Forest 0 - 0 Swansea City
Whilst this might look like an opportunity lost, in reality, we failed to produce the real level of performance we’re capable of and can consider ourselves fortunate not to be losing. Despite the early red card, we failed to take advantage and Swansea could easily have taken a lead back for the second leg.
However, if we had taken a narrow lead into the second leg, it’s likely that we would have adopted a defensive attitude which never seems to suit us well. With the current situation, it’s a straight ninety minute battle for Wembley and there’s no excuse not to go to Swansea and give them a game.
In the absence of Moussi it was back to the slow pedestrian style of play that we struggled to shake off earlier in the season. The importance of Moussi to the team cannot be over-stated and his presence on Monday could be the difference between the sides. Whilst McKenna is happy to watch the defence passing the ball aimlessly between themselves, Moussi takes control and gets the team moving forwards with purpose. Anyone at the Scunthorpe home game saw the difference without and then with Moussi and we badly need his influence in the second leg.
The loss of their left back produced a creditable response from Swansea and made life very difficult for us. Our build-ups were slow and predictable with the visitors attacking on the break with purpose.
Things livened up in the closing stages with the introduction of the pace of McCleary and Tyson. Apart from a hand ball shout from Cohen’s shot, an offside finish from Earnshaw plus a number of poor finishes from the same player, we did little to justify a lead. Despite sitting back for the majority of the half, Swansea had the best chance to break the deadlock when Dyer broke forward and Camp saved well at his near post.
There were a few positives to be taken from the game. At least we kept a clean sheet. MOTM Camp looked back to his best and made a number of decent saves to keep us in the game. He adjusted his positioning well to tip over a dipping free kick, got his body behind a deflected low shot and then prevented the dangerous Dyer from catching us on the break. Moloney, started nervously but coped well with Sinclair down our right hand side as he barely made an impression on the game. Boyd made a number of decent contributions but never found himself able to get an effort on goal. McCleary, provided width in the closing stages and at least tried to commit their defence into making tackles whilst running at them with pace.
In contract, the midfield in general was very poor, with the usual exception of McGugan who was expected to create everything for us. Having struggled to cope with their quick, incisive passing, McKenna’s inability to find a red shirt, he simply handed possession back to them. Cohen had a poor game by his standards, whilst Anderson seemed to be everywhere but where he should be and created nothing. Unless he’s playing wide on the right hand side and giving extra protection to the defence then we don’t get enough from him. Especially against ten men, we needed to stretch the game with players out wide but too often we ended up with a muddled mess of red shirts in the middle of the pitch.
Another poor performance from Earnshaw, a number of decent chances came his way with the most likely result being an aimless shot over the bar. One half-decent effort was hit straight at their keeper but that was it, he doesn’t contribute much else. If only one of those chances had fallen to Boyd instead.
There’s every reason to approach the second leg with confidence where Swansea have to come out and justify their favourites tag. Whilst we could easily have conceded five or six in the same fixture earlier in the season, we created a number of our own chances and caused havoc in the closing stages. Assuming we can get through the first twenty minutes there’s no reason why we can’t start imposing ourselves on the game but a lot rests on the fitness of Mr Moussi.