Very much like Forest’s performance last night, it’s taken me a while to get going with my thoughts on the game against Charlton. I’d compare it to a trip to the dentist. An all-round uncomfortable experience, with a bit of relief to get out of there in one piece. Whilst the optimists will point to the draw and the pessimists will root out the usual scapegoats, I’m just going to stick to the fact that Forest were bloody awful for the majority of last night. The Charlton fans could be heard singing ‘you’re flippin rubbish’ (or words to that effect) on TV after 53 minutes. They were absolutely bang on with their assessment. I received a few messages from friends and family during the game saying something very similar. Even our own manager agreed. Apologising before coming out with an expletive on Radio Nottingham told me that this was no slip of the tongue. For those that haven’t heard it, Sabri Lamouchi summarised our 1st half performance as ‘sh*t’ (spoken in a cool as – French accent). Not your average post match offering from a football manager but I have to admit, it was great to hear. Blunt honesty. I’d love to have been a fly on the wall in the Forest changing room at half time. I like the way Sabri Lamouchi talks and carries himself already. Snappy dresser too; his outfit deserved much more last night. He’s no Gary Rowett.
Onto the game then. By the time I’d put the plates into the sink and returned to the front room to settle down and watch, Aro Muric had already made a goal bound save. Within 7 minutes he’d made two and Forest were all over the place. Too be fair, Charlton were out of the traps very quickly. Their first half performance was the toughest we’ve faced so far. Not a surprise considering their start to the new season. We couldn’t get near the ball let alone do anything with it.
Forest simply got battered in the first half. In almost every single department and attribute to win a game, we were second best. Charlton were simply better and wanted it more than us. Whilst Forest’s midfield were too strong for Birmingham on Saturday, it was our Achilles heel last night. With Samba Sow rested and John Bostock deemed not quite ready, our midfield were not only chasing shadows but they could barely find a team mate in a blue shirt. I won’t just keep the criticism to the midfield trio because essentially it was a 5. Matty Cash showed his limitations as a right winger and Sammi Ameobi had an off night by the standards he’s already set for himself.
Unfortunately, I’ll have to keep talking about ball retention in my after match thoughts. Last nights efforts were the worst it’s been this season. We are so bad at it. It’s nothing new. Whether I’m ultra-critical because I’m a Forest supporter I don’t know, but I can’t think of many other teams in The Championship that give the ball away as much as we do. I don’t see opposing teams doing it at The City Ground. It’s a key feature of our play and we’re very consistent with it. We were unbelievably poor in looking after the ball last night. Charlton should have been out of sight by half time.
Somebody needs to give Alfa Semedo a nudge to finish his man of the match Champagne from the Leeds game. He wasn’t great on Saturday against Birmingham and I thought he had another poor game last night. The Championship waits for no man Alfa, it’s time to drink up and put that cigar down. Sauntering around in midfield, he was far too easy to play against and made life difficult for Ben Watson and Tiago Silva as his midfield partners. Whilst Charlton made 22 passes which led to their inevitable goal, nobody followed up Ben Watson’s press in midfield and with ease; Charlton moved the play out onto the right hand side for the decisive cross and finish for the impressive Lyle Taylor.
Ben Watson was off the pace last night and back to back games was a problem for him last year. He wasn’t our worse player by any stretch, in fact he was one of the few trying to compete for the first 45 but potentially he was one who might have benefitted from time out against Charlton. I think we’re all aware of his limitations but Ben has done a job for his manager so far. At his age, he’s one that we’ll need to be careful with. For certain courses in The Championship, he’ll be an asset. Ben Watson is not our enemy.
Tiago Silva wasn’t much better than Watson and was probably the biggest culprit for giving the ball away. However, he showed some really positive things alongside the bad. He was a 50/50 performer. I’ve got faith that he’ll be an asset when he’s fully adapted to English football. Technically he’s very good. I actually think he could be used as our holding midfielder but he might need to wait for that opportunity.
Inexplicably, Forest could have been level at half time. Lewis Grabban had fallen into a slumber given his lack of service and took two touches to get the ball out of his feet when Matty Cash’s deflected shot put him through on goal. In fairness the defender recovered but an alert Lewis would’ve been all over that opportunity. About 10 minutes earlier, I’d suggested to Lewis from the sofa that he might be better off running about a bit just to keep himself active. Again my criticism of Lewis is not affecting the game when he’s out of it. I just think he’d be better off chasing down or winding centre halves up, even at the very least; to keep his brain on alert. It would’ve been a travesty mind if it that chance had gone in.
