Match report v Forest

----- Woody Subsumed By Forest -----

After Tuesday’s reportedly exciting showing against Burnley I was filled with anticipation for the match today. In his attempt to come up the outside and flank the other contenders for the job Woodgate gave an AFCB league debut to Pearson alongside Lerma with Wilshere in front of them with L Cook the man to miss out. Up front Long was given the nod ahead of Surridge with Solanke set for an extended period on the sidelines.

Meanwhile Forest are starting to resemble a rescue home for former AFCB strikers with three now on their books, Glen Murray the man to start ahead of Grabban and Taylor.

The game was only a few minutes old when S Cook pulled up with an injury and had to be replaced in the heart of the defence by Kelly, making for a partnership with CCV which could be one we see a lot more next season.

On ten minutes Junior played a short corner, received the ball back and tried to curl it in to the far post, flying a smidgeon too far.

Then in the 27th minute Kelly hit an excellent long diagonal ball to Smith on the right wing who fire in a sharp early cross. Long threw himself at it but it was ever so slightly out of his reach. A good moment.

Beyond that, the half was so sterile you could bottle it and use it to help fight the pandemic.

To be honest, Woodgate had called it badly wrong in midfield. Everybody knows how Hughton sets up his teams, you could have watched a match he managed eight years ago to work out what he’d do and create a tactic to try and counter it. His team will create a really solid defensive shape, two lines across the park they’re so rigidly solid it’s like they’ve been drawn with a set square. Then try and pick up something on the break or from set pieces.

What we needed was someone to zig zag through those lines and cause them to crumble. Leave the Forest players unsure where one of our men will be at all times and introduce elements of doubt to their shape.

Instead we had two defensive midfielders who sat and recycled the ball with short and slow passes along with the defenders, occasionally looking up hopefully only to see the four men in front of them mostly static with eight Forest players locked into position and filling up the space.

In recent weeks L Cook has gone off the boil but even then his form has been a touch above that of Lerma. If you were going to bring in Pearson it had to be at the expense of Jeff. I’m not saying Cook would have magically returned to his form of earlier in the season but he’d at least occasionally try to take it past a player and open up some space in the pitch.

I can’t call this a Hughton tactical masterclass as it was a result fed to him on a silver platter. I doubt he will ever have an easier clean sheet.

If we want to scratch around then there were a couple of times Smith got forward but it was a scrappy, dull, eventless poor first half.

I wasn’t expecting a triple change but I thought the break would see Woodgate do something to try and throw his hat into the ring for the job. Show some kind of tactical flexibility and ability to recognise he’d got it wrong. Nothing.

Most of the second half played out in much the same manner. Apart from a determination to give away lots of silly free kicks in areas where Forest could play it into the danger zone not a lot happened.

Brooks came on for the anonymous Wilshere and we had two minutes of purposeful play where we showed what we can do when we put a team like this under pressure before drifting back into playing like they’re shambling suffering side effects from high strength pain killers.

Murray nearly snatched a Forest goal from a corner, his flicked header going in at the near post only to be cleared off the line by Pearson.

Finally, on the 85th minute, the Cherries sparked into life. Presumably we remembered it would be stopped after 90 and wasn’t a battle of attrition to keep going until someone collapsed from boredom.

In this short period we probed and looked like, if we played like that for a whole match, we’d probably break them down. It’s a shame we didn’t try it from the start. As it was one Junior shot deflected over was about all we got for our troubles.

0-0 and 90 minutes we should load up to YouTube where we might make a fortune with millions of hits offering it as a perfect cure for insomnia.

----- Conclusions ----

- This isn’t Woodgate’s problem in that we’ve struggled to break down teams that sit in against us all season and JT never found an answer. However, it was a very poor attempt at doing so and JW has to be held partly responsible for that.

If this is being seen as a trial period then a lucky win last weekend followed by, I’m told, a good performance and great result against a second string Burnley team with this showing on the back of it then I don’t think it’s nearly enough. Today was so telling, the lack of change in approach after the break. Harsh to judge him on such a short period but, for me, this was his interview and he just fluffed the presentation.

- I know they were up against two walls of men moving around like they were connected on a table football rod but the front four should have done something to try and change it rather than wandering around and wondering why the ball was never reaching them.

- Let’s hope the injury to S Cook is nothing serious. We could really do without it at the moment.

- A shame Kelly lost his place. I understand why but we’re back to square one with the LB position again.

----- Player Ratings -----

Begovic – 6
Nearly spilled one but did his job. Nothing really to save so that’s that.

A Smith – 6
Did get forward a few times and when we looked dangerous it was often with him involved.

Carter-Vickers – 6 and Man of the Match
I can’t find a single seven out there today but CCV looked pretty assured at the back, admittedly against a team that weren’t committing much forward. However, I’ll give it him based on that.

S Cook (off on 5) – n/s
Went off too early.

Rico - 5
When he did get forward he was poor and defensively always looked suspect against Knockaert.

