Circlesquare: 7 things we learned from this feisty encounter

30 Dec

Sunday 29th December 2013

Nottingham Forest         2.1          Leeds United

(Halford, Derbyshire)                           (McCormack)

  1. Stand up to the bully:    With the return of every Forest fan’s favourite pantomime villain in the shape of Michael Brown and the imposing and respected (at least by me) presence of Rodolph Austin, the personal battles in the engine room had to be won by Reid and Lansbury: and win them they did. Lansbury’s controlled aggression against Austin was a joy to watch and I sense it is rare to see Austin reduced to dropping deeper and deeper in order to find some time and space on the ball without Angela tearing into him and coming away with the ball. Reid simply ran the show in the first half and Brown’s withdrawal midway through the second half was particularly pleasing, signalling as it did Reidy’s dominance in this mini midfield seasoned professional encounter. The personal battles in the middle of the park won by our two lads played a huge part in swinging the game our way.
  2. This circle doesn’t fit its little square:    Greg Halford’s continued deployment up top again paid off handsomely. The last two home games also go to show how fine the line is between a defensive 4-5-1 formation and an attacking 4-3-3. Away from home recently, we have looked anaemic in an attacking sense with support to the top seemingly slow in its appearance with Mackie and Abdoun often withdrawn and used to crowd the midfield.  However, today and against QPR, Mackie and Abdoun seem to have been deployed higher up the pitch, seemingly confident in Reid and Lansbury to seize and maintain control of the middle of the park. Consequently, someone was always buzzing around Halford when he received the ball. His hold up play was impressive and although his finishing on the deck still looks a little awkward, no one can argue with a record of 2 goals in 2 games.  Perhaps improbably, this circle seems to fit snugly into the square.
  3. Reduction of away ticketing:      This season has seen a reduction in the amount of away tickets allocated at the City Ground, much to the angst of followers from Derby County and no doubt, from Leeds United too. Churlish? Maybe. But there can be little doubt that giving over the entire Lower Bridgeford to away fans in the past has inspired the away team. And why wouldn’t it? An away day at Forest previously meant, numbers permitting, a packed stand behind the goal benefiting from the excellent acoustics down there. But those days seem to be over with home fans now allocated half of the Lower Bridgeford. Of course, this is simply circumstantial evidence but it is common for away fans to be tucked away on the corner of a ground in the hope that they will be neither seen nor heard. As a seasoned away traveller, this is irksome but it is also part of the deal of travelling away, making those occasional away wins that little bit sweeter. The Valley and Hillsborough currently offer excellent away support in the shape of entire stands dedicated to away travel. Neither Wednesday or Charlton enjoy anything approximating good home form. Coincidence? Maybe, but we need every little bit of help we can in an effort to make the City Ground a more imposing place.
  4. The lesser spotted 20 goals a season striker:      Yes, that old chestnut. With the re-establishment of a miserly defence, excellently marshalled by Jack Hobbs and ably supported by the young Turks in the shape of Lascelles and Darlow, the need for a striker to finish off the numerous chances we create seems to have dropped down the agenda a little. Obviously, Halford’s mini run has played a part in this but surely no one can see this current deployment as a long term solution. A wider question is whether a team requires such a striker when steady supplies of goals are provided by the midfield. Hearing Billy Davies’ post match comments (a novelty for me), clearly he aims to do some business in January and with the defence currently operating at a high level and excellent support to come from the currently injured Wilson and Collins and in addition, our midfield the envy of most clubs at this level (Chalobah on the bench and Vaughan injured), surely Billy is eyeing up some more firepower having let Tudgay and Miller out on loan in the hope that they will find pastures new. A left back to replace the injured Cohen? Perhaps, but Lichaj looks as good as any right footer in that position. But as we all know, Billy doesn’t seem to like poachers like Billy Sharp, preferring instead someone to work the channels and hold the ball up for attack minded midfielders. Jordan Rhodes? Can’t see it personally – a great poacher but I can’t see Davies adopting totally different tactics in order to get the best out of him, and obviously there is the small matter of agreeing a sum with Blackburn Rovers. Perhaps he sees securing deals with Reid, Vaughan and maybe Chalobah as priorities. One thing’s for sure though, expect a whole bunch of Championship clubs to be lining up to give Premier League benchwarmers an opportunity to show their mettle.
  5. A time for fringe players to make a mark:            With games thick and fast over the Christmas period, fringe players find themselves being given 30 minutes here and there to make an impression. Matt Derbyshire made more than an impression; he made a giant Matt Derbyshire sized hole in Billy Davies’ office door. He clearly knows where the goal is but often looks too lightweight and is easily muscled off the ball. However, there is a train of thought that he just needs a run in the team and a bit of confidence and he’ll fulfil his potential. No better time than now, Matt. Also, Chalobah is finally (and quietly) starting to look like the player we all thought he was after a frankly disastrous start to his loan period here.
  6. Runners and riders:        The Championship table always looks congested and tight, seemingly more so than ever. This victory gives us some breathing space though, placing us 4 points clear of 6th place and also a mathematically pleasing 4 points from 4th place. No doubt this will be temporary though and runners and riders will surely change frequently as the season plays out. As we all know, one club will suffer a debilitating lack of form and confidence and fall away while another will enjoy a meteoric rise from mid table to play-offs and even beyond. The rest? They will probably look something like they do now. Us? Billy Davies almost guarantees you a play-off place: on target.
  7. A team is never more vulnerable as when…..    You know the rest. It’s a cliché because it’s true.
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2 Responses to “Circlesquare: 7 things we learned from this feisty encounter”

  1. Phil Lengthorn December 30, 2013 at 2:19 pm #

    Reduction in away ticket allowance at The Valley? I’ll suggest it to our soon to be new Belgian owner. Although he has probably already sold The Valley and got us ground sharing with Celtic!

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Five things we like this month — December | Seat Pitch - January 3, 2014

    […] Circlesquare: 7 things we learned from this feisty encounter – Forest Lookout “Greg Halford’s continued deployment up top again paid off […]

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