The 2nd half was marginally better but poor final balls and stray passes was still a key feature. Matty Cash bless him, did exactly what Lewis Grabban should’ve been doing in trying to influence the game when out of it. One moment saw Matty chasing down the goalkeeper for no real reason, forcing him into an error which was excellent. In continuing to chase and press the Charlton full back, he caused another mistake and found himself in a great position to put Lewis through on goal with a simple pass. For whatever reason, the pass never came. That passage of play summed up Matty in a nutshell for me when playing as a winger. Full of endeavour but seriously lacking in quality for what a promotion chasing team requires. That may sound harsh but if you refer to my previous thoughts on games this season, I’ve been full of praise for Matty.
Sammi Ameobi did his usual trick of riling the opposition with a poor challenge on Charlton’s full back that was born out of his own frustration. It was a bad one from Sammi and the way his night was panning out, I thought he might have seen a red card for it. Lyle Taylor instigated handbags at dawn between the two teams in trying to get a favourable reaction from the referee but inadvertently, that moment played right into Forest’s hands. Similar to Leeds, the increase in adrenalin helped Forest out. For the last 20 minutes we looked a lot better. It’s pleasing that we are responding but it shouldn’t take a scrap to get us playing in a more threatening manner.
John Bostock played a decisive role when he came on. He was the glue in midfield and started to make 10 yard passes more manageable for his team mates to work with. Bostock connected the play and whilst it wasn’t amazing, he has the composure that our team sadly lacks. He’s comfortable on the ball and that is infectious. Joao Carvalho has a similar impact on his team mates. You can’t have enough of those in the team.
Ameobi should have won us a penalty moments later but the ref missed it. How he missed it I don’t know; it happened in full view of his position, ten yards away. Here we go again for the seasons dodgy decisions that go against us. I’m keeping a tally. We had one go for us at Leeds (Robbo’s challenge that should’ve been penalty) and so with last nights one against, that’s 1-1 for the season so far. Watch this space.
Forest huffed and puffed for long enough that we got ourselves an equalizer. Corners are a real weapon at the moment. I can’t recall saying that very often in the entire time that I’ve supported Forest! I’m not complaining. Adomah took his goal really well. From that point on, similar again to Leeds, I thought we were in control of the remaining minutes.
A special mention to Joe Worrall; he was outstanding alongside Michael Dawson at the back. Those pair kept us in the game at times. Joe looks a more mature figure and so far, he’s not playing any of the riskier passes that usually resulted in errors. Perhaps his gifting of a goal to Alfreton in our opening pre-season game is still keeping him awake at night. You can almost see the cogs turning when he’s receiving the ball at the back. He’s keeping it simple and concentrating on his defending. He’s looking very good and fully justifying the faith that Sabri Lamouchi is showing in him. It’s really positive, one of the few from last night.
Not the best, however resilient again to snatch a point away from home; not a bad trait to have. Thank you to the away fans – midweek all the way to London, top class as always. Thank you. #NFFC 🌲❤️ P.S #UncleAlbert
— Joe Worrall (@JoeWorrall5) August 21, 2019
Simply, we have to be better. It could be a cricket score at Fulham if we dare to start in the same fashion. They have the proven quality along their front line and in midfield to really hurt us. Feeling our way into games shows a complete lack of ambition for me; if we’re to be considered serious promotion contenders. Don Goodman gets loads of stick for being biased towards Forest but objectively, I couldn’t really argue with his criticism last night.
I laughed at a Birmingham fans prediction on Saturday that Forest were his relegation candidates for the season. For 60 minutes, I couldn’t offer an alternative argument. The warning signs are there for this Forest team if they want to perform like that. The 2nd get out of jail card has been played in successive away games. Luck can only last for so long…
TEAM PERFORMANCE: 4 – Dreadful 1st half performance. 2nd half comeback brought the score up significantly.
MURIC: 6 – The rookie is still very much learning. No real issues last night and made couple of vital saves that helped earn a point.
JENKINSON: 6 – Looked ok on the ball. Not sure he’s done enough to oust Matty Cash. Silly foul in dying moments caused unnecessary pressure.
ROBINSON: 6 – Not his best game in a Forest shirt. Once again got better once the game became heated and he finished stronger.
WORRALL: 8 – Man of the Match. Composed display at the back.
DAWSON: 8 – Commanding in the air. Forging a good partnership with Worrall.
SEMEDO: 4 – Well below par for early standards set.
SILVA: 5 – Some good, more bad.
WATSON: 5 – Struggled with the pace of Charlton and was hanging onto their coat tails at times.
CASH: 5 – Ineffective. Hope the stint as winger doesn’t knock his confidence after great start to the season.
AMEOBI: 5 – Not Sammi’s night. The catalyst to our comeback with a frustrated poor 2nd half challenge.
GRABBAN: 5 – Starved of any service. Looked livelier as the game went on.
BOSTOCK: 6 – Encouraging cameo performance.
ADOMAH: 6 – At the heart of improved play also. Took his goal really well.
MIR: 5 – Offered more of a presence but didn’t really offer a direct threat.