Wilshere (off on 66) – 5
Pretty anonymous. As a senior pro should have done something to try and shake things up.

Pearson (off on 81) – 6
Well, he did what you’d expect. Not a lot more.

Lerma – 6
See Pearson.

Stanislas – 5
Unlucky from short corner but apart from that not really in the game.

Long (off on 81) – 6
Worked hard but that’s about it.

Danjuma – 5
I heard his name so he was on the pitch but I can’t recall anything of note that he did.

--- Sub ---
Kelly (on from 5) – 6

Brooks (on from 66) – 6
Looked like he might bring about change but after a brief flurry it wasn’t to be.

Billing (on from 81) and Surridge (on from 81) – 6
We looked marginally better but didn’t really have time to influence the game.

Overall Grade: D
It’s a point when we need three and, unfortunately, we never really threatened taking them all.

Woodgate’s tactics and on field changes looked one dimensional or way too late. He let Hughton completely run the game the way he wanted it to go.

It might be harsh to downgrade the forwards marks when the tactics weren’t their fault but sometimes you need them to step up and show their quality. None of them did.

What did we learn from this? The new manager is needed soon and it shouldn’t be JW.
Good report but imo your ratings are either too harsh or too generous. CCV for example didn’t really put a foot wrong, surely at least a 7? Danjuma as you say did absolutely nothing, a 5 is very generous.
The problem with the marks is very much down to the tactics.

Forest offered little to nothing going forward hence why CCV was a 6 despite doing nothing wrong. There was little for him to do.

At the other end the forward players showed little but were being fed little. Hence Danjuma getting a 5 despite doing almost nothing all match.

I'd give the tactics a 1/10 which makes if unfair to be overly generous or harsh on players whose performances were undoubtedly impacted by them.
Good report Kirsikkers....

Yes I know we’ve got to rest players...involve the squad etc etc.
But why did we change a team who had played brilliantly against Premier League Burnley?
And why did we also drop our Man of the Match and goal scorer from that game?
I don’t quite get that...
In days gone by you never change a winning team unless you are forced to through injury. Felt the starting line-up should have been the side used against Burnley. Billing and Surridge definitely should have started and will both be miffed. Should both start on Saturday surely. Twice as many points given away as taken - no shots on target of any merit - onwards and upwards ........
Injury to cook seemed to make the team more cautious.
Defence solid midfield steady front three offered nothing.

Not enough movement passing too slow and sideways or backwards.

Ccv very good
Lerma good second half
The match winners didn't show up.
In days gone by you never change a winning team unless you are forced to through injury. Felt the starting line-up should have been the side used against Burnley. Billing and Surridge definitely should have started and will both be miffed. Should both start on Saturday surely. Twice as many points given away as taken - no shots on target of any merit - onwards and upwards ........
Agree - we need consistency. All this c**p about resting players. We should never have made so many changes to the starting line up today. Especially leaving out Surridge and Billing who performed so well against Burnley. Bad management, bad performance. Demin & Co need to pull their fingers out and decide who they want to grab the reins and sort this squad out.
If a (supposedly) highly trained athlete can't play 2 games in a week then a lot of the local league players must be supermen. I used to play Saturday and Sunday well into my 30's and never needed a rest. I know it's all lower key stuff but the state of the pitches and some of the kickings I used to get would have many current 'superstars' rolling around and yelling in 'pain'. Toughen up for goodness sake!
Was not the highlight of my day in terms of entertainment that’s for sure!! Needed something to change earlier in the game.

Billing looked good when he came on and Surridge too but a bit too late.

Soooo slow moving the ball around and both Lerma and Pearson too negative in their play.
Kelly obviously lacking the confidence to do anything other than pass backwards. Pearson was far too deep. Why start with Long, he should have been off on 60.

Personally I would have started with the the core of Tuesdays team, Billing as a No 10 was a revelation, Surridge up front - no messing. It worked why change it ? Hughton has basically created an effective Forest defensive block, we should have known this and thrown everything including the kitchen sink at them to undo it. The last I saw we wanted promotion didn't we ?... something got lost in translation somewhere. No one really bust a gut, it was all comfort zone stuff, really disappointing.
Thanks for another good report. It was a cr#p game, actually it would have been more interesting if it had been a cr#p game, and I was left puzzled by several things. I'm sure I read a headline somewhere about Woodgate saying he hadn't realised Billing had so much talent so I was very surprised not to see him start and even more surprised that he didn't get on until the 80th minute. Also, wasn't Wilshere played in a position he explicitly said in an interview he wasn't right for these days and felt he should be playing deeper? And what is the point of playing Long as a lone striker, isn't he supposed to be there to add some character and help the younger players, ie Surridge?
I’m wondering where it’s all gone so wrong. Last time we were in the championship, I remember being 2-0 down to Birmingham at half time and not being the slightest bit worried as I knew we’d score at least 3 in the second half. Now, we’re drawing 0-0 with Forest and I’m hoping and praying that they don’t score a late winner.