|Magic Marlon pounded a poor Potters side with four first half goals as Forest romped to a 6 – 0 victory today.
Harewood may have walked off with the match ball and the man-of-the-match awards, but this was a superb team performance and other highlights included Andy Reid’s performance. Reid, inconsistent until recent weeks, has improved beyond recognition this season and his 60-yard run to cross for Harewood’s third goal was superb.
There will be some debate over how much influence Darren Huckerby’s introduction to the home fans just before kick-off, had on Harewood’s performance. But, it promises to give Paul Hart some selection headaches in the coming weeks.
When asked about it, Paul Hart would only say: “There may have been a Huckerby factor but I think it would be unfair to say that was the only reason Marlon scored four.”
Having had a fortnight off, Forest started the game quite tentatively, but by six minutes, as Michael Dawson flicked on Reid’s corner for John Thompson to head over, Forest were looking settled and in control.
On 11 minutes, Jim Brennan sent the ball in to Gareth Williams, but it came straight back out to Brennan again. This time he fired in a superb cross, which was put out for a corner. Reid took the corner and Stoke ‘keeper, Steve Banks, punched it out. It fell to Williams, who hooked the ball back in for Thompson to head on. Marlon pounced and bundled the ball over the line. It wasn’t the prettiest of goals, but they all count.
Six minutes later Forest had a shout for a penalty as David Johnson, through on goal, was brought down by Petur Marteinsson. The ref had a great view of the incident and waved play-on.
On 20 minutes, Thompson let fly with a fierce shot that Banks parried away, Peter Handyside had to be quick, turning the ball out for a corner, as Harewood chased the ball.
The second goal arrived on 24 minutes as Harewood moved in field from the right side of the pitch. He slipped the ball through to Johnson on the edge of the penalty area before continuing his run into the box. Johnson trapped the ball then back-heeled it into the path of Harewood who smashed his shot into the top corner of the net.
The third goal came four minutes later after some superb work from Andy Reid, who, after beating his man in his own half with a neat flick, ran fully 60-yards before firing in his cross. Harewood, who had run 40-yards himself, arrived at the far post with perfect timing to smash the ball home for his hat trick.
Harewood, and Forest now looked unstoppable and the Stoke players looked deflated.
Forest almost had a fourth on 30 minutes, when Reid fired in another great ball. This time Harewood rushed his shot and volleyed it over.
Less than seven minutes later a Riccy Scimeca free kick from just outside the area found Harewood, who flicked the ball on to Michael Dawson. Dawson almost bundled it over the line but Banks managed to get down and smother the ball.
The fourth goal of the half arrived with less than two minutes left on the clock. Another great cross from Reid found the head of Harewood, but he hit the woodwork. The ball rebounded to Matthieu Louis-Jean, who blasted a shot back in - it hit Marteinsson. The referee had a good view of the incident and awarded a penalty for deliberate handball. Marteinsson protested vociferously but was given a straight red card - a harsh decision.
There seemed to be some confusion over the penalty as Jim Brennan stepped up to take it. He was looking to add to his goal tally after scoring his first goal for two-years when he played for Canada against Libya in midweek.
Paul Hart and Ian Bowyer were gesticulating and shouting like crazy in the technical area, the language turned the air blue, but the message got through and Harewood stepped up to calmly slot the ball home for his and Forest’s fourth goal.
Forest were out early for the second half, there’s not much you can say to a team that is already winning 4 – 0. Stoke, on the other hand, took their time returning from the break.
Despite Stoke’s attempts at damage limitation, Forest were not going to settle for a four goal victory and they went in search of a fifth from the off. It arrived eight minutes in as yet another Andy Reid cross found David Johnson on the far post. He headed the ball down into the net for his 24th of the season.
After this the game seemed to go flat for a while. Stoke had a few rare chances, but Greenacre, Mills and Neal could only blast their shots wide or over.
On 78 minutes, Reid had a much-deserved chance to get his name on the score sheet. After some good work from Harewood, he laid the ball back for Reid to run on to. Reid smashed it towards goal but some last ditch defending from Wayne Thomas saw it deflect out for a corner.
With Forest cruising to victory, Paul Hart decided to change things and Davy Oyen made his home debut on 69 minutes, replacing John Thompson. He looked good and the crowd warmed to him a minute later as he ran down the left before putting in a great cross for Harewood. Again, more good defending from Thomas saw the ball cleared and Harewood’s chances of getting into the Forest record books as the first player to score five goals in a game were slipping away.
