September 28, 2016 by notjustpumpkinbread
“SHOOOOOOOOOOT!!!!!!” was the cry from the Forest faithful.
The Lord duly obliged and those in attendance woke up.
It was an appeal made in vain as much as hope, flecked with a sense of cheekiness. The masses had done the same when the Moose was on the ball, but that was just a bit of fun.
This was a bit different.
When you sign someone like Nicklas Bendtner, there’s always the hope such a player – with all the stuff that imbues his aura – will pull it out of the bag one last time; to spite those that poured scorn on such a promising career.
We’d had a taste with a couple of headers in a couple of games, but we were willing this shot from nothing to be something more.
It almost was.
Another 6 changes – as our Gallic charge sought to find the right combination of ingredients – came as no surprise. In fairness it was a welcome return for Perquis – in to replace the vocally negative Mills – while Eric proudly wore the captain’s armband at right back. The Fox slotted in on the left and Mancienne made up the back 4 in front of the (delightfully bonkers) Vlad.
With the wings full of Carayol and Dumitru (I was still hopeful) it looked like we had a bit of pace going forward, while Bendtner was given his first league start in front of Osborn and Kasami. The major talking point was the return of David Vaughan in that all-important holding midfield role. Would he show the stunning form of last season?
Time would tell.
Little did we know how pedestrian we would look. Carayol seemed to think he was part of a Barclays Bank walking football advert, while Dumitru showed why he’s had 7 loan spells in 6 seasons. My hope that he would come good was evaporating faster than a puddle on the Mojave Desert.
There was a strange atmosphere around the ground as the game started and our performance wasn’t really helping. We weren’t utter excrement, far from it. We were just lacklustre in places and not looking like a team.
Despite this, Vaughan and Perquis were outstanding. The defensive pairing of him and Mancienne looks like a winning combination. And with our first choice right back in place, together with our best available left back, it was out strongest defensive unit so far this season.
I know Fox has many detractors, but he did little wrong last night. Yes there were some wayward passes as he tried one too many Beckham-esque cross field balls, but at least he was trying to set stuff up. I also liked that he was vocal – and not in a Matt Mills sense. I noticed this in particular in the second half as he was on my side of the ground. I can only hope he was like that in the first half too.
You could see his frustration with Dumitru at times as he tried to look for forward outlets to mount attacks. I’d like to see him play more regularly as Pinillos comes back to fitness. Two players fighting for one spot in the starting 11 can only be a good thing for the team. Oh, and his beard is still magnificent by the way. Just in case you were wondering…
As for Vaughan, well he was rightly made man of the match. It was an outstanding performance and something we’ve missed all season. His tackling, his persistence, his awareness of the game, his ability to make himself available for those in the Garibaldi, all were in full effect. Once again, I hope he now gets a run in the team in front of a settled back 4.
As for the wingers, well that’s another story entirely. I’d have brought Carayol off after 20 minutes, he was that poor. Utterly disinterested and pretty much walking around the pitch. He missed a good chance to open the scoring in the first half too, shooting wide of the target while about 8 yards out. Dumitru is a different prospect, but not in a good way. He just doesn’t look good enough, which is a shame.
Both were eventually replaced by Licá (for Carayol) on 55 minutes and Pereira (for Dumitru) on 72 minutes. Licá was ok, as was Pereira, but both had little impact on the game if I’m being honest.
And what of Bendtner? Well, that thunderous strike rattled the crossbar on 8 minutes. He then missed what looked like a sitter on 33 minutes before taking a good goal inside the area after 15 minutes of the second half. The Lord taketh away and the Lord giveth. Not long after that he dinked a delightful ball over a Fulham defender into the path of Dumitru who squandered a gilt-edged chance to make it 2-0.
I was also pleasantly surprised to see him drop back to cover Fox’s position as the left back marauded up the wing during the second half. Perhaps an indiction that he’s settling into the team and is prepared to do more than just saunter around up top?
I’d heard a couple of fans moaning about his substitution late in the game, as to why we weren’t playing 2 up top to chase the win. The more observant among you may have seen Bendtner stretching out his hamstrings in the opposition penalty area just before a corner, then indicate to the bench that he needed to come off. Philippe duly obliged and Bendtner was walking towards the touchline before his number had been put up, so he was done for the evening.
Fulham looked good and a 1-1 draw flattered us really. While we had chances to score, Fulham had 2 goals disallowed for offside as well as forcing Vlad into making two or three great saves. The first, after 19 minutes, was the best as he stopped a header with his right hand from pretty much point-blank range. He certainly kept us in the game and frustrated Fulham. I can’t see Henderson getting a look in at this rate. I know he’s been injured, but Vlad is different gravy.
So, we nicked a draw and looked poor in the process. Strangely, for all that there were still shining lights in the form of Vaughan, Perquis and Vlad as well as Bendtner having a pretty good game. Benny was industrious yet again and Kasami was Lansbury-esque (make of that what you will).
We need to improve though. And – obviously – get a settled side. It’s concerning that Philippe seems to think the players have fitness issues, hence the persistent changes, so maybe it will improve as their fitness does during the season. We’ll have to wait and see.
It’s 5th placed Bristol City away on Saturday, so a step up in performance is definitely required. A certain Mr Paterson will be eager to show us what he thinks he’s capable of, I’m sure.
COME ON YOU REDS!!!