April 20, 2016 by notjustpumpkinbread
At times, last night’s game resembled two slightly long-in-the-tooth, punch-drunk former champions, cagily dancing around the ring, not fully committed to the task ahead. Then, the instinctive synapses would fire, bringing reality to the fore; making these once proud title-holders realise the necessity of survival.
Let’s be under no illusion – Blackburn were there for the taking. They displayed a lack of hunger for the fight, but were allowed to compete by a team whose relegation-threatened season should have found much safer waters weeks ago, but now languishes in the inevitability of lowered expectation.
It could have been a lot different had we pushed our obvious advantage in the early part of the game. A revitalised Dexter Blackstock shot us into the lead – courtesy of a goalkeeping error – on 15 minutes and Blackburn stood off, waiting for more.
It never really materialised.
We’d looked nice and busy on the ball, but an inexplicable “defensive error” – in all honesty I couldn’t see what happened – led to Blackburn’s Danny Graham equalising 7 minutes later.
It’s not like Blackburn were totally inept; they’d had a couple of chances up to that point. It’s just we looked so much better on the ball. But it was all fits-and-starts. We weren’t stroking the ball around and dominating play, just looking better than our opposition.
Ryan Mendes was doing his usually infuriating thing of beating players while in possession, but not making the simple play to continue any forward momentum. That thing of passing to a teammate who’s only 10 metres away, who then passes it straight back was being perfected by Tesche and Gardner, with added Lansbury thrown in for good measure. I do get a bit frustrated with that.
Young Ben looked like he was everywhere and was Man of the Match if such an award could be given to a player who, for 90 minutes, looked like he was saying “give ME the ball!” Our Henri was once again employed in a more advanced role and grew into the game. He had a couple of corking efforts in the second half, forcing a fine save from Jason Steele with one and brushing the crossbar with another.
And, it has to be said, everybody’s favourite left back had yet another solid performance in the centre of defence. If it were a choice between Kelvin Wilson and Danny Fox, I’d choose Fox and his magnificent beard every time.
There was also the obligatory 5 minute purple patch for Robert Tesche in the second half, when the Forest Faithful could collectively think to themselves, “ah, that’s why he’s in the team.” There’s quality there, but just not on a consistent basis any more.
Oliver Burke replaced Mendes on 73 minutes, but never got into the game. My season ticket holding neighbour reckons he’s the type of player who needs to start matches to be more effective. I agree with that wholeheartedly.
Of course the highlight was seeing Britt Assombalonga take to the pitch sporting the Garibaldi for the first time since 11th February 2015. He was only on for 9 minutes (including stoppage time) but it gave the City Ground a real lift.
It’s Fulham away on Saturday and I’ll be there to see if we can win our first game since 8th March. They have conceded the second highest number of goals in the division, so you never know. They’ve also scored the fourth highest number of goals, um…
COME ON YOU REDS!!!