Forest 3 - 4 Blackpool (4 - 6 agg.)



We didn’t learn anything from the first leg and in typical Forest fashion fell apart in spectacular style. Having got ourselves level twice through MOTM Earnshaw, we contrived to conceded 3 quick goals as our challenge fell apart in the second half.

It was pretty obvious that McKenna and Cohen would struggle to last the 90 mins and it was too much to expect Majewski to deal with their midfield on his own. As with Saturday, the longer the game continued the greater the influence of the Blackpool midfield. It’s a sign of the recent progress made by Moussi that his absence affected us more than anything over the two legs.

Perch defensive failings were there for all to see on Saturday and bizarrely, we decided to make things even harder for him by exposing him at left back. As we’ve been preparing for the play-offs for weeks then surely it would have made sense to give him some games in this position beforehand. Yet again found out when it mattered with mistakes that cost us dearly.

Tyson’s recent performances have been poor and today was no exception. His preference to Anderson was another selection that didn’t make much sense. Yet again, Boyd wasn’t given the opportunity to put his obvious talents to any use and his loan spell ended up being a massive disappointment.

Other things went against us, with a couple of close offside calls, a crucial deflection for their second and Camp’s one error of the season for the opener. All that would detract from Blackpool’s all action performance that we had no answer to.

However, it’s been obvious for a while now that the likes of Tyson, Perch and Adebola just aren’t good enough to be part of a squad challenging in this league. McGugan and McGoldrick have also struggled to make any impression whilst Garner, McCleary and Lynch have generally been unable to get on the bench.

The chairman has indicated that up to three new faces were likely to arrive but realistically it should be up to double that to add both quality and depth to the squad. We were lucky with injuries until the closing stages and it would be unrealistic to expect the same next time around.

We also have to find a massive improvement on our travels. Four wins from 23 games is a pitiful return and one that has been masked by the incredible home form. Getting the most from the obvious talents of Earnshaw and Majewksi whilst retaining enough steel in midfield would be a start.

There's still plenty to be positive after a season that exceeded everyone's expectations. There are so many memorable moments to take away and with some minor improvements there’s no reason that we can’t enjoy a similar run next time around.



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Blackpool 2 - 1 Forest


A third defeat to Blackpool proved to be a familiar story for Forest on our travels this season. Having established ourselves in the first half, we lacked that clinical finish to take advantage of a number of decent chances that came our way. Blackpool improved after the break and we were slightly fortunate to only find ourselves a single goal down going into the second leg. The returns of McKenna and Cohen were a timely boost but the loss of Moussi through injury was to cost us through the second half.

After an even opening spell, it was Forest who took an early through an outstanding curling effort from Cohen. There looked to be nothing on but the keeper could only watch it fly into the top corner. Morgan almost doubled the lead, narrowly missing Cohen’s curling free kick before some slack defending gifted them an equaliser.

Their full back carried the ball across the penalty area before finding an unmarked player wide left to cross for another left all alone to score with a scuffed shot. Really poor defending when we needed to be at our best. Question marks over Anderson’s marking of the full back, Perch going missing at right back and no one marking in the centre.

Forest responded well and should have been back in front before half time. Anderson skipped down the left, crossed for Blackstock’s looping header off the bar and Tyson’s rebound over. Morgan was unlucky not to score with another effort cleared via the post.

Half-time came at the wrong time with Forest looking dangerous on the break, especially with Anderson down the left hand side. However, it was a different story in the second half as Blackpool took advantage of a weary Forest midfield to cause us numerous problems.

With Cohen and McKenna lacking fitness and Moussi out injured, we struggled to contain their movement from midfield. Finally their pressure counted with Perch committed a needless clumsy foul when there where others better placed to clear. Camp was sent the wrong way from Adam’s spot kick.

Perch was nowhere to be seen as Campbell was clean through but fortunately his effort cleared the bar. We had another escape when Wilson’s perfect tackle on the edge of the area was harshly judged to be a foul. The resulting kick from Adam could only hit the wall. Another bobbling shot towards the end crept just past the post with the Forest defence only watching on.

Cohen, yet again, continued to be the one most likely to equalise for us. One free kick from the edge of the area narrowly over whilst another long range injury effort needed a great low save from their keeper.

MOTM Wilson was one of the few to perform as expected for the full game. Cohen looked very good in patches but understandably tired in the closing stage. Anderson always seemed the most likely to create something in the first half but contributed little after the break.

Both Perch and Tyson continued their recent indifferent form and should find their places in doubt from Chambers and Earnshaw to provide greater attacking threat. McGoldrick and Earnshaw didn’t really make much impact as second half replacements after the workrate that Blackstock displayed. It looked a perfect chance for Garner to continue his recent form.

Despite finding ourselves behind, we’re still right in the contention for the tie overall. Back amongst familiar surroundings with a decent surface and a more favourable referee, there’s no reason why we can’t get the opening goal and take it from there.



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Scunthorpe 2 - 2 Forest


Another away game without victory but, even with a reserve side, there were plenty of positives to take from the first half in particular. With most of the first team regulars missing, there were chances for some of the squad members to confirm their places on the bench for the play-offs to come.

After a slow start we soon found some form and should have scored more than that two we managed. Boyd found Garner on the edge of the area, to beat one defender and then thread an effort into the bottom corner. Just before half-time, a well worked build up down the right saw us move the ball across the area for Boyd to fire across the keeper and into the far corner. A fantastic team effort and it was comparable to Cohen’s goal at West Brom.

