November 26, 2016 by notjustpumpkinbread
The yin and the yang of our Garibaldi coloured world has been encapsulated by our last two performances on the road.
For everything that was right with the game at Portman Road, there was everything wrong at Oakwell. In the first half at least.
Yet we still came away with 6 points and 7 goals!
Let’s be clear. I’m not about to enter into a tirade about the whys and wherefores of our first half display last night. My mind boggled at how little we seemed to get on the ball, but still ended the half 2-3 up!
There’s no finger-pointing to be had.
No berating the simply lovely Frenchman at the helm.
If it were all hunky dory we wouldn’t be Nottingham Forest would we?
I’m not looking for ‘total football’ or anything purporting to be such a thing.
I’m just basking in the glory of two fantastic wins away from home and the bagging of 7 glorious goals!
Britt’s brace against a poor Ipswich was a masterclass in goalscoring efficiency. A beautifully weighted ball from an outstanding Benny started it all off after a mere 17 seconds.
Ipswich reminded me of QPR – they were poor too, but we were unable to apply that killer blow to see them off before half time on that particular occasion. The international break seems to have come at the right for us. A re-establishing of PM’s core footballing requirements during that period may just have galvanised this squad. And we go again.
Our second on that night was a poachers goals – Britt ghosting in behind the defender to latch onto a headed ball from Matt Mills. If you’re wondering what Mills was doing in the box, well he was up there after we were awarded a free kick in the Ipswich half. I know Mills has come in for some criticism recently – and justifiably so – but good work from him to stay in the box, challenging for the ball, resulted in our second goal.
Did Ipswich look like scoring?
No, not really. But you never know with our current defensive frailties. To see that game out with our first away win of the season and a clean sheet was simply fantastic! And to see Dani Pinillos back in his rightful place was a bonus. He looked like he’d never been away. His substitution just after the hour mark was understandable, but the news that he probably needs surgery to fix another knee injury – albeit a minor one according to Philippe – is a major blow. Again.
We don’t normally play that well in front of the cameras. And to say Benny was sensational would be an understatement. A deserved MotM award and he’s clearly relishing his number 10 role.
So, on to Oakwell on a Friday night and another game on Sky.
I heaved a sigh of relief when Andy Hincliffe turned out to be the co-commentator rather than the travesty that is Don Goodman. He almost spoiled the winning mood with his Forest negativity during the Ipswich match. He has nothing good to say about us. I was watching that match with my wife – who isn’t really interested in football – and even she noticed how poor he was!
Anyway. Barnsley. Away. On Sky.
What could possibly go wrong?
Well everything it seems after just 5 minutes. I suppose you could say Fox – in for the injured Pinillos – could have been tighter. And Perquis could have made more of an effort to get his head on the ball. A stronger Mills might also have stopped the Barnsley striker from getting on his wrong side. Perm 1 from 3. And so our defensive frailties were brought to the fore.
And we didn’t seem like we could get on the ball and string 3 passes together. Yet, after 13 minutes we’d been awarded a free kick in a tempting area of the field and our Henri stepped up. Rolling it to Kasami to create a better angle, he lashed one along the ground to beat the hapless keeper and level matters. We’d been pretty rubbish but were back in the game.
Only for our defensive frailties to be exposed. Again.
A statuesque back line watched on as a ball over the top was met by the perfect run of another Barnsley fellow who duly dispatched the gift offered him. And a mere 1 minute had expired since our equaliser!
It was only what we deserved to be fair. We were poor and Barnsley were taking full advantage of that.
But the away support kept singing. The players kept running. Our Henri was putting in one of those games.
We still couldn’t get any flow to our play, but some nice work from Fox and a one-two with Benny saw the left back run onto the ball and cross it first time. Fizzing past a lunging Henri, a lunging Burnley defender and connecting with the leg of a lunging Vellios, the ball looped ever-so-gently over the hapless keeper and levelled the game.
It was bonkers! We weren’t at the races but still managed to conjure another equaliser. I thought I was dreaming!
Four goals in 24 minutes!
But it hadn’t finished. We still looked vulnerable to be fair. We still couldn’t get any flow to our game. Balls being lobbed up. Me wanting us to get the ball on the ground and pass it around. Another lobbed clearance and this time Vellios – in the centre of the park – chested it, shrugged off a kind-of challenge from a Barnsley player and looked up. There was Benny, advancing on the left and our Greek striker had the wherewithal to pick him out.
Benny was the furthest forward and while Vellios is no slouch, he wasn’t going to make it into the box in time. But our Henri knew this and lit the afterburners on the halfway line to make himself available. As he streaked into the box Benny let fly. Our Henri met that cross with his head around the penalty spot and there was nowhere else that ball wanted to be part from nestling in the back of the net. Oh, the glory!
What. A. Counter-attack. There was certainly a flow to that particular move.
Our Henri had bagged another pretty much on the stroke of half time. It wasn’t a smash-and-grab rather than a hit-and-run. The bloodied Barnsley players must have trudged off the pitch wondering what had hit them.
I’m not sure what I had witnessed in that first half. I’ve definitely seen us player far better this season and come away with nothing. “How are we winning?” I thought.
Sheer determination, that’s how. A spirit and will to win that seems to have infected the whole squad.
And it was only half time.
Barnsley had their chances, that’s for sure, but we looked better in the second half and more nice work from Vellios saw Mancienne – playing as right wing-back for the injured Lichaj – run onto a nice pass from the striker. His first touch pushed the ball up the pitch while his second was a great cross into the box. This time it was the advancing Benny who leapt to meet the ball, guiding it to the far post beyond the hapless keeper. We were in utter nirvana! Benny scored with his head! From a cross put in by a central defender playing as a wing-back!
Then a Burnley player lost his head while challenging for a ball with Lam. A tangle of legs while Lam was on the floor resulted in the clear intent to stamp on the Forest player. Straight red for home team player and it looked like there would be no way back for our hosts.
Our bench consisted of 4 players making their first squad appearance since being injured, Matty Cash included. Three of the four – Bendtner, Vaughan and Cash ended up on the pitch – with a bustling and harrying Cash doing enough to earn a penalty just 3 minutes after coming on.
It was Lansbury’s chance to score a career-first hat trick and he made no mistake. I was just wondering when was the last time we’d scored 4 away from home and won a game when all that happened. Ironically, it was against Barnsley on 27th October 2012, with Forest old boy Marlon Harewood putting them 1-0 up, before Halford, Cox, Cohen and Jenas bagged our goals. We had scored 4 away from home in that bonkers draw at Blackpool on 14th February 2015 as well.
But 5 away? When was the last time we did that?
20th March 2012. Yes, that’s right. Elland Road and the 3-7.
It doesn’t make much sense, but who cares, right?
There’s a togetherness with this squad and our coach that appears to be building. It could be that PM has a better understanding of Championship football now as well. Dare I suggest it may well be coming together? I know it’s only two games. I know we’re still leaking goals. There’s an injury list as long as the Nile and we’ve got to play Newcastle next. But something’s building. Can you feel it?
COME ON YOU REDS!!!
P.S. Danny Fox’s beard is and always will be magnificent!