frustrations to what was before him. A refreshing sight to most City fans, no wonder our reserves have been out-performing the first team for some time.

Lennie (or was it Sam?) showed no real surprises with their starting selections as City lined up 4-4-2 with Warner, Weston-Page-Gabbidon-Vidmar, Robinson-Kavanagh-Boland-McAnuff, Campbell and Lee. The bench were Bullock, Collins, Margetson, Parry and Thorne.

Kav had sufficiently recovered from a midweek knock for Eire in Switzerland and Margetson was back on the bench after back injury. Campbell was given another chance to show he can be the new Robert Earnshaw but once again showed us that he is nothing more than the same old Andy Campbell. Given a chance to show what he can do, he has shown nothing much back. It is only a matter of time until Thorney starts in his place and there is no doubt City must bring in a replacement tricky speed merchant striker. Campbell is just not the answer sorry.

Forest, dpesite so many players missing, still fielded a strong side, something that City would be completely unable to do if we were in a similar position. Our squad is genuinely not as big as strong as some would have us believe.

Their side were Gerrard, Impey-Rogers-Morgan-Hielde, Commons-Jess-Evans-Reid, King-Johnson. Subs were Bopp, Doig, Gardener, Robertson and Jess. Paul Gerrard and Andy Impey in goals and defence bring Premiership experience. Their midfield of Kris Commons (the exciting winger signed from Stoke), Scotland’s Eoin Jess, Wales’ one time City target Paul Evans and Eire’s Andy Reid who is probably the best midfielder outside of the Premiership is a talented unit. Their strikers of David Johnson and Marlon King seem to promise more than they deliver however and so it proved again.

Despite admittedly missing the opening spell, I didn’t miss that much really. Despite hearing several oohs and aahs from home fans walking to the ground, City’s defence were generally in charge and relatively comfortable. Forest had a penalty appeal that some may have given but just huff and puff otherwise, Lee made Gerrard save in a smart 10 minute move. The main incident otherwise was Warner coming off seond best in a challenge with Johnson, his bleeding head injury forcing him to make way for Margetson on 20 minutes.

City’s only other telling moment of the half was a typical Alan Lee burst down the touchline, beating his marker and then cutting across but, not for the first time, his ball across goal saw no City player near and keeping up with him – perhaps that was the only time Earnie was missed in the match and he would have once again saw little or no service.

Lee’s frustration in that moment compounded his anger at being harshly booked for challenging keeper Gerrard in a genuine 50/50. The big man is unfairly suffering at the hands of officials this season and is now just one yellow card off suspension. Still he was having more impact than his strike partner, if it wasn’t for Campbell was penalized for an offside and a later handball, I would not have known he was even on the pitch.

Forest’s opening period going forward was little better. Reid and Commons had shots blocked, Gabbidon and Page putting on his best City display handled crosses comfortably whilst their strikers – King and Johnson – shooting can kindly be described as wayward.

Half-time: FOREST 0 CITY 0

Forest tried in vain to up the tempo in the opening portion of the 2nd period but it was City were looking the better of two poor teams and starting to suggest that they could win the game. In hindsight however, we were flattering to deceive with a spell of possession doing nothing much and creating even less.

I am almost certain that we didn’t win a single corner kick in the entire 90 minutes. I don’t recall a cross by McAnuff and Robinson only sent one over. Kav’s only set piece saw him hit the wall but he came closer, and maybe should have done better, with a clear opportunity but shot over the bar after being set up by Andy Campbell’s only decent piece of work. Our only other effort saw Rhys’ shot hit Alan Lee.

It was simply a battle. Little wonder the biggest cheer came when Peter Thorne replaced Campbell was the final quarter of the match. As if to celebrate his return, Kav burst forward and as the game opened before him, he unleashed a 20 yard howitzer that was unfortunately too close to Gerrard who turned it away, either side of him and it may well have been different.

The final 20 minutes, perhaps understandably, saw the home side try to apply pressure whilst City ensured they did not really lose what they had. It became stalemate apart, of course, from City making their customary cock-up but, for a change, getting away with it.

Robert Page after doing so well nearly ruined it all by heading back towards Margetson but leaving it short, Johnson nipped in and got wide then around the keeper. Margetson was left hopelessly stranded leaving Johnson the simple task of placing the ball home but he ensured his entry into the next Danny Baker/Rory McGrath football bloopers video with the most fantastic miss, somehow spooning the ball over from a couple of yards – even Andy Campbell would have scored it … maybe.

The final few minutes were tense but as uneventful as just about everything that went beforehand confirming the overall impression that these were two struggling, poor teams playing out a struggling, poor game. Paul Parry appeared for the final 5 minutes but never really saw the ball, it was just a case of battling it out for the result.

The draw did neither side any favour but given their recent runs and league positions, neither will feel too disappointed with a point either. However Lennie’s proclamation that season season would see him bring about a long and sustained play-off and promotion challenge looks to be completely laughable just 5 weeks into the season. If they can find some fluency and balance – something we’ve been waiting a long time to see – maybe we’ll get to mid-table but there is absolutely nothing to suggest we can push on from there. Realistically, we have to consider we need 45 points in the remaining 39 games to stay up. Reality has replaced optimism at present.

From City’s point of view however, let’s hope this weekend and result marked a turning point. Maybe it will produce renewed confidence and signal the start of a run to move us away from where we currently lie to safer waters. History has taught us not to think so foolishly though, just wait and see is far more appropriate at present.

Report from FootyMad

David Johnson squandered two splendid opportunities to deny his Nottingham Forest their first win of the season in a goalless draw against spirited Cardiff City side at the City Ground.

Both sides failed to drag themselves out of the bottom three in the Coca-Cola Championship, with Johnson the villain for the home side after wasting two clear-cut chances in the second half, both from well inside the Bluebirds' penalty area.

Seven games into the campaign and Nottingham Forest are still searching for their first full three points from a competitive game, much to the disappointment of the City Ground faithful.

Despite being on the back foot for much of the second half Cardiff City, who saw their goalkeeper Tony Warner substituted in the early stages, went very close to grabbing the spoils after striker Alan Lee found himself with only Paul Gerrard to beat but a great last-ditch tackle by Wes Morgan saved the day for the home side.

Neither of the teams managed to impress the 21,000 crowd in the first half, with Kris Commons and King from the home side coming closer to opening the scoring.

Both Forest strikers Johnson and King failed to capitalise on chances late in the second half, with Johnson sending the ball into the stands from just two yards out after winning it from Cardiff substitute goalkeeper Martyn Margetson in the 73rd minute.

He was again unable to find the back of the net three minutes later from a low cross as his shot was blocked by Gabbidon and King blasted the rebound well over.

The result meant that Forest and City stay grounded at the bottom of the league with plenty to do before their next fixtures on Tuesday.

External reports
Wales On Sunday
Western Mail