Sunday, April 11, 2010

A Tale of Two Halves - Match Report: Nottingham Forest vs Ipswich Town

Date: 10th April 2010
Result: Nottingham Forest 3-0 Ipswich Town
Scorer for Town: N/A. Because they couldn't hit a barn door with a banjo.

"It was the best of first halves, it was the painfully inadequate and poor of second halves" - Yes, 'A Tale of Two Cities' would start like that if it was about football. Only it'd probably have a Suffolk accent, because that's what Dickens did.

Anyway. After much umming and ahhing I finally managed to persuade my mum that going to Forest would be a worthwhile experience. So on Thursday after pressing redial on the phone for the Ipswich ticket office, we got the tickets. Yay! Well. Not so yay. I haven't seen Ipswich Town win on the road since January 2009. In fact, of the 27 away games I have seen Ipswich Town play, I have witnessed four, yes, four victories. I know it's better than some people, but still, I think I'm cursed. I'll digress because this stuff isn't important.

We arrived in Nottingham at 12:30ish. I've been there before but to go to Trent Bridge and watch England get stuffed by India and Australia (I really should've seen the signs...) I made the mistake of wearing the red away shirt, so I had three kids shout, "YOU REDS!" at me, which made me cough "Ipswich fan" into my hands. I'm a comedy genius. (Tumble weed)

The City Ground (far left) and Trent Bridge (far right) on a lovely day in Nottingham
Onto the match. And the first big surprise of the afternoon was the fact Keane named an unchanged side. Keane's a big fan of chopping and changing. Fair enough if we're playing a similar team to Derby, but we weren't. We were playing a team in the top six with big scary defenders, fast midfielders, strong strikers and Robert Earnshaw. The problems were evident in our side as soon as we kicked off.

The wing, once again, was non-existent. There seemed to be a diamond formation. In the centre circle. Jon Walters looked like he didn't have a clue, Colback's been off form recently and Leadbitter ran around like a headless chicken. Only David Norris seemed to be doing alright, and he was playing in front of the centre backs. Apparently.

However, overall, the first half was pretty decent. It was end to end and Ipswich had a few chances. With Forest blazing shots past the post and over the bar, when the referee blew his half time whistle, we had a right to be caustiously optimistic for the second half because we were getting forward, we were defending well and Forest kept on losing the ball. Who knows, a point like we got against Swansea could be on here!

Half time: 0-0

All cautious optimism was lost in the 47th minute. Rob "Alien" Earnshaw had a shot, Chambers stuck a leg out and we were 1-0 down. It was a very unfortunate goal and it just knocked the confidence of the boys in blue. 

Then, a few minutes later, Damien Delaney was tackled and lay on the ground. It didn't look good, and he hopped off (I mean it, he hopped) to the side and then sat on the ground looking absolutely gutted. Him and Delaney have formed a crucial partnership and have almost certainly helped with the resurrection since the early part of the season. Turns out it could be ligament damage to his ankle, so that's him out for the rest of the season (only three games, I know, I know). Keane decided to put on Tommy Smith rather than David Wright, in a move that was possibly trying to justify us recalling him from the Bees...

Billy Davies had changed tactics at half time, meanwhile Keane had kept it the same. Forest were now punishing us down the wing and beginning to find their shooting range and it was no surprise when the second was put in. Town couldn't string two passes together, Daryl Murphy looked knackered and Connor Wickham was being outmuscled. Any chances we did have were flung over the bar, with Jon Walters being the main culprit. In the 76th minute, the inevitable happened. Robert Earnshaw scored. It was like the Barnsley game where we'd been tormenting Jon Macken, they always score when we start teasing them. 

Whilst I expected us to lose, I didn't anticipate the capitulation in the second half. The way we were firing over the cross bar made me feel like I was watching a rugby game. The die hard away fans over my shoulder and a few rows back were singing, "We only came for the piss up!" and "We're only here for the Hooters!" and it seemed as though the team were as well.

The major concerns from this match were:
  • Jack Colback. What's happened to you man? Just because Keane loves you doesn't mean you have to stop playing!
  • Jon Walters. A name that has appeared in my concern list all too often this season. I shan't repeat myself again.
  • The lack of Counago. Yeah, OK, he's not the best away. And he sometimes won't try. But I'd rather have him than Healy, because Pabs has scored more than once for us. 
  • Delaney's injury. I hope it's not too serious because him and McAuley have been ace since the dire start. 
  • And finally, the wings. Again. In the words of drunken Delia, "Where are you? Let's be 'aving you!" Because that's where we're getting punished by better teams. And that's where we really, really need to improve. (As well as various other areas, but shush)