27/07/1999 Bradford
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Steve Ralling
OK! - Who forgot to tell us that the kick-off was going to be 7:30pm and NOT 7:45pm as published! Many people turned up 10 mins before the published time and missed the first Forest goal!! David Platt created the first goal, just 3 minutes into the game with some good work on the wing, crossing deep to Dougie Freedman who side-footed the ball past the keeper.
Both sides looked keen and passed the ball around well. This is a much better game plan than we demonstrated last season, where it just seemed to be "pump the ball up the field and chase it"... Bradford drew level on 22 minutes when Gareth Ward created an opening for Peter Beagrie to fire one in from a distance which Dave Beasant did well to get down to, but he only managed to push the ball away. Wayne Jacobs pounced on the chance and his fierce shot was once again parried away by Dave Beasant. Finally, Jacobs had one final stab at the ball and found the back of the net to make the score even. That is how the game stood at half-time.
Forest didn't take long to find the back of the net again in the second half, with Marlon Harewood, coming on as a substitute, using his strength to hold off Wayne Jacobs and turn to fire a tremendous shot past the stranded keeper and into the top left hand side of the net after just 13 minutes. In the end that was the way that the score stayed. Both Forest and Bradford showed aggression and a competitive edge which will be vital in the coming seasons for both clubs. I cannot help but feel that Bradford will find it just as tough in the Premier league as Forest did last year... they played with a lot of heart, but didn't show the sort of form that we now know, with hindsight, is needed for the top-flight in English football.
Forest, on the other hand, showed a refreshing change to their game play. Gone is the "Oh shit - I've got the ball... I'd better get rid of it quickly..." approach that we witnessed for so long last season, with many of the players holding up the ball, turning their opponent and playing good foot-to-foot passes. This is good stuff, and if we keep it up, we could do well in the coming months. I would find it difficult to single out any one player for credit tonight as the whole team played well. The defence in particular looked like a well-honed unit, with Rogers back in his old left-back position, Chets and Riccie Scimeca in the middle, and a very fit-looking Louis-Jean on the right. Quashie beavered away all evening, causing all sorts of trouble for the Bantams defence, with CBW looking very strong alongside him. Even Andy Gray (who has taken a lot of stick recently) looked quick-off-the-mark, with some good runs, linking up well on the left with Alan Rogers. The Boss played for the first 45 minutes, showing some of his old class, but towards the end of the half started to show signs of tiredness that is surely due to his relatively long absence from the game. His mind is still fit though ;-)
Up front, Dougie and Marlon looked good, with Dougie twisting and turning the Bradford back four this way and that, and Marlon using his speed and strength to muscle his way through. Riccie Scimeca? - What a good buy! He looked superb, with aggressive tackling and long passes straight out of the David Beckham book of long passes! One thing though Riccie... BUY SOME TIES FOR YOUR SOCKS MATE! - He spent most of the game with his socks round his ankles and his shin pads scattered all over the park! Very gallant, but asking for a shattered shin bone if he does this in the Nationwide. The only sour moment of the evening came when Bernard Allou, who had played a brilliant second half, hit Peter Beagrie with a crunching tackle (which looked very much like retaliation following an alleged elbow-in-the-face from the Bradford player). Had this been a league game, and given that the referee was none other that a certain Mr. M. Riley, I have no doubt that Allou would have been given his marching orders. But under the circumstances, a long hard talk from the referee was followed by a sporting handshake and a pat on the back. WELL DONE LADS! - the best performance I have witnessed for a long time!!
Forest Man-of-the-Match:


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