|Nottingham Forest 2 v 0 Ipswich Town|
Saturday, 1st December 2018 Kick-off 15:00
|PositivelyPortman added 17:26 - Dec 1|
MattBatt69 added 18:07 - Dec 1
guentchev added 18:19 - Dec 1
Mullet added 21:29 - Dec 1
Bart, Spence, Chambers, Pennington and Knudsen understandably familiar. Skuse was the link between the defensive bank of four and middle bank of Ward, Bishop, Lankester and Sears as Jackson spearheaded what was a 4-1-4-1 in practice against Forest’s 4-2-3-1.
Town started well, and both goalmouths were stalked, as either side felt out the other.
Jackson was sent forward to see what 35 year old Dawson and his partner Hefele had in their locker. But it was Ward coming in from the left after a set piece who was felled cheaply for an early penalty shout. We’ve all seen them given, but the referee only rolled his eyes as the ball did the same off Colback’s clatter.
Any stench of unjustness from struggling Town fans could be masked by the accompanying desperation that such moments might be pivotal when you’re this rotten. The game turned a slow tide against the Blues as our defenders split, and Bart pushed the ball between them around the back looking for a gap in the Tricky Trees to exploit.
When facing Bart our back line cut diagonal passes in, when facing up the pitch the pushed them out to Ward or Sears via the full backs. This concertina possession did little to squeeze the life out of the home side, wary of making a mistake, waiting for us to inevitably do so.
It didn’t long, and it didn’t need much. Whilst the full backs had come under much scrutiny in recent weeks, every man had their equivalent for Town as the throw came in. Chambers nodded up and out, but Lankester clearly forgetting his position and the fact there was a lot of turf and Forest’s right back between him and the touch line, left the only man near the ball to collect it.
Unchallenged he drilled it at Bart, it seemed reasonable from behind the Pole for it to ricochet, but all the venom dripped from his gloves as Grabban took just nine minutes to be the Canary in the goalmouth and leave the home fans singing.
There was silence among the 1500.
It was back to more of the same from Town, careful play and static intent in our own backyard meant the lengthier pass and movements off the ball were needed. When Jackson unlocked the defence in what has become a hallmark of his ability, he brought down Lankester’s through ball with his standing foot. The one swinging for a shot arced through fresh air as the rest of the City ground filled with laughter and a rendition of “that’s why you’re going down”.
The game had little drama as the division between the strugglers and top six side only told in the subtlest of motions. Skuse ripped through challenges in uncharacteristic fashion. Leaving Lolley gagging and spluttering his shin in hand as he writhed, Cole merely trotted away as the game continued. Clearly many felt he deserved a card, but he’ll be off many lists in this shire despite winning the ball fairly.
Town grew into their role as underdog and slipped away from the team in the lead with a scintillating Ward cross. The build up and deeper play making Bishop via Spence fed the man in from the cold. His ball in from the right landed on the head of Jackson who should have been in the right place at the right time. But he could only glance it askew when a leveller looked easy.
There was a sense that everything the Blues tried was not going to come off. Corners and free kicks looked a good route back into the game. But all were blocked without too much manoeuvre from the home side.
It was Darikwa who would overlap again and find a deep cross with more whip than
Ward’s. The Forest playmaker danced into space but could only crash his effort against the post as all watched on holding their breath. It was not just as easy as Jackson’s, but similar, and despite the same result, like a lot of what other teams do in games; better.
It would not be long before Town would have their deficit smashed into the ground.
Again, all danger was designed and directed by the Reds’ right hand side, Darikwa allowed to get away from Sears when all others were marked. As he drilled it into the box, Grabban was now afforded time and space to despatch from point blank. If Town fans had felt like hostages in this 17 years of 2nd tier football, the Gods of football had clearly heard their pleas and were storming the building.
There were seven more minutes before the half came to an end.
Bart made his second decent save, as he tipped over again from arguably the man of match Darikwa, and then the corner was intricate enough that former loanee Colback slammed a drive over the bar. It was a game where it felt like nothing really happened, but either side had claim to more than one goal, perhaps two. Only the hosts had actually made theirs though.
