March 21, 2016 by notjustpumpkinbread
That was the 11th time this season we’ve lost by a single goal. It doesn’t make it easier though – losing to our closest and bitterest rivals in such a way makes it all the harder to bear. The most worrying aspect of our current run of form is the lack of creativity. While we were spurning umpteen chances per game earlier in the season and just not finding the back of the net, we are now wholly incapable of scoring, with little or no quality up top to give us a glimmer of hope. It says much about our current state that we’ve turned to a loan striker who had made only 6 league appearances for his parent club this season – all as a substitute – and who hasn’t scored a goal since Cardiff’s 1-2 away win against Brentford on Saturday 14th March 2015.
In fairness, we did alright in the first half, denying Derby any chance of creating an opening, but not looking like we were going to cause them any trouble either. The midfield trio of Cohen, Vaughan and Gardner looked solid and Ben Osborn looked lively on the left. Our central defensive pairing of Mills and Mancienne looked in total control, while Jokic oozed confidence and confirmed yet again what a quality player he is.
Now we come to the other stuff. Macheda showed very little promise as our loan striker, but when he did pick up the ball (which was rarely) the options open to him were just not there. Unfortunately, Eric just wasn’t at the races either, which gave Derby’s Olsson plenty of hope that something could be achieved down our right. Of course, Eric wasn’t the only right-sided player, being entirely unsupported by Ryan Mendes. Perhaps that was Eric’s undoing? The inability to track back and lend support to his right back exposed us and that is, inevitably, where the goal came from. There’s no arguing Eric was out of position though – ball-watching if you will – which allowed Olsson the time and space to receive the ball and dispatch his shot goal wards. It had been a perfunctory display from both sides up to that point, but a defensive error was our undoing. As of late, that has been a rare thing indeed, but it still doesn’t make it any easier to bear.
By this time though, we’d lost the battle; swapping Cohen for Jamie Ward in an attempt to give us something more up top had relinquished that solidity in the central midfield area. Macheda was replaced by Oliver Burke shortly after the goal, but even that didn’t spark us into life. Oliver’s time on the pitch was just an ineffective as Macheda’s – but that’s through no fault of his own. He just didn’t get much time on the ball and with us not creating anything in terms of threat in the final third, he just doesn’t have the experience at this level to grab the game by the scruff of the neck and make it his own.
Defensively sound, but creatively stunted and with no recognisable goal scorer, the need for Henri Lansbury and Britt Assombalonga to make an appearance or 6 before the end of the season seems like an absolute must. That both may well be called upon with no match fitness – just to give us a glimmer of a chance – applies a great deal of pressure. Our Henri has shown the mental fortitude in the past to return with enough nous to know what’s required of him. As for Britt, well he’s been out for such a long period you have to wonder what psychological effect such an injury can have. Will he be the same player? Will he have the strength and confidence to start this next part of his career where he left off? The pressure of being the one player all Forest fans have been clamouring for could not be greater. We’ll just have to wait and see.
COME ON YOU REDS!!!