Saturday, 27 September 2014

Nottingham Forest 0-0 Brighton and Hove Albion

About the only positive I can take from this game is that we got one more point than we did in last season's corresponding match. Other than that, there was precious little to get excited about as Nottingham Forest stuttered to their second consecutive goalless draw in the league, courtesy of their worst performance at the City Ground this season. 

As expected, Stuart Pearce recalled the players he'd rested against Spurs on Wednesday night, meaning that the likes of Karl Darlow, Michael Mancienne and Britt Assombalonga returned to the starting lineup. Robert Tesche and David Vaughan were picked as the deeper midfielders, but the latter got injured - again - in the warm-up, and his place was taken by Ben Osborn. Osborn could perhaps have counted himself unlucky not to have started anyway, after his impressive performance at White Hart Lane. 

Brighton also started with one up front, in the form of Craig Mackail-Smith, while his fellow attackers Chris O' Grady and Joao Teixiera both started on the bench. My hopes for this match weren't high when I found out that Robert Madley was the referee, and it pretty much panned out as expected. 

The visitors opened up brightly, with Darlow forced into an early save, before Forest started to exercise some control. However, though Brighton were happy to let the Reds keep possession in their own half, as soon as they tried to play through the Seagulls, the shutters were well and truly put up. As a result, chances were at a premium, and the only save of note that visiting keeper David Stockdale had to make was from a deflected Robert Tesche effort. Bar having to clear a few long balls, Karl Darlow was also relatively untroubled and it was no surprise when the first half finished goalless. 

Things didn't change much after the interval, with Sami Hyypia's men happy to soak up pressure and hit Forest on the break. A couple of their more dangerous attacks ended up with offsides, and a dangerous cross saw Michael Mancienne divert the ball just wide of his own goal. 

Lars Veldwijk's introduction nearly bore fruit, as he just couldn't stretch to convert a dangerous centre, and Mancienne headed over late on when well placed, his attempt thudding into the turf before clearing the crossbar. In the end a draw was probably fair, though disappointing. 

Considering most of the team was rested midweek, this was a strangely lethargic performance. Henri Lansbury in particular was out of sorts. Kelvin Wilson completed another 90 minutes and was deservedly named the sponsor's Man of the Match. The creativity and endeavour of Andy Reid and Matt Fryatt respectively was sorely missed, and the sooner they're back in the starting XI the better. 

Still, we remain unbeaten and in an automatic promotion position, so things aren't that bad just yet. 

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