MOTM Lee Camp
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.
19/02/11 15:00 Category: Championship
This was probably the best team performance we’ve seen this season. In contrast to Cardiff’s set of individuals, we had eleven men fighting for a common cause and desperate to earn those vital three points. Everyone played their part in the win, with the likes of Anderson and Earnshaw having much better games than in recent weeks. It was noticeable that in the closing stages, we looked the fitter side with the likes of Konchesky, Cohen, McKenna and McGugan covering plenty of ground. MOTM Camp made a number of key saves at important times, to keep us level in the first half and prevent them going ahead after the gift penalty.
To their credit, Cardiff started brightly and Camp had to make smart saves from Bellamy and Bothroyd whilst relying on Konchesky to clear another Bellamy effort off the line. Despite having the better chances, Cardiff still looked a little ordinary in possession and lacked subtlety in their build-ups. In contrast, we looked better in possession, even though it took us a little time to get going and start creating clear chances. Defensively, we looked solid with the two lumps up front for Cardiff resorting to falling to the floor every time Chambers or Morgan won another aerial challenge.
In an entertaining end to end game, we weren’t without our own chances. Anderson sent Earnshaw clear, only to see his effort ruled out for offside, when the former should have continued his dangerous run forward on his own. Cohen’s free kick found Earnshaw but he got too much on his close range header and it flew harmlessly wide when even missing it completely might have brought a better result.
Having looked like we won’t get the reward for a decent spell of possession and great inter-play, McGugan’s corner to the back post found Morgan to power a header into the roof of the net. With Cardiff increasingly on the back foot, Anderson combined with Earnshaw down the left and found McGugan whose effort clipped the bar. At this stage, we found ourselves in control and didn’t want the half to end.
The second half started a little disjointed with neither side really on top. We remained comfortably ahead, with only one effort, again saved by Camp, causing us any real problems. Suddenly, they found themselves back in the game following a shocking refereeing decision. McKenna clearly won the ball, no one claimed for a foul, yet the official saw fit to point to the spot and they found themselves level from nowhere. This only fired Cardiff up and one swerving effort from long range nearly caught out Camp but he saved well with his legs.
We continued to pass the ball well in midfield and look dangerous on the break and this proved to be the difference. McKenna continuing find performances he displayed in his early Forest career whilst McGugan looked a threat throughout with a definite return to form. Anderson looked much more threatening and was involved in a lot of the good moves we put together, with an end product to the runs he made. This sort of game was perfect for Cohen to show his energy from midfield with a number of neat touches whilst in possession, another player whose form seems to be returning just in time for the closing stages of the season.
The winning goal came from another neat build up in midfield. McGugan received the ball with his back to goal, suffered a bad tackle from behind but still managed to release Anderson, whose vision saw Earnshaw to score with typical ease.
As has been evident quite often this season, we look much more assured in the closing stages of games and never looked like surrendering the lead. We even had the best chance to extend our lead when Tyson won the ball in his own half, caught them on the break but saw his shot saved when both McGugan and McGoldrick were clear to his left. A strange decision not to release his team-mates but fortunately, one that didn’t cost us.
13/11/10 15:00 Category: Championship
A disappointing game in which we never got started and a draw was the most we ever looked like getting from the game. QPR had a few chances at the other end and MOTM Camp produced a few top drawer saves to keep us in the game.
The first half was instantly forgettable with Forest failing to put together any decent attacks and QPR taking advantage of some poor passing to create a number of dangerous chances.
Things only briefly improved in the second half when Earnshaw and Adebola joined the action but poor passing and a lack of numbers going forward held us back throughout.
Blackstock had a very poor afternoon and it was a surprise that he lasted as long as he did. Yet again, he struggled to get into the game and showed a poor first touch whenever the ball came his way. For a loan front man, its essential that he's able to hold the ball up and get the midfield involved.
The one chance we created saw McGugan's first time shot from Anderson's pull back that Kenny saved well. From the resulting scramble we had a half shout for a penalty but nothing to get excited about really. As soon as McGugan was replaced by Tyson, we shuffled the midfield around but QPR looked comfortable and were rarely put under any pressure.
Even the usually reliable Gunter and Cohen had performances to forget and combined with the disappointing recent form of Blackstock we lacked enough quality to justify any more than a point.
We've got through a number of tricky home games which has put us back within sight of the top 6. However, there are bigger tests to come on our travels with daunting trips to Cardiff and Leicester on the horizon.