Magnificent. What I witnessed on Saturday teatime was quite emotional as we battered Marco Bielsa’s Leeds United into submission. From the players, manager and fans in the stands; the effort from all concerned brought it’s just rewards. This was the very best of Nottingham Forest. Pulling in one direction, I’ve not felt that connection to the players since a teenage Ben Brereton bagged a winner against Aston Villa during the Fawaz Out protests.
Almost 3 years to that day, Forest are now a very different animal. We’ve come a long way since that night and we’re not finished yet. We’ve been through some crap as a fan base but we have a club that we can truly be proud of; both on and off the pitch. The pre match displays have grown into a thing of inspiration and beauty. A talented group of players are now scrapping it out for an automatic place in the league and we have a manager that seemingly loves life at the club. We are very much headed on the right road. Whilst that pivotal win against Aston Villa all those years ago gave me hope that we could salvage our club; last nights win against Leeds United has instilled belief that Sabri and his boys are on the verge of doing something very special. To a man last night, the effort was absolutely top drawer. The fans didn’t stop singing. They roared the team on throughout and the galvanising ‘Come on you Reds’ chant had the hairs standing up on the back of my neck. Magical. My throat is paying full price for it today. I could feel the veins bulging in my neck as I gave the chant 100% welly. I certainly wasn’t alone. What a noise inside the world famous.
The emotions of the game certainly caught a hold of me. As I celebrated with my long suffering Forest compadre, I felt all of those darker times flash before my eyes and we embraced like long lost brothers as we grabbed the all important second goal. All around me, grown men, strangers, were doing the same thing. This was massive.
I came away from the ground daring to dream about promotion. The buzz was huge. This feels like a special time in our recent history. It wasn’t so much the quality of football played against Leeds; it was the monumental effort showed. Lewis Grabban lost the ball at one point in the second half but sprinted after his opposing numbers to win the ball back. The determination won gladiatorial approval from the stands. Adama Diakhaby, who hasn’t been with us for very long at all must have been attending Sabri’s breakfast clubs and after school revision sessions to understand what is required from this squad. His substitute appearance epitomised exactly what Sabri wants from his players. Faced in unfamiliar territory in right back positions on a couple of occasions, he showed great willing and determination not to let his team mates down. The way Joe Lolley and Tyler Walker chased down poor Jack Harrison on at the death was akin to watching hounds after a fox. It was brutal. If you were going to war, you’d want all of these lads in the trenches with you. The emotions were huge in the stand. I held onto my mates arm as Joe broke away and th the crowd drew its breath to what was coming next. When Tyler swept the ball home from Joe’s unselfish pass, the scenes were absolute. Grown men, strangers embraced like e long last brothers; wary soldiers were lifted from the debris of the mass celebrations. It was carnage in Lower Bridgford Y1.
— Lee G Forest TV (@ForestDvds) February 8, 2020
Forest took the battle to Championship rivals Leeds and we were more than worthy winners. The way the players and staff celebrated at the death showed how much it means to them. They are performing as a collective and this is what makes this group so special. There isn’t a standout individual in this side. We are a dogged bunch that has a sprinkling of magic when it’s needed most. We’ve been waiting for things to fully click but between them, Joe Lolley and Sammi Ameobi brought their wands and looked a constant threat all night and both more than played their part in the win. We will push every step of the way with the pair in this form. The back 5 players looked every inch Premier League players and with the drive of our midfield and Lewis’ goals, its looking very good indeed. We simply have to keep going.
😍This team 🤝this crowd.
— Nottingham Forest FC (@NFFC) February 8, 2020
As I got home after a cracking day out (albeit a little wary), I sat down and watched the match highlights. What a feeling. I could have easily gone to sleep being serenaded by Lou Reed’s ‘Perfect Day’. It feels like Forest are very much going to reap just what they’ve sown this season. The City is behind you boys.
TEAM PERFORMANCE – 9 – The best of the season at home. We are getting better and are showing a clinical edge to our game. This feels like a pivotal game in the season as we chase promotion.
SAMBA – 8 – Didn’t have too much to do in terms of saves. Whilst he almost made a mess of Cooper’s header, he reacted superbly to punch the ball away and prevent an equalizer. Some excellent handling settled the nerves. Just what was needed.
CASH- 8 – Superb display. He is looking a hell of a full back.
RIBEIRO – 8 – His best game in a Forest shirt. Accomplished.
WORRALL – 8 – Led from the back. A huge performance from Joe.
FIGUIERIDO – 8 – Massive game. He is looking superb at the heart of our defence. A colossus.
SOW – 8 – Sets the tone with his aggression. Awesome.
WATSON – 8 – Not his best game with the ball but put in a huge effort.
SILVA – 8 – Now looking a goal scoring threat. He was excellent in midfield.
LOLLEY – 9 – MAN OF THE MATCH. His best performance of the season. His burst of energy at the end to dispossess Harrison was simply magnificent.
AMEOBI – 8 – Strong running on the ball and a cracking goal.
GRABBAN – 8 – Not quite his night but put a big shift in.
DIAKHABY – 8 – Was a threat on the ball and defended with great responsibility. Great stuff.
WALKER – 7 – Got himself a goal and will do his confidence no harm at all. Stunning watching him and Lolley go after the ball at the end.
YATES – 7 – Great contribution from Ryan to keep the tempo up.