February 3, 2013 by Made In Brum
Blues 2 Nottingham Forest 1.
After last weekends win at Burnley, Lee Clark stressed the importance of back-to-back wins for the first time this season. A game against Forest presented the perfect opportunity for that, and Blues responded with arguably their most complete home performance of the campaign.
It wasn’t always pretty, at times they had to dig deep, but with excellent performances throughout the team, especially Jack Butland, Chris Burke and Wade Elliott, Blues always looked a good bet for the points. Alex McLeish’s Forest side knocked the ball around well in spells, but their final ball left a lot to be desired.
With the transfer window closing last Thursday, I didn’t anticipate writing a match report for this game which included Burke, Butland, Marlon King, Curtis Davies and Nathan Redmond. We came out of it relatively unscathed and with one addition, Wes Thomas. The striker, on loan from Bournemouth played fairly well, but lacks a bit of composure. He is quick, strong and hard-working. He showed evidence of this early on as he chased down a back pass, forcing Forest ‘keeper Karl Darlow into an error.
The first half was all about getting stuck in as chances were at a premium. For all the possession Clark’s side had in the opening 15 minutes, no real efforts were created. That was until Davies headed Rob Hall’s free kick goalwards, Darlow parried away from danger.
Burke, who was the subject of two Forest bids during the window, was a real threat. His neat pass sent King on his way, with just the ‘keeper to beat, the 14 goal striker dragged his shot wide. The visitors first real chance came on 26 minutes. Billy Sharp’s glancing header went narrowly wide.
The McLeish songs ringing out from the St. Andrews crowd did their bit to help the atmosphere, something we haven’t seen for most of the season. But the Blues players were playing almost as if a weight had been lifted, like the uncertainty surrounding the whole club, their futures, had gone.
A minute before the break, Butland pulled off a fantastic reaction save to deny Greg Halford before Blues counter attacked and took the lead. Chris Burke let rip an almighty left footed rocket which looped over Darlow and bounced in off the bar. That’s why you wanted him Alex!
The early staged of the second half was all Blues. Wes Thomas’ header found King in space on the right hand side, but he again fired wide. Callum Reilly was introduced for Morgaro Gomis, Rob Hall was hobbling around and was soon replaced by Redmond.
Five minutes later, Thomas stole the ball from Danny Collins just over the half way line and burst through on goal. With just Darlow to beat, he smashed his effort high and wide. How big a miss would that be?
Shortly after, Butland came to the rescue twice. First he saved Chris Cohen’s shot and then he was equal to Henri Lansbury’s near post effort. What big saves they proved to be! Lee Clark threw Nikola Zigic on in place of Thomas. The big Serb was holding play up well, something that contributed to Blues holding on. He calmed play down as the clock wore on.
You sensed Blues needed a second, killer goal, as they find clean sheets hard to come by. Forest were still a threat. But when Redmond picked up the ball and ran past two defenders, his pull back was slammed in by Burke. ‘Burke, Burke will tear you apart again’. ‘Alex, what’s the score’. ‘You’re getting sacked in the morning’. St. Andrews was in full voice, before a rousing rendition of ‘Keep Right On’. It all looks a lot brighter now doesn’t it?! One last pop at Big Eck from the faithful, ‘let’s all wave at Judas’ and ‘451 my lord’.
In stoppage time, you realised how vital Burke’s second goal was, as Davies conceded a penalty after a push on Sharp. He despatched the spot kick, but failure to keep a clean sheet again was the one negative. But let’s not nitpick. Blues have finally won back to back games. Can they climb the table? Or is this a false dawn? Opportunity presents itself to do the former with Charlton away on Saturday followed by Watford and Sheffield Wednesday at home coming up. Six points from nine? Maybe! Let’s hope we don’t get shot down again! Its happened all too often this term.
McLeish, when asked about the Blues fans taunts came back with an absolutely class reply. “There were some who had a go at the ginger hair, we ginger’s will rule the world one day”. He’s not that bad is he?
Blues ratings- Butland 8. Caddis 7. Caldwell 7. Davies 7. Robinson 7. *BURKE 8. Elliott 8. Gomis 6. Hall 6. Thomas 7. King 6… SUBS USED- Reilly 7. Redmond 7. Zigic 6.
Match report by Rob Wildey.