October 21, 2015 by notjustpumpkinbread
To say I felt an underlying level of apprehension before Tuesday night’s visit of second in the table Burnley would be a minor understatement. For all the positivity garnered from our performances pre-Bristol, that step back into another footballing realm we’d all like to forget played on my mind to the point of being a little concerned.
That’s not to say I scorned the titular spectacles and dreaded a bit of a hiding. Oh no, the bullishness was in full flow and the hope for a 2-0 victory to the Mighty Reds was broadcast to all-and-sundry (that’ll be my twitter account and the season ticket holder that sits next to me in the Peter Taylor Stand). And to be fair, I reckon I was good for the prediction until the 75th minute. But wait, I’m getting ahead of myself.
To see a starting 11 that included the return of Tyler Walker and the possibility of two up top was heartening. The two other changes from the Bristol match were Eric returning after his suspension and Jamie Ward. What followed was exactly the sort of performance we were hoping for – committed and solid, albeit with not that much to show in the final third.
It was encouraging to see our team react in a positive manner to the disappointment of the previous game. While the first half saw Burnley rattle the inside of the post and cause a couple of minor panics in the box, we were good for the 0-0 scoreline come the half time whistle. Had the referee done his job properly, Burnley would have been down to 10 men after Michael Keane deliberately handled the ball, denying Nelson Oliveira a goalscoring opportunity as he raced towards their penalty area. As it was, a yellow card and free kick were deemed sufficient and I’m sure Mr Dyche heaved a great sigh of relief.
So, a scoreless first half, but a marked improvement in our performance and it was much of the same in the second. Great work from Mendes down the left saw him pick out Oliveira on the edge of the area who’s snap-shot flashed just wide of the left hand upright. Jamie Ward produced a lovely far post cross for substitute Dex (who had been brought on for Tyler in the 70th minute) to nod back for Mendes to lash straight at the Burnley keeper.
Marauding runs into the opposition half have been a bit of a thing for Eric. He spent a fair bit of time on their side of the half way line in the first 45 minutes and continued to do so after the break. A bullish run and great cross to the far post epitomised his performances so far this season, so to see Eric – ball at feet – making a bee-line for Burnley’s penalty area was something we’ve come to expect.
What we didn’t expect – and in reality I’m sure neither did Eric – was to see the culmination of this particular venture being the ball nestled in the back left corner of the opposition’s goal. It was a thing of beauty and Eric Lichaj’s first goal for the club. The subsequent celebration was also a thing of beauty as first with shirt over face, then with celebrating teammates in the Forest dugout, our right back from across the pond was engulfed by almost everyone associated with the team. It was the goal we deserved based on the quality of our play and that 2-0 prediction was looking good. But, barely had we time to calm down than a moment of madness from our Henri resulted in a straight red and Burnley sniffing blood.
As Sean Dyche’s side pressed for the equalizer we sat deeper and deeper, inviting them on and causing the pressure to build. You could sense the apprehension in the side as they attempted to protect their lead. Performances tightened, players made hurried decisions and all that good work was being slowly undone. Young Jorge Grant replaced Oliveira in the 77th minute and Chris O’Grady came on for Jamie Ward in the 81st. One could only assume it was fresh legs to weather the storm. Frustratingly Dex looked somewhat disinterested in getting back to help out and O’Grady was looking out of position over on the right. The real plus was young Jorge, who harried and hustled and just kept on helping to clear the ball.
In the end though, the pressure told. Matt Taylor was given just a bit too much space and that flipping trusty left foot sent the ball sailing beyond the despairing dive of Dorus in the 90th minute. Five minutes were held up on the fourth official’s board and we were hanging on by the end. It was a bit of an anti-climax really. The wind well-and-truly sucked from our sails after all the fantastic work of the first 74 minutes of the match.
That Mr Dougie doesn’t blame our Henri for the sending off is a valiant message, I suppose. Committment is the key and committment is what we got. You couldn’t really ask for anything more, other than three points really. Once again, here was a home display against a side tipped to do well this season that bore the hallmarks of victory – we must have really peed off the footballing deities. There was not one poor display from the starting 11, with particular mention to be made of Jack Hobbs, who looked in complete control for most of the match, Daniel Pinillos (a proper left back), David Vaughan looking assured in the centre of the park and Ryan Mendes who linked well with Pinillos and ran all night.
So, it’s Ipswich next and they were stuffed 3-0 by Hull last night, which means Big Old Mick is going to want to see some kind of reaction. If we produce another performance like this one though, I’m sure they’ll have to look elsewhere to appease their manager.
COME ON YOU REDS!!!