Nottingham Forest 1 - 2 Cardiff City. Match Report

Last updated : 28 August 2003 By NigelBlues

The score does not do justice to City, they were amore magical than Harry Potter and an absolute joy to watch.

2,400 Bluebirds made their way along the 160 mile journey to the East Midlands to be part of a crowd of 23.407, more than half travelling on Cardiff City Supporters Clubs or Cardiff/Valleys RAMS coaches. News hysteria predicting the worst ever traffic gridlock was lost on us as the roads and motorways were relatively quiet - mind you, would you head to the Midlands for a Bank Holiday treat??

City's allocation was sold at the start of the week, it could have been more, should have been more. Cardiff were officially entitled to over 4,000 but Notts police - more worried about reputation than reality - imposed that restriction and others too. Each fan also had to show their membership card to gain entry at the turnstiles, Tamworth services (on the M42) and we were halted on J24 of the M1 where police caused the only snarl up of the day as, at one point, so many coaches were held back that it blocked entry to traffic trying to join the motorway.

The police escorted us the final 12 miles into Nottingham convoy-style, we were allowed through red lights and priority all route. Wonder if our coach driver who was twice flashed by roadside cameras after being waved through red lights will get a ticket through the post??

Notts Police then hit on the wonderful idea of taking our first convoy of 12 coaches/600 fans into one pub at the same time! The pub, part of the Trent Bridge cricket ground, 300 yards from the Forest ground quickly filled and was impossible for service. Being towards the rear of the stampede, we could see what was happening and turned around. The police didn't stop us but those who had entered could not get back out, some were trying to break out by running across the cricket square. We found a pub filled with Forest fans and had a great couple of hours chat and banter with them but nothing was as funny as a Keiron, a 10 year old City fan, losing his balance on a wall and disappearing out of sight as he feel off it.

As kick-off approached, we decided to get to the game on time - a rare event for me as some will know but what an inspirational idea it was! City Ground's main development was 20 years ago when Forest, with a certain Mr Clough, were Kings of Europe so whilst terrific, it doesn't quite compare to new grounds ... or how ours will be!

Outside, it looked like it was made from giant-sized Meccano pieces as giant steel girders straddled the stands. Inside, it was all-seater, primarily two tiers. Three stands were joined. City were behind one goal in a bottom tier, Forest fans were literally all around us as they were to each side and on the top tier above us. If that was intended to intimidate, it was never going to work against City as we outsing them and didn't stop all match to the extent that several Forest fans, respect to them, stood and applauded us at final whistle.

The atmosphere was tingling, the pitch was perfect, we'd waited two decades for a day like today and we were going to enjoy it - little did we realise just how much that would be. Both sides came out together, City came to our end, the reception was fantastic.

Lennie made one change to the side harshly beaten last weekend by two wonder Bradford goals as Richard Langley was put into midfield to add creativity, Gareth Whalley dropped to the bench where he was joined by the fit-again Peter Thorne. Andy Campbell disappeared out of the 16.

Forest are a young side but with several "names" including Welsh international Darren Ward in goals, prospect Michael Dawson leading their defence, Michael Stewart on-loan from Man United, Scottish international Eoin Jess in midfield with David Johnson and Marlon Harewood in attack. The veteran Des Walker, now 37, was missing with injury.

They reached last season's Premiership play-offs on the back of a fine home record with just 2 defeats all season and would expect to challenge again this season. They came into this clash off a 3-0 thrashing at Reading but beat Sunderland 2-0 at home on opening day.

With City fans drowning the ground with Men of Harlech and Forest followers trying to compete, the place was buzzing. 75 seconds later, it was bouncing with happiness as City took a dramatic early lead.

Richard Langley picked the sort of pass that has often lacked in City's midfield, EARNIE broke clear between two defenders, one tugging his shirt, to the edge of the area, picked his spot and although mishit, the ball flew past Ward tucked inside his left-hand post. Earnie somersaulted, City fans pogoed, hugged, roared with a mixture of joy and disbelief. Forest fans chanted "sheep shaggers", City's chanted it back louder followed by 1-0 to the sheep shaggers.

