Despite the pre-match talk of missing players, we managed to put together a reasonable starting XI, however looking at the bench tells you exactly why things went so wrong... Read More...
The FA Cup is proving to be an enjoyable distraction from our struggles in the league this season. After victory at Man City and a battling draw at the Sheep, we now have Man Utd waiting for the winners in the next round.
With Morgan missing due to family illness, Wilson moved to centre half with Lynch returning from injury at left back.
From a Forest point of view, the first half was a non-event as we struggled to put enough passes together to make an impression on the game. The supply to Tyson and Earnshaw mainly consisted of aimless punts downfield with very little support from the midfield.
They created a few decent openings but failed to really trouble Smith until a cross from the right, a neat dummy and a smart low finish put them in front. We got away with a few other scares from set pieces and were relieved to only be a single goal down.
Lynch paid the price for a poor first half by being replaced with McCleary. Cohen withdrawn from the midfield to shore up the defence at left back with McCleary right and Anderson moved to the left.
Forest were transformed at the start of the second half, instantly imposing themselves and putting the hosts on the back foot. Wilson carried the ball forward and fed Tyson whose low shot was well saved. Tyson continued to threatened down the left but too often found himself lacking in support to take full advantage.
With an almost identical goal, it wasn’t a surprise when Forest equalised. McCleary’s cross from the right, Tyson’s step-over and Earnshaw’s turn and low shot. Forest continued to press forwards with Earnshaw and McGugan both having efforts straight at their keeper.
Forest looked set to go on and sneak a win until a bad injury to Anderson caused a major disruption to the game and turned it in the host’s favour.
Smith had to produce a number of decent saves in the closing stages to earn the replay. One tip over from Hulse’s bullet header stood out amongst period of sustained pressure on the Forest goal with Commons also being denied.
MOTM Smith continued his decent run of form since Camp’s departure and kept us in the tie in the latter stages. Lynch looked badly out of form, struggling to keep up with play and giving the ball almost as soon as he’d received possession. Another option in the position has to be the absolute priority in this transfer window.
Chambers did what was required, used the ball much better and looks more comfortable since his re-introduction to the side.
We didn’t miss Morgan too much thanks to Breckin and Wilson’s combined efforts. Wilson in particular set the standard at the start of the second half bringing the ball forward into dangerous areas.
McGugan was anonymous in the first half and only slightly better in the second. Perch wasn’t that much better but at least put in some crunching challenges when required. Once the left back position is sorted out, sorting out this position has to be the next priority.
Cohen was the best in midfield in the first half and best defender in the second and continues to lead by example. Even from the defensive position, he was able to drive the team forward and showed Lynch exactly what we need in terms of effort and ability on the ball. In Lynch’s defence, Cohen tends to drift inside and won’t provide the same level of support as Anderson on the other side.
We’re going to miss Anderson in the coming weeks with his tireless running with the ball and energy to get back and support the defence. He’s been improving as the season has been progressing with a better end product to match his endeavour. It remains to be seen whether McCleary can repeat his decent form from earlier in the season to replace him. Davies doesn’t look like realistic replacement on the basis of his recent appearances. Get well soon Paul.
Tyson looked a real threat in the second half when the rest of the side started to provide a reasonable level of service. Another tireless ninety minutes effort, chasing lost causes and creating opportunities from nothing. Alongside him, Earnshaw continues to provide great value with another clinical finish just when we needed it. Even without the ball, his work-rate was outstanding, formin
A fantastic afternoon's entertainment and a thoroughly deserved victory. We defended as a team, battled hard in midfield and broke expertly on the break using the pace throughout the side.
Scoreboard photo by Paul Bainbridge
We kept the same formation as we used at Norwich but with a slight change of position. Cohen replaced Heath at left back with Tyson moving to left midfield and Earnshaw starting up front on his own.
There were two incidents in the opening stages of the game that turned things in our favour. Perch made a crunching early challenge but forced him out of the game shortly afterwards. This allowed Cohen back into midfield to dominate from that point onwards and drive the team forward. Wilson joined the action at left back. Secondly, City's one real danger, Wright-Philips limped off with an injury and left them struggling for quality going
The biggest difference today (and at Norwich) from recent weeks was the passion and determination shown by our midfield, wanting the win more than their opponents. We hassled City from start to finish and never let them settle on the ball. Too often this season we have stood back and let the opposition play but today was a different story.
We started the game brightly and missed three free headers from McGugan, Thornhill and Breckin that we should have done better with. At the other end, Smith made a decent low save before we opened the scoring.
Tyson's stunning volley on the run after a poor clearance before Earnshaw doubled the lead following Cohen's challenge and Thornhill's shot.
With City improving early in the second half, Smith made one outstanding tip over from a long range effort to preserve our lead. Morgan had to dive in to block another goal-bound effort. City had most of the possession but failed to cause Smith too many other problems.
Garner replaced the tiring Earnshaw and soon joined in the fun. Hamann threw the ball straight to him and he cut inside onto his left foot and scored with a low shot inside the near post.
Even in the latter stages, we continued to catch City on the break but tiredness prevented us from capitalising.
Smith made an impressive return to the first team. Every decision he made was spot on, choosing to catch or punch when required and made a series of faultless saves. One low save to his left in the first half and one tip over in
the second stand out.
Chambers got caught out a couple of times early in the game but recovered to put in a solid no-nonsense performance. Wilson, out of position at full back, won numerous aerial challenges and got back to clear one looping effort from under our bar. Centre halves Morgan and Breckin looked dominant throughout in the air and made those last ditch blocks when required. In summary, the defence looked like the solid unit that was so trusted last season. The return of Breckin has made a big difference.
MOTM Cohen has consistently been our best player this season but today was probably his best performance to date. The outstanding player in midfield, breaking up their attacks and, in contrast to Perch, driving the team forward. If only he could find some goals to compliment the rest of his qualities, we'd have a real player on our hands.
McGugan had another frustating afternoon with a series of neat touches and intelligent passing but too often he lacked sharpness, looked sluggish and cruised through the game. The one player in the side to slightly disappoint on the day and is capable of playing much better.
Thornhill continued to link up the midfield and attack intelligently, making late runs that went unnoticed by City. Time and again he found himself free aroung the edge of the area but we lacked someone to pick that killer pass in his direction. Even in the latter stages with Forest 3-0 he was still charging forward looking to support. Won a lot of physical challenges, even in the air, and starting to look part of the first team squad. The current
formation with runners breaking late from midfield to support a loan striker suits his style of play very well.
Tyson caused problems throughout raiding down the left hand side but still found time to help out defensively. Similar story with Anderson down the right with both players suiting the current style of play. Could easily have made it 4 nil but dragged his shot wide from a decent position.
Despite the obvious height disadvantage to Dunne, Earnshaw caused problems throughout and never allowed the City defence to settle. Tidy finish for his goal but this was all about his all-round performance. Garner replaced him for the closing stages, scored another neat goal and continued the good work, winning balls he had no right to.
Over to you Billy - the standard has now been set!