Ipswich v Nottingham Forest - Saturday August 7 1999
Weather Conditions: Wet and humid
Referee: Phil Richards
Forest travelled to Ipswich for today's curtain-raiser and, on paper at least, they won't get much harder than this - 2 of the Division's promotion favourites meeting head on.
With Steve Chettle suspended, David Platt handed the captain's arm-band to CBW, with new signing Ricky Scimeca as Vice-Captain. The Manager has announced that Big Norm is the Club's official No 1 keeper and will have 2 months to make the position his own. Great news for the Reds is the availability of our 3 Italians, and they all start today's game.
Reds Line Up: Crossley, Louis-Jean, Mannini, Matrecano, Bonalair, Scimeca, Quashie, Bart-Williams, Petrachi, Freedman, Rogers.
Forest Kick Off, the ball is laid back to Scimeca and is immediately hoofed up field in the arms of Richard Wright. Ipswich's first attack ends with a high ball into the Forest box, which is won impressively by Matrecano, easily out-jumping David Johnson. The early pressure is applied by the Reds with neat work from Petrachi and Rogers. Good signs are Forest push Ipswich back into their own half. After 3 minutes, the first signs of danger for Forest emerge, with a well timed run by Johnson, being halted by Matrecano, the ball finally being cleared by Bonalair.
More danger for Forest after 9 minutes. Johnson spins away from Mannini and is through with only Crossley to beat. Incredibly, Johnson manages to hit the inside of the post, the ball rebounds back to him and his second attempt is well saved by Big Norm. The reds carved open and fortunate to still be on level terms. Forest are now firmly on the back foot and another long ball looking for Johnson almost causes problems for the Reds but Crossley is alive to the situation and is quickly out to collect the ball.
Following a mistake by Mannini, Matrecano is forced to foul Naylor and becomes Forest's first player to be yellow carded - welcome to England! The free kick is well struck from distance but parried well by Crossley, and hoisted up field. The ball is well collected by Petracchi, who shows good skill in taking on 3 defenders, but his final ball is disappointing.
More pressure from Ipswich, who look impressive when going forward, but the Red's Italian defenders are giving Ipswich, Johnson in particular, far too much room. After 13 minutes the Reds get their first sniff of a chance with a free-kick 30 yards from goal. The ball is rolled to CBW, whose floated effort is deflected for a corner. This is all too predictable and goes out for an Ipswich goal kick.
Ipswich appear to go up a gear after a quarter of an hour, with Stockwell, Holland and Johnson all beginning to test the Red's defence. Another foul, this time by Louis-Jean, and Forest have collected their 2nd yellow card. From the resulting free-kick, the ball is crossed high into the Forest box and all the old nightmares return. Richard Naylor, completely unmarked, heads the ball past the helpless Mark Crossley and the Reds trail 1-0 after only 18 minutes. From the kick-off, Ipswich are straight back at Forest and the Reds are rocking. A long ball by Holland is nodded on by Naylor to Johnson, who spins away from Mannini, leaves him for dead and crashes the ball past Crossley. 2 goals in 2 minutes and its turning into a 'mare for the Reds.
Forest are just not at the races, and it is already difficult to see Forest recovering from this. At the front, Freedman is battling away, but is getting no support. Another excellent move by Ipswich, and only the awareness of Norm prevents a third goal.
With 26 minutes gone, a long ball is well controlled by Freedman, who turns swiftly away from McGreel. The defender can only haul down Freedman, and he becomes the third player to receive the yellow card. The free kick is taken by CBW but his effort lacks power and goes straight to Richard Wright. Another swift attack by Ipswich is halted by a clumsy tackle by Bonalair, and after only 30 minutes, the Reds have 3 defenders on a yellow card. Again the free-kick is high into the box and it is another free header for Naylor, but this time the effort goes narrowly wide. The 4-3-3 system is definitely not working well, and the boys are making basic, elementary mistakes, and the pace of Johnson is causing plenty of problems. Yet another deep cross into the box by Holland is nodded down by Scowcroft and a volley from Naylor is well saved by Crossley. Quashie is having a miserable game, and another misplaced pass puts Forest into more trouble. Crossley is now getting very animated with his defence and rightly so. The Italian duo are playing much too deep. The goal that Forest badly need almost arrives after 34 minutes. A long ball through to Freedman, a quick turn and volley and the ball crashes against the underside of the bar, out and is turned behind for a corner.
Ipswich look at least a yard faster than Forest, who continue to look very short on ideas. Well into injury time, more nervous times for Forest as Ipswich win another corner. The ball is again tossed in high to the near post, but this time cleared by Matrecano and the referee blows for half time.
A first half to forget and surely Platt has to make changes for the second half.
When the teams emerged, Forest reverted to a 4-4-2 formation. Bonalair was replaced by Harewood who obviously went to partner Dougie, with Alan Rogers dropping into defence. From the kick off Forest were immediately put back under pressure. The Reds weathered this particular storm and responded with pressure of their own. Harewood showed good strength to hold off the Ipswich defence, before being brought down and winning a free kick. More good work followed with a neat interchange of passes by Harewood, Freedman and Petrachi. The Reds, however, seemed to want too much time on the ball and were constantly harassed by the Ipswich players. An excellent break by Ipswich involving Scowcroft, Holland, Naylor and Johnson put Forest back under pressure, but Crossley was quickly out to smother the ball. Norm quickly got rid of the ball and Petrachi ran at the Ipswich defence. With the defence caught in 2 minds over who to mark, Petrachi attempted a 35 yard chip that was just tipped over by Richard Wright for a corner. Ipswich cleared the corner, Jermaine Wright raced away and played a square ball to Scowcroft who launched it straight at Crossley when he should have done better. Following a brief spell of pressure from Forest that didn't really create a chance, CBW became Forest's 4th player to be carded when he just caught the heels of Matt Holland.
Forest are not looking comfortable, and the pressure is beginning to mount again. Another excellent move by Ipswich ends with Johnson being flattened on the edge of the area by Mannini, although no foul is awarded to the amazement of the Ipswich players. After 59 minutes another burst through the defence by Johnson again causes huge problems for the Reds defence, and under pressure from Mannini, he tumbles to the floor looking for a penalty. It is not given, but Forest are lucky to escape. At the other end, a promising move from the Reds ends with Quashie giving the ball away again - he is having a truly forgettable game. Even at 2-0 down, and not playing well, you always believe that if you get the next goal you can get back into things. Unfortunately the next goal again went to Ipswich. A quick burst through a static Forest defence and Scowcroft drove the ball past Crossley. 3-0. Game, set and match! With 20 minutes to go, Forest appear to be just going through the motions, when, God be praised, Marlon is up ended in the box. Penalty! Bart-man steps up and calmly plants the ball into the net for his 4th consecutive scoring game for the Reds. 3-1. Is this the start of a remarkable comeback? Not a chance! For some reason, with only 13 minutes to go, Forest do not commit themselves to all out attack and seem to have accepted their fate. Things could, and should, have got worse for the Reds. Another quick break by Ipswich, Naylor skinned Matrecano but shoots just wide, when it looked easier to score. With 2 minutes to go, Jermaine Wright (remember him) waltzed inside Mannini and hit a tremendous 20 yard curler that sneaked just past the post. The final whistle can't come soon enough, and thankfully there is only 1 minute of stoppage time.
The Reds need to recovery quickly from this. They looked short of ideas and hurried and nervous in defence. Second favourites for promotion? Not on this showing.
Stanno's Star: Mark Crossley.
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