The tempo, pace and atmosphere were all high and got louder as John Robinson was, maybe harshly, booked by ref Howard Webb who controlled the game as immaculately as he did when City beat the Wurzels in the play-off semi at Ninian and the Millennium Stadium, a series of big challenges and fouls followed both ways but City were already looking in general control when Dawson again lost Earnie as brought him down to the right side of goal and 20 yards out.

Up stepped KAV to hit a stunning Beckham-style execution, similar to his Leeds goal,
that flew into the top corner of the net with Ward helpless diving across goal. Kav turned, ran in front of the dugouts and dived Klinsman-like to the floor with half of the City players joining in and 2,400 Bluebirds thinking they'd arrived in football heaven. Wh'o'd have ever thought we'd ever be able to chant, "you're not very good" to the Forest fans at any time let alone 7 miinutes after kick-off!

It was a 'better than sex' experience and got better and better as City built on those goals with a first performance that was light years ahead of anything I've seen from a Cardiff City side. To say we totally bossed Forest would be an understatement, we slaughtered them in every department of the field.

Neil Alexander had very little to do but what came his way, crosses and balls across goal, were all taken with exemplary handling. The defence was rock solid, Rhys Weston getting hits in on Marlon Harewood, Gabbidon oozing class and not showing any after-effects of the Serbian midweek trip, Tony Vidmar looked fantastic alongside him too and Chris Barker was outstanding on the left, his best ever performance. All action, he was up and down the pitch winning everything. It maybe perverse but I think he has benefited from Andy Legg's departure as he now knows the whole left side is his territory and revels in the challenge.

Midfield was playing like a dream too. Willie Boland was the lynchpin and buzzing everywhere helping everyone, Kav has sorted his fitness and looks the player that he was two years ago for City, John Robinson with his usual all action and flair style gave it 110% and Richard Langley looked classy and threatening in all that he did giving plenty of support to Alan Lee and Earnie who offered threats that Forest could barely contain.

City looked like a complete team, their play, passing, movement, commitment, individual and team performance was faultless and, at times, made it look like men against boys as they mauled the home side. So outstanding that disbelieving fans had to ask each other "Is that really Cardiff City playing in blue?" and hailing them with "It's just like watching Brazil".

On 10 minutes, it was almost 3-0 as Kav delivered as excellent corner - one of many Cardiff won in the half - that Tony Vidmar met in the crowd and placed inches wide with defence and keeper motionless watching it.

Other chances came our way with Willie Boland inches over trying a 35 yard screamer and Earnie firing one effort wide and another inches over from an angle after Langley was the architect of another excellent opening.

Forest had no answer at all, the few times they got near City's goal, they found City's rearguard unflinching. The couple of shots they had were blocked. Their frustrations obvious as Dawson ploughed through the back of Lee for a yellow card and their fans turning on the ref for rightly giving decisions our way and cheering him when he gave calls to them. There was a flashpoint as John Robinson went head-to-head with Oyen. With the home fans baying for a red card, Webb sensibly calmed both players. City fans taunted the home support with "sit down and behave yourselves".

A stunning opening period, a pleasure and privilege to witness and irrefutable proof that, yes indeed, CARDIFF ARE BACK!

Half-time: FOREST 0 CITY 2

This period was always going to be different. Forest had to fight back, City were happy with what they had and didn't need to be as expansive as the pace died a little too as the effects of a very humid. sticky afternoon played its part. When the sun broke through, temperatures shot into the 80's. City were still in control but the game was now very much in our half.

Forest looked to lump the ball forward as quickly as possible and, in a way, played right into City's hands as it was food and drink to Gabbi, Vidmar & Co who never panicked and often tidied up in style.

