09/05/2004 West Bromwich Albion
2 - 0

It was only nine games ago that Forest went down 4-2 to arch-rivals Derby County and looked in serious danger of relegation. But as humiliating as that defeat was, it was probably the best thing that could have happened as it propelled the team into an unbeaten run that peaked with this 2-0 victory over West Brom.

At three minutes to one this afternoon I was convinced that this final game of the season was set to be a bore draw, neither side had anything to play for, West Brom were already in the Premiership and Forest were safe in mid-table, it would have been easy for both sides to take things easy.

But by three minutes past one my view had changed completely as Forest took an early lead thanks to a great solo effort from Gareth Williams, who picked up the ball in midfield after the Baggies gave away possession.

Williams then ran at the Baggies defence before slotting the ball into the net from the edge of the area.

As good a goal as it was, it was probably a mistake, as the Baggies did not want to lose in front of their home fans on the final day, so they went on the offensive and put Forest under pressure for the rest of the game.

The Forest defence is much stronger these days, and a combination of good defending, inspired goalkeeping from Paul Gerrard, and poor finishing from the West Brom forwards enabled Forest to ride the storm.

Sean Greagan saw his 13th minute strike slice wide of the post before Lee Hughes' turned a corner over the bar from four yards out.

Des Walker then showed he still has it in him to play at this level as he timed his tackle to perfection to stop Rob Hulse in his tracks.

Some inspired goalkeeping from Gerrard then kept out a Paul Robinson strike and a point-blank shot from Hughes, before Walker was again on hand to clear a dangerous corner.

The Baggies to manage to get the ball into the net during the first half, but the referee had already blown for a foul on Gerrard.

The pace of the first half had been frenetic, and it didn't seem likely that it could continue, yet somehow the Baggies came out for the second half and immediately stepped up the pace.

But more superb goalkeeping by Gerrard denied both James Chambers and Scott Dobie in the opening minutes of the second period.

A free kick from Artim Sakiri then took a wicked deflection off the wall, but luck was with Forest and it slid wide of the post.

Sakiri then somehow managed to miss when it would have been easier to score, as Hughes sent the ball in with pace, he blazed it over the bar from less than two yards out.

Moments later Jason Koumas let fly with a rocket shot from 25 yards out, but nothing was getting past Gerrard today and he made yet another good save.

Then, in a rare foray into the West Brom half, Andy Reid almost doubled the lead as he made something out of nothing and curled the ball past Baggies' 'keeper Russell Hoult, only to see it come back off the crossbar.

In stoppage time Reid had another chance, but blazed his shot over the bar.

With less than 30 seconds left and Forest heading for a 1-0 win, David Johnson, who had barely had a touch all game, smashed a stunning 20-yard drive into the top corner of the net.

The Forest fans were having a ball now, but the Baggies' fans were stunned into silence.

Within seconds of the restart the referee blew the final whistle and it was all over for another season. but what a fantastic end for the Reds.

Well done to Joe and the boys, and let's hope for more of the same next year.
Forest Man-of-the-Match:


[Click on Player Name to view Player Profile and Statistics]

No. Player Scored Cards
22  GERRARD       
35  IMPEY  Substituted    
34  ROGERS       
14  JESS       
18  EVANS       
JOHNSON    1  
11  KING       
LOUIS-JEAN  Substitute (On for 35 )    


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