24/11/1999 Portsmouth
2 - 0

At last, Nottingham Forest have got their man. The Reds tonight unveiled new signing Stern John and turned him loose on unfortunate Portsmouth. How they must be wishing that they had played us last week. It is hard to believe that one player can make such a difference to a team, but that would appear to be the case as the Reds tore into Pompey right from the start. We have attacked teams before, but tonight the one ingredient that has previously been missing was most definitely there - the killer instinct.
Stern John received a hero's welcome from the Forest Faithful ( just over 13,000, which is bitterly disappointing ) and it took him only 6 minutes to demonstrate just what a handful for opposing defences he is going to be. It was a marvelous move by Forest. Rogers and Brennan are now beginning to form a good understanding, and the pair combined superbly to craft the opener. Rogers won the ball in midfield and played a wonderful pass, weighted to perfection, into the path of Brennan, who was steaming down the left wing. He sent over a first time cross to the near post that was hit first time with his left foot by John and the ball thudded into the back of the net. It was the perfect start, all the pressure that would surely have built on John had he taken a few games to get off the mark, gone in the blink of an eye.
5 minutes later and John showed us another side to his game. Again the move began down the left with Brennan and Rogers linking well. This time the ball was fired in by Tank and went right across the area where it was picked up by Prutton. He played the ball back into the box to John who showed considerable strength in holding off Moore, before laying the ball into the feet of Beck, who swept home his first goal for Forest past the helpless Flahavan. 11 minutes gone. 2 up and we thought we were going to thrash them out of sight. We didn't, and all credit to Portsmouth for battling back well, but it did seem to most of us that Forest took their foot off the gas a little. The Reds still dominated possession, especially in the first half when we defended well up, before for some reason defending much deeper in the second half and inviting Pompey to have a go.
John could have scored a couple more. He showed great skill when he took down a pass from Prutton and in one movement flicked the ball over the defenders head and met it on the volley, unfortunately shooting straight at the keeper. Equally impressive was the flying attempt to get his head onto a cross from Beck in the second half that he missed by a fraction of an inch. Had he connected it would surely have been number 3 for Forest. But this game wasn't just about Stern John, impressive though he was. Most of tonight's side played much better than of late, although Bart-Williams still disappointed many, and if Mannini is a right back then so is my Granny. Crossley's kicking once again left a lot to be desired with far too many simply going out of play.
But 3 points are very welcome, and the display, certainly for the first 45 minutes, has restored some of my belief. We now need to build on this by winning at Palace on Saturday before we start a run of 3 consecutive Home matches. Who knows? In a few weeks time we may be snapping at the heels of the play-off pack. Amazing what a win can do, innit!! Two items of humour ( ? ) from the Pinnacle Place Mob last night: To the aggravating bastard from Portsmouth with the bell - " YOU'RE NOT RINGING ANYMORE" soon after Beck's goal and " PORTSMOUTH'S FULL OF SEMEN", a solo effort by Steve Ralling. Family holidays mean that the Match Reports for the next two weeks will be shared by 'Red Kev' and 'Selston Red'. If anyone else fancies a bash, contact Kev or Steve through the usual channels.
Forest Man-of-the-Match: Stern Jo-ohn, Big Stern John


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

No. Player Scored Cards
  MANNINI  Substituted    
40  PRUTTON       
  BECK    1  
  JOHN  Substituted 1  
  ROGERS  Substituted    
14  DOIG  Substitute (On for 2 )    
  QUASHIE  Substitute (On for 11 )    
  FREEMAN  Substitute (On for 10 )    


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