|Nottingham Forest 1 v 0 Ipswich Town|
Tuesday, 5th March 2013 Kick-off 19:45
Nottingham Forest 1-0 Town
Tuesday, 5th Mar 2013 21:57
Town had two players sent off in a match for only the second time in their history as they fell to an unlucky 1-0 defeat at Nottingham Forest. Lee Martin saw red just before the break after an altercation with Henri Lansbury, then Richard Stearman received a second yellow card for a clash with Andy Reid in the second half, before the Blues' stubborn resistance was broken by a deflected Lewis McGugan shot in the 84th minute.
Andy Drury and Daryl Murphy came into Mick McCarthy’s otherwise unchanged side for skipper Carlos Edwards, who has a groin injury, and David McGoldrick, who was unavailable against his parent club.
In the Trinidadian’s absence, former Forest skipper Luke Chambers – who was booed by his old fans - wore the Town armband. Ex-Blues loanee Danny Collins captained the home team.
Jay Emmanuel-Thomas missed out on a place on the bench due to illness, while Tyrone Mings and new loan signing Reece Brown were in the matchday 18 for the first time.
The game began in thickish fog with the Blues in white employing only Michael Chopra up front. Drury was behind him ahead of Luke Hyam and Guirane N’Daw with Murphy on the left and Lee Martin on the right.
In the seventh minute on-loan Norwich defender Elliott Ward picked up the game’s first booking for a tackle from behind on Chopra. After Aaron Cresswell’s freekick had been somewhat unconvincingly cleared for a corner, the Blues put a number of crosses into the box but without being able to create an opening.
On 10, Forest keeper Karl Darlow hammered a clearance against Chopra but the deflection flew favourably for the home side.
Seven minutes later, Richard Stearman joined Ward in the book for a late challenge on Simon Cox with neither goalkeeper yet tested in a typically tight Championship encounter.
One-time Forest loanee Martin went close to opening the scoring in the 21st minute with a dipping 25-yard strike which was just too high. A minute later, Cox hit a deflected strike through to Stephen Henderson.
The Irishman made the first significant save of the match in the 24th minute when Henri Lansbury rode a couple of tackles and took the ball into the area on the left but Henderson was out quickly to block as he looked to cut the ball across the six-yard box.
Town should have been awarded a penalty in the 28th minute when Martin was felled as he skipped between Radislaw Majewksi and Adlene Guedioura after a short corner on the left. It looked inside the area but referee David Webb gave a freekick on the edge of the box, much to the annoyance of Martin in particular.
The Blues sought to take it quickly with the ball played square to Murphy, who netted only for the referee to call play back. Eventually, Cresswell and Drury worked the freekick to Martin, whose strike was blocked.
Town, who had by now switched to 4-4-2 with Martin on the left, Drury on the right and Murphy up front, threatened again in the 38th minute when Chopra hit low shot from 25 yards which Darlow saved with his foot. Martin crossed from the left, the ball came out to N’Daw, whose shot deflected wide.
Play quickly moved to the other end and Blackstock headed Andy Reid’s cross from the left wide when he ought to have done better.
The Blues were reduced to 10 men in the 39th minute when Martin pushed past Lansbury with his shoulder having been fouled by the former Norwich loanee not far outside the area. There seemed little in it but the Forest man collapsed to the ground and – with a melee developing around him – referee Webb showed a red card to the Blues midfielder and a yellow to Lansbury.
Chopra, who moved to left midfield with Murphy the lone striker for the final minutes of the half, hit a decent strike from the freekick, but it was deflected away by Collins.
Town had a further chance to go in front before the break but Murphy’s first touch let him down as he tried to take down N’Daw’s pass on the left of the area and Darlow claimed.
The Blues would have been delighted with their first 45 minutes’ work had they not been reduced to 10 men. They had created more chances than the home side and probably should have had a penalty.
Martin’s red card seemed harsh, there was no doubt Lansbury made a lot of very little, but similarly the winger, a Forest loanee during his time with Manchester United, shouldn’t have got involved in the manner that he did. The 26-year-old joins Pablo Couñago, Sito and Alex Bruce in having received three red cards with Fabian Wilnis the only men to be sent off four times while playing for Town.
Mick McCarthy kept the same 10 for the start of the second half and it was the Blues who started the brighter of the two sides.
With the fog by now slightly less thick, Cox hit Forest’s first chance of the second period wide in the 52nd minute.
Henderson required treatment in the 56th minute after colliding with Blackstock as the striker looked to get on to a cross from the right which Chambers cleared.
Despite the numerical disparity, Forest had made little impact since the break but thought they had found a way through in the 68th minute when Majewski played in Blackstock after a quickly taken freekick but the linesman’s flag was raised and Henderson saved in any case.
Town were reduced to nine men in the 70th minute when Richard Stearman picked up what looked to be a very harsh second yellow card. Reid knocked the ball past the on-loan Wolves man close to the touchline, ran into him and went to ground clutching his face. Again Town could feel somewhat hard done by.
Given the situation, it was little surprise that Mick McCarthy immediately brought on the more defensive Reece Brown, for his Blues debut, and Elliott Hewitt for Andy Drury and Michael Chopra. Soon after, Frank Nouble took over in the lone striker’s role from Daryl Murphy in what was a 4-3-1 formation.
Forest were unsurprisingly camped around the edge of the Town box by now but the Blues were remaining resolute. On 79 Henderson tipped Reid’s shot wide, then from the corner sub Lewis McGugan’s strike was straight at the Blues keeper.
With just over six minutes of normal time remaining, Forest got the stroke of luck their overall performance hardly deserved. McGugan hit a shot from 25 yards, the ball took a deflection, wrong-footed Henderson and nestled at the back of the net.
Town didn’t deserve to be behind having defended superbly despite the significantly reduced numbers. On 86 Forest sub Sam Hutchinson picked up a yellow card for a poor challenge on Hyam and soon after Reid joined him in the book following a scuffle after the ball had gone out for a Town throw.
In six minutes of injury time, Cox shot wide for the home side, who were still less than convincing against the nine men in white.
The nearest Town came to an equaliser was a Nouble header from a Cresswell cross, which Darlow dealt with comfortably. Soon after, referee Webb blew his whistle for the final time.
Despite the result, Mick McCarthy can feel proud of his side for the way they battled and came close to grabbing a draw with only nine men, with the goal that won the game a fluke.
Both red cards looked harsh with Forest players making much of very little on each occasion, while the Blues should have been awarded a penalty before the break.
Whereas Stearman appeared hugely unlucky to be dismissed, Martin - who was also dismissed on the only other occasion the Blues had two players sent off, at Peterborough last season - gave Lansbury the opportunity to take the fall in front of a referee who had already shown his keenness to use his cards.
The defeat and results elsewhere drop Town to 19th place, four points off the relegation places ahead of Saturday’s crucial visit to Peterborough when they will be without both Martin – who will be banned for three games - and Stearman, who is out for one.
Nottingham Forest: Darlow, Jara Reyes, Collins (c), Ward, Cohen, Lansbury (McGugan 63), Guedioura (Hutchinson 77), Majewski, Reid, Cox, Blackstock. Unused: Evtimov, Moussi, Greening, Lascelles, McLaughlin.
Town: Henderson, Stearman, Chambers (c), Smith, Cresswell, Drury (Hewitt 73), Hyam, N'Daw, Martin, Murphy (Nouble 77), Chopra (Brown 73). Unused: Loach, Mings, Kisnorbo, Mclean. Referee: David Webb (Lancashire). Att: 19,458 (Town: 694).
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