May 9, 2016 by notjustpumpkinbread
Well, what can I say?
It’s been emotional?
Not really. Well, except for that last bit of course. Those glorious couple of minutes when all was right with the world.
But what of the rest?
By most fans’ expectations, we’ve had a poor season. Dogged by injury and some bang average football, but you know what? I’ve had a great time. My first season as a season ticket holder and I’ve really enjoyed it – despite the stuff that’s going on at our club.
There was a bit of a carnival atmosphere at Stadium M.K. The sun was shining brightly and nigh on 4,000 fans of the Mighty Reds had made the trip to have a bit of a party. The illness at the club which had laid low some players earlier in the week denied us the opportunity of seeing our Henri and Dex. Now, you might think being denied the opportunity of seeing Dex was (perhaps) a good thing, but he’s been pretty good these last few games; so we were, instead, given the chance to watch Chris O’Grady up top and unfortunately he’s far from the player we saw against QPR all those months ago.
Apart from that, the sprightly Oliver Burke was given a start – which was nice – while the rest of the line up was the same as the Fulham and Wolves games. A big thumbs up to Jordan Wright for making the match day squad – a replacement for the injured Dimi Evtimov (get well soon Dimi). Mr Wright has plied his trade in Jack Lester’s very successful U18’s team this season, so it was a well-earned place on the bench for him.
For all the hype about the plush, padded seats in the ground, we weren’t going to be utilising them that much, as the Garibaldi throng sang, chanted and generally had a good time from minute one. We didn’t have to wait too long, as a lovely ball from the left – courtesy of young Benny – found the head of a leaping Chris Cohen. One lovely cushioned header later and we were celebrating (“There’s only one…“) Chrissy Cohen’s first goal since 21st September 2013 (Doncaster away, 2-2 final score if you’re interested). Seven minutes had passed and it looked like the party was about to get going.
But 11 minutes later and a sweeping move down the pitch by M.K. Dons saw Josh Murphy serve a ball into the box on a plate for none other than Nicky Maynard to fire home for the equaliser. Damn and blast. What is it about players who’ve appeared in the Garibaldi scoring against us? What made it slightly worse was the fact he’d played for a contract in our pre-season games – and not done a bad job in my opinion – but was told he wouldn’t be needed. I suppose 6 goals in 35 games this season is some proof he’s had his best days.
Anyway, that really stilted the gathered throng. Numerous attempts by a small band of fans to get the party reignited failed and with the home support equally muted, the whole thing was in danger of turning into a bit of a damp squib.
The ref wasn’t helping much either. A nice, robust tackle from my Player of the Month, Danny Fox, was met with a surprising straight red. There had been an incident a few minutes prior, when an M.K. Dons player found a Matt Mills shaped brick wall just outside the area, only for the ref to give a free kick. Fox had a bit of a chirp at the ref for that decision and a further “polite word” post-tackle, as the M.K. Dons player laid on the turf as if both legs had been amputated. I can’t help wondering if all were contributing factors to Fox being handed an early bath. I certainly don’t lay any blame at Fox’s feet though. It was just a disappointing end to a really good few games for him.
The subsequent changes saw O’Grady replaced by the returning Michael Mancienne, with Oliver being thrust up top. Now some would say we were pretty much playing with 10 men anyway, such was O’Grady’s contribution to the game. Either way, sticking our pacey right winger up top to plough a lonely farrow only helped to shorten his time in the game, as by the time he was replaced by Mendes on 68 minutes, he looked thoroughly knackered.
So, the half ended on a bit of a downer and those plush seats were looking mighty tempting as the second half approached. As the players kicked off, there was no more standing throng, just a sitting mass, waiting for reignition, probably thinking to themselves that they’d seen this all too often this season. That damp squib was becoming an inevitable end to a (somewhat) shambolic season.
Of course the upturn in all of this was the introduction of (“Do-do-dooo…“) Britt Assombalonga on 61 minutes for Robert Tesche. That golden shock of hair a reminder to us all that (perhaps) one day that golden, goal-scoring touch of his will propel us to glory. The M.K. Dons forced Dorus into a couple of good saves and it was young Benny again the catalyst for euphoria. As the ball came to him on the left, a deft touch took it beyond the advancing Dons defender. Running onto the ball, Benny made a first time pass to Britt on the edge of the box. He still had a bit to do, but shifting the ball to his right gave him the space to fire it home.
It was a goalscorers’ goal.
It was what we’d been missing for the entire season.
A half chance, but enough of chance for someone of Britt’s obvious quality.
It filled the heart with joy and moistened the eyes.
Britt was back. He’s not even fully match fit yet, but that doesn’t matter. He’s not lost that touch.
It meant everything to the Forest Faithful. It trumpets possibilities. The resurrection of hope. The realisation for some that it still matters.
Two Forest players returning from career-threatening injuries, scoring goals and winning the game. After a season of many things, most of which weren’t very good, we were treated to moments of hope.
There’s a long way to go before the start of the season, but however insignificant the result was when considering its impact on the division, it holds some significance for the playing future of this great club.
Thank you for reading this post and any others during the course of this season. It’s been (mostly) a joy to write and I hope to do it all again next season.
Have a good summer.
COME ON YOU REDS!!!