Saturday, 25 October 2014

Nottingham Forest 1 - 3 Blackburn Rovers

I try not to use too many clichés when writing these reviews, but this really was the stereotypical game of two halves. From 1-0 up and comfortable to 3-1 down and soundly beaten in 45 minutes, the second half was painful to watch. Frustratingly, yet again Forest weren't undone by any wonderful football. Some sustained pressure led to an equalising goal then everything went to pot. 

After the defeat at Cardiff City, the battling draw against Watford offered some promising signs. The return to the City Ground saw the return of two up front, with Matt Fryatt replacing Ben Osborn. Despite being available following his suspension ending, Henri Lansbury could only claim a place on the bench, as did Eric Lichaj, who was replaced at left-back by Dan Harding. The visitors went with just Jordan Rhodes in attack. Well, they obviously had ten other players too but, you know what I mean. 

The game started with the obligatory dodgy Championship refereeing decisions, as Forest were called offside a couple of times and Ryan Tunnicliffe cleaned out Dan Harding without censure. For the most part, the first half was a scrappy affair, with blocked shots and misplaced passes. Jack Hunt's excellent run was finished with a poor cross straight into Rovers' keeper Jason Steele's hands. Then, following a fast break, Michail Antonio's cross went right behind Britt Assombalonga.

Not long afterwards the breakthrough came. The lively Assombalonga ran and hit a lovely curling shot with the outside of his right foot. It beat Steele and rebounded off the post, hit Fryatt on the knee and flew in. Proper striker's goal. The lead could've been doubled before the interval as Assombalonga went close a couple more times following good runs and shots. There was to be no further scoring though and the teams left the field with Forest ahead and no hint of what was to come. 

The second half saw an early interruption in play as Markus Olsson indulged in a comedy pratfall while chasing a through ball and required a few minutes' treatment. Rovers started to dominate possession and, perhaps in respose, Stuart Pearce replaced Fryatt with Henri Lansbury. This change failed to stem the tide though and, after the Reds failed to clear a corner, the ball fell to Alex Baptiste who lashed home the leveller. 

Lansbury then went close twice, first seeing his shot blocked by the feet of Steele, then seeing a curling effort cannon back off an upright. The game still seemed there for the taking until David Vaughan - who had hitherto been impressive - gave away the ball. Rovers broke down the right and a pinpoint centre found the noggin of substitute Rudy Gestede who firmly headed the visitors into the lead. Less than two minutes later things got worse. A long punt upfield got the usually exemplary Michael Mancienne into bother and he misjudged the bounce. Jordan Rhodes didn't though and he picked it up, cut wide and steered it into the corner for 3-1. And that was that. 

Well, pretty much. Jamie Paterson's introduction as sub didn't really help as he got into good positions but failed to pick out red shirts, which was pretty much the story of the match. Forest got into lots of threatening situations but the final ball was mostly lacking. In contrast, Blackburn's crossing caused problems that Forest ultimately couldn't answer. Chris Burke's wild slash wide when well placed was a fitting end to proceedings. 

I'm not sure how to sum this match up, just as I'm not sure where it went wrong. We certainly didn't make the best of good situations and probably sat too deep when ahead. We seemed to lack a bit of urgency until Rovers drew level and, as a result, the momentum swung so far that we couldn't wrest it back. 

Ending on a positive note, as I always try to, David Vaughan produced a polished performance and despite this lamentable run of form we're still only four points off the top and it's not November yet. A loan signing or two would boost the numbers and perhaps the morale and hopefully there'll be some movement on that front before the next match. All things, good or bad, have to come to an end. This run will be no exception. 

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