Perhaps we were fortunate to draw with Leicester on Saturday, but whether our hard-earned point was down to luck rather than endeavour, there were noticeable differences in the way both teams approached the game.
We cannot deny we had the rub of the green with the penalty decision, but I calculate that we have had to wait 59 weeks since our last spot-kick. So any dissenters that can tarnish Forest with the ‘get out of jail’ retort, think again. One thing I’ve learned since the bleak times in League One, is that we are not a team that is in Lady Luck’s good books. She’s had us in the doghouse for as long as I can remember.
In another televised game this year, we were very much impeded by some questionable refereeing. Where was our so called luck when Dexter Blackstock saw red against Derby? Football seems to revolve around retribution, and the belief that everything evens itself out - a favourite cliché of many a manager.
Ignoring all the nonsense of ‘swings and roundabouts’, Saturday highlighted what seemed to be a gulf in class between us and Leicester. Their attacking prowess seemed to ooze all the confidence you’d expect to see from a team plotting an escape from the Championship, whereas we were frequently losing possession, and rushing into every pass, tackle, and attack we could muster.
However, such is the content of my blogs, the positives were definitely there: We defended like Spartans for the entirety of the second half. The build-up for our first goal was sumptuous. Lee Camp carried on in his rich vein of form, and Greg Halford - marking the menacing Anthony Knockaert (Or is it ‘Ker-Knock-out?’ Don Goodman’s commentary left a lot to be desired) - had one of his better games in a Forest shirt.
We certainly have the spirit, the fight and determination to claim a play-off place, but for large parts of the game, arguably 80 minutes of it, we were not competitive with Leicester. Granted, their place will be one of the toughest visits we will make this season, but we did not show the quality we know the squad possesses.
Forest looked more comfortable passing the ball between the back four, rather than attempting to keep possession further up the field. With all due respect, Brendan Moloney doesn’t have the same ball retention skills as the likes of Chris Cohen, and once Leicester had closed down our leisurely side-foot exhibition on the edge of our box, we had little options as to what to do next.
There seems to be a lack of composure, and that was strikingly highlighted by the opposition: Nugent’s deliciously well-judged lob, Lloyd Dyer’s fearless running at, and usually past, defenders, and our old mate Wes marshalled the Leicester defence well enough to limit us to just two chances (I can smugly say, two is all we need!)
We had little creativity to enjoy, which leaves a sinking feeling because with our one confident foray, Forest charged into the foxes box like the four rampaging horsemen of the Apocalypse. Sharp, Cohen, Cox, Guedioura. The build up was sublime, and Adlene managed to finish a move he had earlier started.
Forest never really summoned the courage to try something like that again, and with what I consider to be the best midfield in the league, it should not matter who we are playing, we should be confident enough to hold the ball higher up the field.
At times we were erratic, and a bit sketchy with decision making. We got the job done though, and if we can take a point off Leicester when we are not at our best, it will be an absolute pleasure to see us when we are back in form.
We are into the second third of the season now, and the first third has provided enough sparks of encouragement to stand us in good stead for another 30 games. With this league being so close, I think it’s too early to say where we will finish. Considering the rebuilding job we’ve had this year, I would like to remind everyone that mid-table would be perfectly credible.
November 2012 is infinitely better than November 2011. So began the goal drought. The horrible, endless drought. To think I can pick fault with a 2-2 draw at Leicester, a year after one of the bleakest winters Forest have had, it puts a lot of things into perspective.
12th place is looking like a Champions League spot now, isn’t it?