Craig Westcarr came on for Johnson on 75 minutes and Harewood’s chances of getting in the record books ended when Eoin Jess replaced him on 81 minutes. He left the field to a standing ovation from all four sides of the ground.
The final goal arrived on 85 minutes as Louis-Jean pulled the ball back to Jess. On the pitch for only three minutes, Jess blasted he is shot low into the far corner of the net.
There have been times this season when Forest have threatened to put a team to the sword only to waste their chances. They made no mistake this time. It was a superb team performance, but special mention must go to four-goal hero Harewood and Andy Reid, whose contribution to this score line should not be underestimated.
For the record, the last Forest player to score four goals in a game was Lee Chapman, who put four past Q.P.R. in the League Cup, in January 1989.
After the game, an enthusiastic Paul Hart said: “Marlon has been playing well recently and I am delighted for him that he’s got the goals. That takes him to 15 for the season and with David Johnson scoring his 24th; it’s not a bad return from your strikers.
“As a team we have been threatening to do something like that all season. We could have had a similar score line against Coventry the other week but had to settle for a 1-1 draw.
“It’s all about taking your chances and today we did that.”
And the manager was still not giving too much away about his plans for Darren Huckerby, adding: “All I know is that we will need Darren and everyone else we can lay our hands on in the coming weeks because we have a gruelling schedule.”
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Ben Matkin a 15-year-old season ticket holder has sent us his own report on the game, read it below.
Nottingham Forest today destroyed Stoke in a 6-0 thriller at the City Ground with Marlon Harewood scoring four goals in which was probably one of his best games in a Forest shirt.
Forest in their quest for promotion have signed local Nottingham lad Darren Huckerby on loan but with this display from the strikers, in particular Marlon Harewood, Forest showed how dangerous they are in front of goal and Huckerby can only make us even more dangerous.
Forest had kept the same line up from their game against Crystal Palace and was looking for third consecutive win.
After 10 minutes of no real domination from either side , Forest broke the deadlock with Harewood’s first of the day after a Reid corner which was poorly defended, Marlon volleyed home past Banks in the Stoke goal to put Forest on the way.
The second Forest goal came on 24 minutes after some excellent link up play with David Johnson and Marlon Harewood , as Marlon passed to Johnson on the edge of the area who back heeled the ball to Harewood running into the box who buried his shot into the roof of the net leaving Banks in the Stoke goal helpless.
The third goal of the match and Marlon Harewood’s third has to be given credit to the young and revitalised Andy Reid, who was instrumental in the third goal. He ran with the ball 60 yards and beat at least 2 defenders and put in a low cross into the path of Marlon Harewood who under some pressure from a Stoke defender , slotted the ball home for Forest’s third and his hatrick , his second of the season.
The first half was nearly complete when Forest were ravaging the Stoke defence , with a shot blocked from young John Thompson and then Frenchman , Matthieu Louis – Jean’s shot was handled over the bar by Marteinsson and the defender was subsequently sent off by referee Uriah Rennie and a penalty was given . After some dispute as to who would take the spot-kick , it came to Marlon Harewood who sent Banks the wrong way in the Stoke goal and Harewood slotted it into the left corner of the net to make it 4-0 and he had all four and this was only the first half !
In contrast the second half was a much quieter affair. As you would expect, the leading Division one goal scorer finally got his name on the score sheet after an excellent cross by Andy Reid, David Johnson out jumped the defenders and headed the ball home. After three substitutes of Jess , Westcarr and the Forest fans got a glimpse of Belgian international , Davy Oyven who all came on and battled well . Forest finally got the sixth through substitute Jess, who had barely been on the pitch and he slotted home a shot in the far left corner after some excellent work by Louis- Jean.
Another great display by Paul Hart’s men as Forest move up to fourth in the table and gain their third successive win and send Stoke tumbling to the bottom of the First Division .
This display from Forest was magnificent , great displays from Brennan , Louis – Jean , Reid and captain for the day Gareth Williams but man of the match and most credit must go to Marlon Harewood , who has really improved his level of performance this season and the chants around the ground “Marlon for England “ , surely can’t be too wrong !
A brilliant game and a display that really echoes Forest's strong chance of promotion.