Tonight Nottingham Forest were simply far too good for the " Valiant's" and recorded their first away victory of the season with some ease.
Again lined up in a 4-4-2 formation, and with the welcome return of Bart-Williams, the Reds looked solid at the back and well balanced throughout the side, as everyone apart from Doig played in the positions they are best at. Alan Rogers in particular was again extremely effective operating in a more forward role, and his pace caused problems for Vale from the start.
Forest took the lead after 16 minutes. A series of passes saw the ball arrive at the feet of Bonalair, who struck the ball well. It appeared to be going well wide but struck the back of Carragher and was deflected past Musselwhite and into the net.
Forest continued to dominate the game and thought they had added to the score after 26 minutes. Forest were awarded a free-kick out on the right and Rogers sent in a lovely cross that was met by Freedman. His header found the back of the net, but the referee disallowed his effort, ruling that Rogers had taken the kick from the wrong position. Freedman went close again 2 minutes later, a last ditch tackle by Gardner just denying him.
Ian Wright was next to go close, the keeper just managing to get his fingertips to Wrighty's attempt to chip him. However, Ian didn't have to wait too much longer before he added to his seasons goal tally.
Rogers again collected the ball out on the left, and set off on another of those incisive runs. On the edge of the box he played a neat one-two with Freedman, and although he had the opportunity to shoot, he saw Wright lurking at the far post, played the ball across the box and Wright calmly tapped home one of the easiest goals of his career.
Forest were cruising at this stage, and Vale's task was made even more difficult after 54 minutes when Butler was sent off for lashing out at Freedman. The Reds continued to dominate for the remainder of the game, Wright, Rogers and Freedman all having chances to extend the lead, but there was to be no addition to the score-line.
As well as the welcome return of the Bartman, it was also good to see Ian Woan make his return to first team football. Although only on the field for 4 minutes, Squirrel put through 2 or 3 wonderful passes to Wright - maybe this is a sign of things to come.
The only downside to tonight's performance was the loss of Matrecano, with what is suspected to be a cruciate ligament injury. If this is confirmed, then the next time we see Toto may be at the next pre-season training.
With back to back Home games in the next week, Forest have given themselves a chance to get back in touch at the top end of the Division. I, for one, feel confident that they will make the most of it.