As the clock struck 11:15am on 28th September, Forest fans shuddered. The likes of Danny Collins and Guy Moussi both named in the starting eleven to face a Derby County side strong away from home were not what the supporters wanted to see.
Yet again though, Billy Davies gets it right. The back four that also included Eric Lichaj, Jack Hobbs and for the majority of the game Dan Harding, kept Derby at bay in convincing fashion. Forest’s bitter rivals usually resulted in punting the ball up the field aimlessly, which was easily dealt with by the grateful defence.
But why Derby resulted to hoofing it up the pitch, is the key question. When Derby have come to play at the City Ground under Nigel Clough in the past, they have arrived with one plan; Stop Forest from playing – Only this time, Forest were happy not to play. Horrible for the paying public to view, but effective in terms of the result.
The Reds, lining up with Moussi designed to break down anything that was conjured up by the Rams, alongside the industrious Henri Lansbury who likes a tackle or two himself.
Despite Moussi’s exit from the game early on, the plan wasn’t changed. The full-backs, Dan Harding and Eric Lichaj were happy to get forward, but reluctant in getting too advanced, which would play into the hands of a Derby side that included the dangerous Jamie Ward and apparently pacey Johnny Russell.
The key downfall in many local derbies for Forest has been their inability to cope with the tsunamis of pressure that would come their way. This time, Billy ensured they stayed solidly rigid, attacking with caution meaning that when then the likes of Ward, Russell and Martin did collect the ball, they were faced with many Red shirts eager to halt them.
The problems were there were Billy Davies men’ however, when they attempted to create chances of their own. With the sole man Darius Henderson as a striker, the easy thing to do is hoof it long in the hope he holds it up, which was the option frustratingly taken quite a few times by the defence.
As the game wore on, it grew apparent that if the deadlock were to be broken, it would probably have to be a set piece or something spectacular. Andy Reid’s well rehearsed corner was headed home by the delighted Jack Hobbs, who ran gleefully away to celebrate in front of the Trent End.
Forest were ahead, and Derby had rarely threatened. That theme continued after the break with Derby having good spells of possession, but being unable to break down the stern, brittle defence of Forest.
A game that Forest found a way to win. It wasn’t pretty, nor was it nice to watch, but it got the three points that saw off long-serving Nigel Clough’s job, and much to Forest supporters amusement, sees the man that many believe ruined Forest, Steve McClaren, employed as Derby ‘head coach’.
A perfect weekend for anyone who supports the Red end of the A52, but for the Black and White end, it’s not looking very promising.
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