Nottingham Forest suffered their third defeat in a row on Saturday, and all three were fully deserved.
Under fire boss, Philippe Mountaineer will have to produce more than fancy cheese if he is to address the current slump by his team. From day one I have been outspoken regarding the French man’s philosophy regarding defensive duties. It seems that the “we’re gonna score one more than you” tactic has stopped working; whilst the endless flow of goals against, continues at an alarming rate.
Ironically, the back four and keeper he selected to face Sheffield Wednesday were unchanged for the first time this season. Similarly the 4-1-4-1 system had also been retained from the previous week’s game, but it wouldn’t be the same without at least one random change of personnel. George Grant somehow found himself in the starting line up ahead of David Vaughan, much to the amazement of the 2,200 strong travelling Forest supporters. We didn’t sell out our allocation for this game; at £36 a ticket I am not one bit surprised! Poignant, given the article I wrote in Friday’s Hucknall Dispatch about the commendable ticketing by Nottingham Forest.
The game itself provided its fair share of chances, the first worthy of note from Ross Wallace, who forced a good save from Stojkovic in the Forest goal. The Owls were alternating between a neat passing game and some route one football at times, the latter producing a great chance for Steven Fletcher who’s volley was brilliantly saved again by Stojkovic. Wednesday were in the ascendancy and came agonisingly close again after the half hour mark, Gary Hooper’s header was spilled by the Forest keeper but Mancienne was on hand to rescue the Serbian on this occasion.
Remarkably, it was the away side that took a surprise lead, against the run of play it has to be said. Mustapha Carayol did fantastically well on the right before playing in Henri Lansbury. The midfielder replicated Granit Xhaka’s goal for Arsenal last Tuesday; his carbon copy was deflected from all of thirty yards or more, giving Kieran Westwood no chance in the Wednesday goal. It stayed that way until half time; once again the topic of conversation around the crowded bars was all about a first clean sheet and its accompanying victory.
The second period began a little more balanced, with both sides creating good chances within ten minutes of the restart. Gary Hooper’s goal bound effort somehow nicked off Michael Mancienne for a corner, whilst Apostolos Vellios saw his excellent header saved by Westwood. Eric Lichaj had done brilliantly to create the chance for Vellios. Pajtim Kasami came on for Carayol and Montanier would make two more changes before the final whistle. Here lies the problem; in last week’s blog I berated the gaffer for “misguided substitutions” but it seems he’s not a reader of my work.
Inevitably, the Owls equalised with just over twenty minutes remaining, with the easiest of goals for Kieran Lee. He waltzed into area, unmarked and connected with Ross Wallace’s corner without even jumping. Almost identical to Jonny Howson’s goal for Norwich last week; which prompts the question, is Montanier enforcing zonal marking from set pieces?
Wednesday nearly went ahead soon after but Forest had the ever dependable Chris Cohen on hand to clear off the line. It’s great to see Cohen reinstated as the captain, he’s a shining example of how to conduct yourself as a skipper. As the game looked to be petering out, the away side had indeed used all three substitutes. The worrying thing for me is the raison d’etre behind the changes; Kasami is bang out of form and Dumitru gave away possession cheaply at a crucial period of the match. Once again, to the bemusement of everyone present, David Vaughan was overlooked. For some unknown reason this cracking footballer is not good enough for Montanier. Ideally, he should have been the holding midfielder, allowing Cohen to partner Lansbury instead of Grant.
As the substitutes struggled to get into the game, including Bendtner, there was time for some late drama and heart break for the reds. Ben Osborn had been clearly fouled outside the Wednesday box but the referee deemed it a dive. Sure enough, the home side launched one last long ball into the Forest box and took all three points as a result of it. Steven Fletcher linked with Forestieri before squaring the ball to Kieran Lee; the diminutive midfielder capped his 150th appearance by clipping the ball over Stojkovic from three yards out.
Unfortunately we are getting what we deserve but I fear for the manager if this culture continues, granted; a win and that elusive clean sheet against Fulham would be the ideal solution.