|Forest came away from Preston today with exactly what they deserved Ė nothing!.
Anyone seeing the 3 Ė 2 scoreline in Prestonís favour could be forgiven for thinking this was a close game. It wasnít. Preston should have won this easily and by a much bigger margin.
In fact they would have done had it not been for two strikes from Marlon King in the 79th and 80th minutes which gave the Reds a lifeline.
Preston also contributed to the Forest goals as well, having substituted both their strikers, Guylain Ndumbu-Nsungu and Richard Cresswell in the 76th minute. These two had been a constant thorn in the side of a very frail looking Forest defence.
With these two off the field the pressure was eased a little and Forest started to attack, two minutes later King got the first goal, followed less than two minutes later by his second. The Preston manager, Billy Davis, must have been wondering what the hell he had just done as Forest looked for the miracle third goal that could have saved them.
The game had started brightly enough with Forest almost opening the scoring in the first minute as David Johnsonís cross found the head of Eugen Bopp, unfortunately his header didnít quite have the power it needed and Preston Ďkeeper, Gavin Ward managed to stick out a leg and deflect the ball away from danger.
Preston then showed they meant business as they started to lay siege to the Forest goal and dominated the game throughout the first half.
It was thanks to Paul Gerrard that the Reds didnít concede too early, but inevitably they did and the goal came in the 11th minute.
Dickson Etuhu crossed the ball and found the head of Paul McKenna, just six yards out. McKenna made no mistake and Paul Gerrard was left fishing the ball out of the net.
Preston almost made it two less than a minute later as Ndumbu-Nsungu drilled in a low shot which had Gerrard at full stretch to pull off a fine save and tip it round for a corner.
The Forest defence was looking frail and Preston were cutting through time and again, particularly the impressive Ndumbu-Nsungu and Cresswell.
The second goal arrived on 36 minutes, it was as inevitable as the first, but this time it came from a corner which found the head of an unmarked Chris Lucketti just eight yards out. He made no mistake as he guided the ball into the net.
Somehow Forest managed to hang on for the remainder of the half, but it didnít look good and the feeling was things could only get worse.
Preston started the second half just as they had finished the first, very much in charge. So it came as something of a surprise that a) Forest got a couple of chances in, and b) it took Preston 12 minutes to get the third goal.
A throw-in found the head of Etuhu who was inside the six-yard box and again, no mistake was made as the ball flew in the net.
That was 3-0 and all the goals from headers, something for Joe and the boys to work on during training this week me-thinks.
Joe Kinnear brought on Gareth Taylor in the 62nd minute to give the attack more bite, nine minutes later the nightmare got worse as Taylor clashed with Claude Davis, who, it has to be said, deserves an Oscar for his performance. He didnít get one, but he did get a yellow card while Taylor was shown a straight red card.
I donít know what is happening with Forestís discipline at the moment, it might be the pressure of their precarious position in the league, but that is the third red card in three games now and itís not nice to watch.
There was suddenly some light at the end of the tunnel for Forest though, when, in the 76th minute Preston manager Billy Davis took off Ndumbu-Nsungu and Cresswell. I donít know if it was for fitness or tactical reasons, but I hope fitness, otherwise it will go down as one of the worst tactical decisions I have ever seen.
Ndumbu-Nsungu and Cresswell had ripped the Forest defence to shreds all afternoon and their departures suddenly gave the Reds room to play again, and for an all too brief moment they did.
It looked like just a consolation goal as King netted in the 78th minute to make the score 3-1, but when Johnson nodded the ball down two minutes later King struck again, this time a sweet right-footed volley from 10-yards out to give Forest hope of a comeback.
Preston were now very edgy, and Forest sensed it as they went in search of the equalizer, it wasnít to be. And as the final whistle blew it was a very relieved Billy Davis who congratulated his players as they left the field.