As the clock ran down against Bournemouth with Forest leading by a single goal, the manner of the home side went from being compact and professional, to slack and on the back foot, but why?
With half an hour remaining, Billy Davies men spurned the glorious opportunities created and allowed Bournemouth time to roam freely.
When Simon Cox handled the ball, he took the decision to play pointlessly with the ball before the free-kick was taken. Yellow card given. A controversial yellow card was given to keeper Karl Darlow after he took a bit of time to collect the ball for a free-kick.
Right decision? Probably not.
However, the effect it had on the Bournemouth team was easily visible. Two yellow cards for apparent time wasting efforts, and the Cherries were lifted. Eddie Howe’s men could sense they could cause danger, and played without fear; something the Reds couldn’t handle.
Forest retreated and opted to play in their own half. Despite Matt Derbyshire’s introduction, those sitting in the Trent End could see nothing more than the number on the back of his shirt, as he disappeared off into the distance, attempting to help out the defence under intense pressure.
Whilst the introduction of a striker sent out all the right signals as he stood off the pitch, the moment he stepped onto it would’ve been a big moment for Eddie Howe, who was then given a license to the knowledge that Forest respected Bournemouth – but a little too much.
Having spent a fair amount of money over the past couple of summers, with the manager getting roughly the squad he requires, is it right for Forest to succumb to pressure so quickly?
Forest certainly don’t have the divine right to win, but surely the strength in the squad should mean Billy Davies can play in the fashion he wants. Adapting to game situations is fine, but inviting the pressure through deliberate deep tactics at home is something that can’t be happening if the club want automatic promotion.
QPR are sitting pretty in the automatic promotion places largely down to their brilliant record of single goal wins, but what have they got that Forest haven’t?
Very good players on very good wages, but that didn’t aid them last season. They’ve been able to form a character to enable them to squeeze out results in a professional manner, staying on the front foot, ensuring the opposition knew who was in control.
Forest need that air of authority in their play if they’re distance to themselves from the pack in the playoffs.
Another integral psychological factor for Billy Davies to consider will be the handling of the players and in particular his strikers, as the public frustration of the supporters is starting to grow, and the discontent at the likes of the £2 million Simon Cox starts to get louder.
The general feeling from the red side of the Trent is that Forest need a new striker, but before the month of January when the probable new hero enters the Graveyard for players of that position, answers for the performances of the current strikers need to be found.
Why is Cox putting in Torres-esque performances? The day he gets within a few yards of a goal will be the day many herald as progress, as he continues to struggle. As his form continues to spiral, starting from about a year ago, so does the patience of many fans.
Constantly applauded for his tireless work, his unconvincing and predictable nature in front of goal has cast a shadow and it’s down to Billy Davies to solve the mystery. Last season he said the strikers were blameless, due to the lack of service. This season couldn’t be more different, as chances are being created all over the place.
The mid-table phrase of “At least we’re creating chances” needs to be chucked out of the window and replaced with an unforgiving glare for anyone who does miss an opportunity.
The term ’20 goal a season striker’ is overused to extremes in some quarters. What Forest need, is a man in front of goal with some confidence.
That man could come from within. Whoever he turns out to be, Billy Davies needs to ensure Nottingham Forest are one of the leading pack, and with that may come the air of authority and confidence.
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