They finally got their first strike at Neil Alexander after 51 minutes as David Johnson, a real livewire but who was well marshalled, broke through two challenges and hit an effort that Scotland's No 1 was fully behind. There were howls of laughter as Forest won a free-kick in an identical spot to where Kav scored but their taker sailed his effort into the top tier of the stand.

With 20 minutes remaining, Forest's play and pressure hadn't really got them anywhere with Cardiff dominant but as John Robinson was replaced by Mark Bonner, Forest scored with a goal out of nothing. The sort of thing that can happen at this level as we found out last weekend and it was a goal similar to Bradford's opening.

Harewood took a cross with his back to goal and no real options but turned, the ball sat up nicely and he hit an effort that looped and sailed into the top corner of the net with Neil Alexander having no chance to deny it.

Worries that City might collapse, as we have done many times, soon disappeared as Cardiff's response was again magnificent as they took the game to Forest and were unlucky with a number of openings created.

Earnie twice blazed over and a header meeting a Barker cross was just wide, Earnie then fed Alan Lee whose powerful goalbound low drive was touched onto the post by Ward's fingertips and Ward denied Earnie too who hit a volley to his left. Vidmar seemed oblivious of chants for him to ayatollah but Richard Langley heard him and raced over to get him to do it and when Earnie went off for Peter Thorne, it was us another excuse to sing that chant, not that we needed it. The singing, even by City's usual standards, was outstanding and what joy we also had as Forest fans sulked away early.

Forest caused two major heart flutters, just two, in those closing stages as a through ball sent Harewood away but Alexander was alert, charged out of goal and won the race to boot the ball clear.

But for all that good work, it was near agony as one final Forest lunge in the four minutes added time saw a low shot hit in a crowded area destined for the bottom corner but Neil Alexander saved us again with a truly stunning save.

So City got their first win at this level since April 27, 1985 (we beat Huddersfield 3-0 at Ninian if you're interested) and we savoured that near eighteen and a half year wait with a terrace party, the place was rocking. The trip home was joyous, a pub stop to celebrate was unusual for our coach but so are days like this.

Brian Clough, are you reading this? Your boys took one hell of a beating! To Lennie and the lads, you were all magnificent today, it bropught a tear to my eye, I salute you.

Report rom FootyMad
Cardiff City enjoyed their first victory in a Nationwide League Division One after gallantly holding on to clinch a 2-1 win at Nottingham Forest.

The game started brightly for the Bluebirds when they hit two goals in the first seven minutes at the City Ground.

There was only 75 seconds on the clock when Cardiff scored their opener through last season's top goalscorer Robert Earnshaw. The big striker had a high bouncy ball to contend with as well as the towering figure of Forest's Michael Dawson, but he got the better of both and slotted home from eight yards out.

Minutes later, Cardiff rocked Forest again when they were awarded a free kick 22 yards out and captain Graham Kavanagh scored with a right-footed shot that glided over the five-man Forest wall and into Darren Ward's top right corner of the net.

Shell-shocked Forest had their first shot on the visitors' goal on the quarter-hour mark. This was from the boot of David Johnson from a tight angle on the right.

Forest picked up their game nearer the 30-minute mark and started to hold the ball and quell the Cardiff onslaught.

Five minutes into the second half, Johnson had two shots on target making Cardiff's keeper Neil Alexander work for the first time in the game.

Cardiff continued working well to hold on to their precious and well deserved lead, but with 20 minutes left to play Forest got themselves a goal. A cross from Mathieu Louis-Jean took a deflection off the Cardiff defence and landed at the feet of Marlon Harewood who made no mistake when he blasted in from 25 yards out.

Minutes later, Cardiff could have secured the points when first goalscorer Earnshaw was one-on-one with Ward, a simple tap would have done, but in front of the travelling fans he blasted well over the bar.

With five minutes to go Cardiff picked up again and forced a number of saves from the Forest keeper.

However, Cardiff held on to take maximum points for the first time this season.

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