Nottingham Forest v Grimsby
Nationwide League Division One
Saturday August 14 1999
If today's first 45 minutes had been a boxing match, the referee would have stopped the contest to prevent Grimsby from taking un-necessary punishment, such was the dominance of a rampant Forest side. To end the half only one goal ahead was purely down to the Reds inability to convert the countless chances that their imaginative play had created. Only a mixture of poor finishing and desperate defending stopped the Reds from ending this game as a contest by half time.
As it transpired a solitary goal from Dougie Freedman was all that separated the two sides at the break. A wonderful piece of ball control by Harewood, a perfectly weighted pass to Rogers and a low hard cross to the feet of Freedman and the Reds were ahead.
Prior to this, Forest had two efforts cleared off the line ( the second effort from Freedman seemed to be clearly over the line from my vantage point ), any number of efforts on goal and several attempts that went narrowly wide. To steal a well known phrase " it was just like watching Brazil". Easily the best football I have seen from a Forest side in a long while.
No-one knows what Platt's half time team talk consisted of but it was a different Forest side that emerged for the second period. To be fair to the Reds , Grimsby packed the midfield in an attempt at damage limitation and it worked a treat as Forest struggled to make any headway. A very poor refereeing decision awarded a penalty to the Mariners when the correct decision was a corner. Surely against Big Norm there could only be one outcome? However, even the big man can't save them all and the ball was hammered straight down the middle and into the back of the net.
For the remainder of the half the best chances seemed to go Grimsby's way and the game looked destined to end 1-1. David Platt introduced Carlton Palmer with about 20 minutes to go and it turned out to be inspired. With only a few minutes remaining, Palmer surged into the box, hit a low hard shot into the bottom corner of the net, and Carlton was wheeling away in triumph and Forest had the points.
If the Reds can maintain the level of performance of that first 45 minutes, they will be a hard side to beat and promotion could well become a reality.
FINAL SCORE: FOREST 2 GRIMSBY 1
Star: Gianluca Petrachi.
e-mail: [email protected]