|A point on the opening day, in temperatures over 30 degrees and playing with a makeshift defence, is not a bad result in anybody’s book.
Forest’s defensive problems have been going on for weeks now, with Michael Dawson and John Thompson undergoing surgery to sort out their injuries while Wes Morgan sits out the first two games due to suspension and David Tarka swans off to the Olympics with Australia.
Joe Kinnear repaired the defence by bringing in Chris Doig and 18-year-old James Perch to plug the gap. But just in case the inexperienced defence needed help, he surprised everyone by getting Des Walker to re-register and started him on the bench.
Wigan, very much up for this after missing out on the play-offs at the last moment, took the game to Forest from the start, with Nathan Ellington and Jason Roberts causing all sorts of problems for the defence.
The defence did stand up to it for nearly forty minutes and looked to be standing strong, with a goal-line clearance from Perch and a lot of great saves from Paul Gerrard, but the pressure did pay off in the end for Wigan.
Though there is an argument that their endeavours deserved a goal, this one should never have stood as Roberts clearly handled the ball as he set up Lee McCulloch to score from the edge of the area.
Naturally the Forest players protested to the referee, after all he was the only person in the whole ground not to see the handball. Of course, the result of the protest was a yellow card for Andy Impey.
In fairness the referee, Phil Dowd (just think back to Highfied Road two seasons ago), was equally as bad for both sides, how this congenital moron got on the ‘select’ list is beyond me.
Kinnear must have worked some magic as he spoke to his players during the break because they did come out for the second half playing better than they had in the first.
Gareth Taylor missed a glorious chance to bring things level in the 50th minute as an Andy Reid free kick found him at the far post, but he could only direct the header straight at Wigan ‘keeper, John Filan.
Taylor then made amends moments later as he redirected Andy Impey’s weak shot into the bottom corner.
Wigan and their fans were furious, believing the goal offside. I don’t think they have a case where Taylor is concerned, but I’d have trouble arguing with them if they brought David Johnson into the equation.
The goal gave Forest the lifeline they needed and it definitely took the wind out of Wigan’s sails, however, they did have the chance to snatch the winner in the closing stages, but Gerrard pulled off another fine save to deny McCulloch.