Forest got back to winning ways against Burnley at the City Ground tonight, in a drab affair that for long periods looked like it might go nowhere. Coupled with a defeat for Leeds and suddenly Forest are back in the playoff picture.
Forest made a number of changes to the starting line up. Brendan Moloney making a rare appearance in the place of Gunter, who was apparently feeling tired after Saturday. I get quit annoyed when professional sports people claim to be too tired to do what they are paid to do. McKenna returned to the team too in the place of Majewski. Tudgay returned in place of Boyd
The first half turned out to be one of the most largely forgettable halves of football you will ever see, save for the red card that shown to Bartley around the half hour mark. The challenge bore a few hallmarks of the Cohen incident, and its ironic something should come up so soon. Bartley and Chambers went for the same ball, but Bartley seemed to be lunging in. Chambers went down writhing and McKenna was straight in at Bartley accusingly. Like the Leeds game there will be comments suggesting the reactions of players and the like got the man sent off rather than the refs decision. It is hard to say though the ref did blow up immediately.
The red card did give Forest an advantage though, one they took a long time to take. The Reds pretty much had one good effort on target in the first half. McGugan twisted andturned on the edge, firing low, but Brian Jensen saved somewhat easily. Previous efforts had been very tame or just plain straight awful, Earnshaw with an audacious but abysmal effort from range springs to mind. Burnley similarly had few chances in an even first half. Camp saving well with his feet from one in particular
The second half,a little delayed by Burnley being a little tardy for the second half and the match opened up a little. McCleary was running at the opposition more and getting a little more joy getting in behind the defence. McGugan was looking brighter. However, Tudgay had put in a rather lacklustre performance, seemingly uninterested. A number of efforts were made that were easily picked off by Jensen, Earnshaw and McCleary specifically.
The best effort had come from McGugan free kick. His powerful goal bound effort saved one handedly by Jensen, his save wasn't as good as it first looked as he merely palmed it back out into the vicinity of an unmarked Earnshaw, who headed onto the bar from close in. He really should have done better.
Around 70 minutes in and Forest make the vital change. Majewski and McGoldrick came on for Moussi and Tudgay. The change that did just that, changed the game. No more than 2 minutes after his arrival McGoldrick was celebrating in front of the Trent End. McGugan powered in a free kick from the edge of the area, out wide on the left wing. McGoldrick who tucked it in to put the Reds ahead. They were good money for their lead having most of the second half.
Burnley themselves right after had a chance to take the lead, a cross sent over to Iwelumo who had come for Burnley. He headed from a central position but Camp made the save. It only added to the stress in the City Ground. The fans did not feel comfortable. A palpable sense of apprehension emanating from the support.
Forest sealed the win when McGoldrick got his second of the game. An attack down the right, and Earnshaw, surprisingly didn't shoot but squared to McGoldrick, who netted the goal that seized the game. He did actually scuff the shot somewhat, but that probably helped it beat Jensen. Being the 92nd minute this put the game beyond any doubt.
And so a win again for Forest, and right on time. Had we failed here the playoff dream would most certainly be over. As it is we remain just1 point behind Leeds, who are similarly slipping. Any result against Norwich and things are looking good. This may well be the spur to Forest succeeding.
It was mentioned that Forest may have a number of players who have been out returning to the team. I say returning, in the case of Findley it's an introduction. It might be just the catalyst we need.
Look out for the podcast recorded after the game tomorrow.