07 October, 2007

Nottingham Forest 2 - 1 Hartlepool United

First time in my Dad's seat in the Brian Clough Lower. So instead of hearing chanting, singing, swearing and moaning, it was mainly overhearing tales about grandchildren. Definitely a different experience to normal.

CC had us lining up in a 4-3-3:

Chambers Morgan Wilson Bennett
Clingan Lennon (c) Cohen
Tyson Agogo Commons

The game started relatively slowly - this was mainly down to Lennon who totally controlled the play. Every time the ball came to him he slowed things down and played the simple pass. When one of our players ran into a dead end he made himself available - again via a simple pass - and then gently got us moving again. Bennett and Chambers did a good job of providing width and it paid dividends when early in the first half Agogo tried to play in Tyson who missed the ball. Luckily Commons ghosted in at the back post for a simple tap in.

As the half went on the pace didn't really increase but we were definitely in control of things. The major incident was Commons having his legs taken out from under him in the penalty area - unfortunately he decided to exagerate and the ref waved play on. Hartlepools broke, Cohen laid on a dodgy challenge (in fury at the penalty decision) the ball spilt to Tyson who then had a two-footed lunge on one of his ankles, in retaliation for Cohen's tackle. Pools later broke down their right, a high lofted cross found Barker totally unmarked and he scored with a simple header. Probably unfair given the balance of play in the first half.

Second half and I was wanting Forest to step up a gear (as we had been playing at a pretty leisurely pace in the first). But it was Hartlepools that stepped up - fast short passing cutting through our midfield, without ever really threatening. Lennon's slow pace started annoying - we needed to step up, not put our foot on the ball. Gradually, as Hartlepools' dominance came to nothing we began to win the midfield battle. But the real turning point was Tyson. He started limping (I thought as a result of the earlier challenge but CC stated, afterwards, that it was his other foot) and needed some treatment. Shortly after Grant replaced him - and suddenly we seemed to click into place. Not because Grant was very good although he was involved much more than Tyson ever was. But Sammy took the game by the scruff of the neck and provided the engine that Lennon couldn't. With Clingan pulling the strings we started pushing Hartlepools back and eventually this paid off as Commons shot rebounded to Agogo to put the game beyond the Monkey Hangers.

All in all a big result for what was actually a big game. 3 points off the top with a game in hand, a decent performance and a quiet confidence about the team. I could imagine a similar game last year ending in an annoying last minute concession, rather than a late winner. We're not like last year's juggernaut - winning games without deserving it - instead we had to work but there was a level of belief I've not seen in a while. It's just a shame that third division football is so poor - CC said it was a great game - I don't really agree, even though it was probably as good as League One has to offer.

Man of the Match: Lennon in the first, Clingan in the second.
Honourable Mentions: Wes was immense, Chambers and Bennett did well and Agogo worked very very hard for little reward. The plaudits will go to Commons for the goals but he wasn't really in the game - not that I'm complaining. These mercurial types tend to drift in and out.

All in all, a good day.

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