McGoldrick and McGugan both had good chances to extend the lead but we had to settle for a two goal advantage at half-time.

The hosts were much improved after the break and started to put some pressure on the Forest goal. After Anderson’s early volleyed chance we struggled to create too many chances. Boyd messed up two corners whilst a couple of crosses didn’t bounce favourably for us.

At the other end, Smith made a couple of smart low saves but we failed to clear one scramble which they took advantage of to make a game of it.

It looked like we’d survived the best that Scunthorpe could manage until McCleary carelessly lost the ball in midfield right at the end. Their player carried the ball forward and found the top corner from outside the area, leaving Smith with no chance.

In terms of those with something to prove, MOTM Joe Garner was the one who made the most of his chance. Finally playing as a centre forward, he caused problems throughout and scored a well-taken and deserved goal. Should find himself on the bench, especially if we’re battling away from home.

Alongside him, McGoldrick continues to frustrate, sometimes combining well with those around him but never looking like scoring and often giving the ball away cheaply from promising positions. On current form, Garner looks like the best option as a reserve striker but McGoldrick should still be on the bench.

McCleary’s pace and skill would be a great asset to have in reserve but the late error cost us the game and we couldn’t afford to risk a repeat in the coming weeks. He’s unlikely to be involved in the away leg and a small chance of being on the bench for the home game.

Boyd showed a few moments of promise and was certainly improved on his performance at Doncaster. However, compared to Anderson, we should still expect more from him in terms of work-rate. Too often he’s happy to let others take his share of tracking back and backs out of challenges. Would be a useful option to have on the bench and this goal itself should see him in front of McCleary.

McGugan missed a very good chance with only the keeper to beat but barely featured in the rest of the game. Could have won the game right at the end with a free kick narrowly wide but this has to go down as another wasted opportunity in a red shirt. If everyone’s fit, he could be struggling to be involved if McKenna makes a return and Moussi’s recent form continues.

Lynch didn’t look 100% fit in the opening stages but improved as the game progressed and didn’t let anyone down. Away from home he’d bring more height to the defence and allow Gunter back to the right but still unlikely to be involved in the coming weeks. Gunter and Chambers still remain as the best full back pairing on current form, especially with the latter’s ability to score from set pieces.



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Forest 3 - 0 Plymouth


Plymouth proved to be the perfect opponents for our warm-up for the play-offs. They gave us plenty of space in midfield which Majewski, in particular, took full advantage of. After missing a couple of early one-on-ones through Earnshaw and Tyson we soon got back into the usual rhythm. Majewski’s excellent through ball found Earnshaw to score with ease and then Plymouth’s clearance from Moussi’s right wing cross hit Blackstock to double the lead.

The second half was a non-event with Forest easing their way through the game until adding a third in the closing stages. McGugan’s control let him down but it fell perfectly for Anderson to chip past the keeper.

With a better pitch, there were signs of a return to the free flowing passing of earlier in the season with Majewski and Moussi both having more influential games in midfield. MOTM Morgan continued his impressive run of games this season with a dominant display. In terms of the play-offs, only the performances of Perch and Tyson leave question marks over starting places for the home leg. Neither showed enough quality to suggest that their places are guaranteed.



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Forest 3 - 0 Ipswich Town


To find ourselves confirmed in the play-offs with 3 games to go is a fantastic achievement. We’ll enter them in plenty of confidence and should fear no other team. In the remaining games, we have the opportunity to rest a few players and give some of the squad players the chance to find some form whilst resting the likes of Gunter, Cohen and Blackstock who’ve contributed so much this season.

The first half was played with the feel of a pre-season friendly with Forest playing without their usual zip and Ipswich creating a few decent opportunities but lacking the belief that they would ever score.

Once we took a slightly fortunate lead early in the second half, we never looked back and ran out easy winners. Cohen’s free kick found Earnshaw on the edge of the area and his turn and shot found the net via Chambers hip.

Moussi had another decent afternoon for the first seventy minutes and scored a well deserved second goal. He started to feature at both ends of the pitch and it was noticeable that he had a real influence on the game. Things went downhill after he scored with a number of careless passes that always seem to let him down. He still did enough to suggest that we might be able to cope without McKenna in the important games ahead of us.

The scoring was rounded off by Earnshaw after a neat move down the left opened up their defence and we kept the ball alive via Tyson and Blackstock. Another well deserved goal for an afternoon full of endeavour.

There were signs of the old free flowing football as Majewski joined the action and started to link up the midfield and forwards. At the other end, Ipswich still created a number of (mostly wayward) efforts but never really looked like scoring.

As with most of our games this season, it was a real team effort with no one really standing out. MOTM Cohen was one of the few players to perform in both halves and continues to lead by example from midfield.

The back four has a much more solid feel to it with Gunter’s class translated to left back and Chambers obvious improvement with better players around him plus providing a real threat from set pieces. The performances of Wilson and Morgan this season speak for themselves.

The only slight disappointment of the afternoon was the performance of Tyson, who we persisted with down the right hand side for the majority of the game. Time and again he’d find himself in a decent position but got found out by a lack of a decent right foot. He looked much more settled down the left on the few occasions he was allowed to swap sides.




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