The suffering and silence did not diverge until the whistle. It signalled to a fraction of the massive away support, who booed their side off. The frisson that can only come from verbal dissection echoing in the concourse, or the reflected warmth of a busy urinal, merely spiriting the rest of us away to our rituals and refreshments.
“What can he say at half time?” Said someone behind us. Hopefully it involved simple instructions and a reminder of pride and duty.
Ipswich came back out refreshed and undeterred. The game seemed lost to many, and to a few so did our chances of survival. Not just on what they had seen today, but against Bristol, West Brom and a lineage stretching back to August. Beyond that, the last time we were here, McCarthy had gone and Forest were heading down, all until a makeshift Town delivered 2 late goals and a sense of restoration.
Short months, become light years in fortunes, as no such ground was given by Forest.
Ipswich needed to do something within the hour, and neatly moved and played the ball around. Skuse and Bishop looked like the four years since their last regular dance together might help step up our fortunes. But it was only really half chances that had Suffolk eyes half racing to scoreboards, clocks and other results around the division all afternoon.
When Spence put a delightful Knudsen effort just wide, you sensed the chance for two players vilified in midweek to redeem themselves had gone begging. Sears too had not seemed to find a directness to his play that had yielded so many goals and so few points under Lambert.
Ipswich were going to have to dig deep if they were to fell Forest. Their lack of cutting edge again was becoming apparent. Sears looped a lovely dinked volley from distance over the giant Pantillimon, but a glove kissed it over. The bloke looks like a fluorescent crane, but even a decent corner was enough to have him punching it straight up like he was playing street fighter and it took a dirty block from Hefele to allow him to gather it unconvincingly.
Forest had their chances to add a third, and Skuse and the defence did well to ensure they didn’t with some industrious blocks and ball and chain defending when Forest had the upper hand. Lambert opted to put in Chalobah and Roberts, who had played in all of his matches so far and the rest seemed to do them good.
Chasing and careering through space and any one in their way, it added a verve to Town when they needed it most. But it also exposed how thin and weathered the squad is. Brittle like dried paper and stained by the events that brought them here, this is a side that can not take too much inspection from the rest of the league.
The 4-1-4-1 had not really worked, even if its parts had. Bart was lucky to see the woodwork save him once more when Grabban went hunting for a third, he probably deserved less than the man of the match award he was lazily given. It summed up his performance though.
Bishop was finding that like Spence and Ward, when he had the ball anywhere near 30 yards from goal he was shepherded by 3 to 4 players. As he bore down on the box, he was again fouled in a game where Town seemed dirtier and nigglier than they have more many years. I guess that’s inevitable when you’re up to your neck’s in sh1t.
Several players were leaving a foot in, a word in the ear of the ref and their opponent after the afters. It emanated a sense that if the draw was not to be today or ever from such positions, their leadless pencils might take an eye out of the odd team that looked on for too long, at least before the race is run.
Nolan joined the game and like Ward, raised little more than eyebrows with his announcement but soon had the odd sign of something. His bow for the Bish saw him almost like-for-like in more than just follicles and footwork. When he placed a cute pass behind Chalobah, it was the Chelsea man who had moved due to poor anticipation not the substitute. The home side broke through, and the neat and tidy aspects of our play were again swept aside by simple counter attack.
Karanka cycled through his bench, and there was little to delineate if they really made a difference, or just collected appearance fees and a chance to start more often in the busy festive period. The striker that replaced Grabban really should have scored when he laced a shot wide from what looked a reasonable distance.
There were seven long minutes of injury time. All it did was confirm and compound what had come in normal time. Whilst making us all late home as the traffic piled up with all the other woes and misgivings which we find ourselves in.
The one bright spot in all of this is the little bit of Blue Action we got at the back of the stand. When the player showed us something, they were given it back for 20 minutes or more. That anthem has become the soundtrack to our defiance “up or down”.
When you are cut adrift, you cannot control the waves that hit you. You can hold your breath, you can pray, you can kick and gasp and fight. Some of them will sweep clean the deck, some will engulf, some will break you and some will drown you. Every hole Lambert plugs in the line up seems to send the pressure elsewhere and splits open a new leak. Today the full backs were solidified, it was those beyond them that ultimately left us spitting and waving at the shore.
Perhaps in the distance a Yorkshireman sits upon a deckchair, watching on.
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