April 24, 2016 by notjustpumpkinbread
Everything is still new to me, away days in particular.
I can count on the fingers of one hand the number of grounds I’ve been to. I can remember games I’ve attended but have a shocking memory for the minutiae of games I’ve seen us play.
This is my first season as a Season Ticket holder, but it certainly won’t be my last – I’m enjoying it too much. I love watching those 11 men wearing the Garibaldi, whether we win, draw or lose. And I like writing about it too.
The people I’ve had the great fortune to meet and interact with – whether it’s those that sit around me in the Main Stand, through Social Media (see, it’s not all bad!), online contributors to the Forest blog universe or, on the odd occasion, fans on away days. I met some more in The Fulham Mitre before and after the game; all with a passion for our club. All with a unique voice that elevates the experience. They’ve enriched this new “adventure” of mine and I’m truly grateful for that.
Block P6, Row ZZ of the Putney End – that was my vantage point for the game. Right next to a fellow punctuating the atmosphere with a bellowing “YOUUUU REDDDDDSSSS!!!” – as well as other things – throughout the 90 minutes.
Ross was his name – Season Ticket holder in the Lower Bridgford. He was a thoroughly nice chap. Was very complimentary about our surroundings, had similar views to my own regarding the qualities of our players and can be described as a “conscientious chanter” (thanks David).
He didn’t mind if the rest of the 2,208 strong travelling contingent joined in or not. He just sang/ chanted – but never swore. He told me about being a teenager attending Forest games; his group of friends egging each other on to try and start a chant in the ground, “we never did“, he told me. I can recall 2 occasions during the match when the gathered throng did pick up his chant. The look on his face said it all, a genuine smile telegraphing a thought of “I did that.” I’m glad I met him.
And what of the small matter of the game? Well, this “lower quarter of the table” clash wasn’t something many fans were really looking forward to. The thought of staying in The Fulham Mitre and continuing our nice afternoon chat crossed a mind or two, but we knew in our heart-of-hearts we needed to get to the ground. We weren’t disappointed we made the effort. In fact – and I know I haven’t been to many away games this season – I’d like to think it was our best away performance in the current campaign.
The only change to the team that drew with Blackburn was Cohen for Mendes. As the game commenced, I do have to admit to thinking we looked a bit short of pace. Still, no matter. We were organised, played ourselves into the game nicely and had Gary Brazil orchestrating things from the technical area. Paul Williams did venture from his seat-warming position on the odd occasion, but he probably felt a bit chilly on the banks of the Thames and decided to take shelter in the away dugout.
Our first goal on 23 minutes saw a well-worked training ground set-piece come to fruition. Our Henri ran the ball to the edge of the area, into the path of an advancing Robert Tesche who let fly across the face of goal and buried it into the top corner of the onion bag. The Putney End shook and we 0-1 up against free-scoring (but also freely-conceding) Fulham. They didn’t exactly roll over, but to be fair, Fulham were playing like a team in the lower quarter of the table. For the next 20 minutes Fulham toiled somewhat and threatened a bit, but found our back five to be resolute and alert.
Cue Robert Tesche again (maybe he was playing for a contract extension), this time to be upended just inside the area. Half-hearted remonstrations from the host team could do little to sway the referee’s mind (and why should they?) and up stepped our Henri.
“Please don’t blast it down the middle again“, I thought. He didn’t and we found ourselves celebrating a 0-2 lead away from home. Unbelievable scenes! The 6th April 2015. That was the last time we were winning 0-2 away from home. It was the Brentford game – another of my rare away days – and we all know how that one finished.
But a funny thing happened at Craven Cottage. While a combination of our nervousness and Brentford’s determination under Mark Warburton contributed to that particular final score, we displayed an air of confidence and belief in our own ability for the first time in a long while. OK, so we were a bit lucky that Ross McCormack’s free kick towards the end of the half cannoned off the underside of the bar. The resulting goal mouth scramble – which usually ends with the opposition scoring – was thusly seen off and we went in for orange segments and tea 2 goals up.
On to the second half and it started pretty much as the first had ended. A bit of toil from the hosts (occasionally forcing Dorus into a sharp save), nice neat play and interchanges from the visitors. In addition, it felt like we were “trying stuff“. That bit of confidence loosened us up a little, made us a bit more adventurous. Even a goal for Fulham on 62 minutes – header at the far stick from Matt Smith (not Doctor Who) – didn’t quash our team’s belief. Nor did it quash the Forest Faithful’s voice. Apart from a quick roar when Fulham pulled one back, the home crowd were bullied into silence by the traveling masses. It was all tremendously good stuff.
Then the icing on the cake was our third goal. Not just because it was scored in front of us, but because it felt like the best goal we’d scored this season. Nice build up, great communication between those in the Garibaldi and a good finish from Lansbury courtesy of a driven cross from Eric. There’s no better sight than a gaggle of your team celebrating a goal right in front of the away end. Oh, sweet bliss!
Fulham’s one goal deficit – and any hope of reeling us back in – was extinguished a mere 8 minutes after they gave themselves a glimmer of hope. The whole 11 played their part today. Special mention must go to Dexter Blackstock, looking yet again like a revitalised player. He’s put in more effort since his substitute appearance against Brighton than I’ve seen all season. Danny Fox looked assured once again, as does the manner with which he carries that beard.
Young Benny will run forever and Tesche showed the quality I touched on in my last write-up. Chris Cohen was Chris Cohen – and that’s a very good thing. As for our Henri, well, he looked the part and we can only hope he stays in the summer and performs to this level more consistently.
I won’t go through the whole team, but all can hold their heads high when considering yesterday’s performance. It was also nice to see Britt get another brief run out as he makes his way back to full fitness.
So that’s it. We’re absolutely, positively safe and the MK Dons game can be nothing more than a season closer. Let’s hope we have as much fun as we did at Craven Cottage. Of course before that it’s Wolves at home for the last time this season, so let’s build on this performance and hope we get something back from the team we’ve stood by all season. I’m sure we will.
As for me, well, I’ve never had the best of memories, but this particular away day will be remembered with fondness. I got a taste of what it used to feel like watching Forest win well away from home. Long may it continue.
COME ON YOU REDS!!!