November 9, 2015 by notjustpumpkinbread
There was an understandable level of apprehension going into Friday night’s game against them from the other end of the A5-2. It was as if a smell of cordite in the air had quickened the heart and dulled the spirits somewhat. The majestic City Ground filled with an eerie slowness, the evening’s punter’s battered beliefs retarding the willingness to find their appropriate spot amongst the Forest Faithful.
The appearance of those in the Garibaldi was welcomed with slightly more than the usual fervour and those of a more enthusiastic disposition were wakened into a crackling roar reminiscent of sparks rising from that bonfire that’s been growing, ready to sacrifice old Fawkes.
On this Remembrance weekend, nearly all stood in reverence as the bugler with more than a passing connection to this great club signalled the appropriate message. Yet, while tradition marks this calling as the end of the day’s activities and thusly the respect due to those that have made the ultimate sacrifice, this was but the beginning of something entirely different.
Our always ebullient manager had chosen the strongest 11 when considering our current situation, with our Henri and David Vaughan welcomed back from suspension. There was also a welcome start for Jonny Williams, so the 3 to make way were Trotter and Osborn dropping to the bench and young Jorge Grant not making the squad at all. To add to the spice of the occasion, more than a passing thought was given over to whether Jamie Ward would stay on the pitch long enough to affect matters.
In a game that’s seen a red card in each of the four previous meetings at the City Ground, the referee clearly sought to stamp his authority on the occasion, waving a yellow at Williams for simulation after a paltry 30 seconds. The official’s game didn’t get much better from there. That early venture into Derby’s area was a signal of intent; breaking quickly and catching the opposition on the back foot. Always playing the ball in front and never allowing them time on the ball in positions of threat.
That opening few minutes could be likened to the potential of a Catherine Wheel. Like most fireworks, there’s a sense of anticipation and nailing a round thing filled with explosive materials to a post is surely up there when considering the potential for excitement. Mr Dougie lit the blue touch-paper and retired. What would we be getting? Had it been nailed too firmly? Would it spin? How long would it last? The anxieties experienced from the first whistle abounded!
Just like said firework, there were some sparks and the odd spin. We stood back, knowing only too well if we got too close to give it a bit of a poke it might go off in our face and all hell would break loose. Not so Lord Nelson of Oliveira. He strode forward, unperturbed by the fizzling explosive device, gave it a good spin and ignited the whole of Nottingham. Four minutes had passed and the Mighty Reds were in the ascendancy. The combination play of Mendes, Ward, Williams and Oliveira culminated in a blocked shot from the right boot of Nelson, quickly gathered and dispatched with venom from his left and beyond the despairing dive of Scott Carson. Delirium!!
What followed was a well-executed plan formulated by those in charge and acted upon by those on the hallowed turf. Subsequent chances from Ward, which was superbly saved by Carson, and Lansbury signalled our intent. Mills powerful header beyond the far post from a Lansbury corner stretched the back of the net, but came a whisker after the ref had blown for an infringement in the box. That the TV replays show Hobbs being bundled over by two Derby players as the cause for the infringement is an indication of just how much of a poor game the ref was having. Sometimes committment, dedication and responsibility are words bandied about in a derisory manner; used to highlight apparent deficiencies in performances. There has been plenty of those such traits shown on a lot of our performances so far this season, with this game of margins proving the harshest of critics. That all – including the substitutes – in the Garibaldi embodied these attributes for the entire match is not an understatement.
A team unbeaten in 10 games were made to look toothless on this night of heroic proportions. They were allowed time on the ball when and where we wanted. On the few occasions when they played their way into a position of threat our back four performed imperiously. The second half saw Dorus made to work only once or twice. With Lansbury sitting deep and orchestrating matters in a manner to which we’ve become accustomed, allied with David Vaughan who is currently playing at the zenith of his powers, we witnessed a pair of players almost utterly in control. The advancing four of Mendes showing electric pace, Ward who was the embodiment of dedication, Williams a player quick of thought and Oliveira possessing immense skill, we looked a threat every time we advanced into the final third. But that’s not the first time this season we’ve witnessed such threat.
Messrs. Osborn, Trotter and Blackstock entered the fray to replace Ward, Williams and Oliveira respectively and continued the execution of the game plan to full effect. That Dex was back in our final third providing defensive cover with some outstanding headers was a delight. Trotter slowed the pace somewhat in his advanced position, but controlled possession well as we stroked the ball around to deny the opposition any chance of advancement. Osborn provided the opportunity for attack on the left flank and was a threat at times also. There was a plan. There’s always been a plan. This night of passions distilled the thoughts and focussed the few.
We won in a wholly satisfying manner. Are we a team reborn? We’ll have to wait two weeks to find out (damn those International Breaks)! The performances have (mostly) pointed towards a display like this. There may be a sea-change. Our visit to Griffin Park may attest to that.
COME ON YOU REDS!!!