After two first-half goals and a sending off, Nottingham Forest lost their pre-Christmas Day fixture for the first time since 2006. Tom Barber offers a fan’s eye view from Vicarage Road.
Personally I was very much looking forward to Brighton and Watford over the Christmas period, there’s always good banter in the away end at this time of year. The Brighton game wasn’t great, although I thought we had the better of the second-half, but a point would do and we’d pick up another point or three next week. Or at least I thought.
I was eager to see if there had been any ground improvements at Vicarage Road, remembering how poor the place looked with the disused old terracing on one side of the pitch. But there hadn’t been and as we were stood pretty close to it, it meant the atmosphere around the ground was barely existent, other than some singing from the Forest faithful.
Getting on to the game and, to be honest, I’d rather not. Forest had changed formation to 3-5-2 and put Ward in for Guedioura to match Watford’s formation. Cox also came in for Blackstock.
There was a fair bit of rain before kick-off to give a nice zip to the surface and Forest started well with Collins rising to a free header from a corner but couldn’t get in on target. The next 15 minutes were pretty scrappy with neither side taking control, then Harding backing off too much and a poor lunge from Ayala led to Vydra shooting hard past Camp from close range and it was 1-0.
Undeserved at that point I felt but, after a couple of more lunges from the Forest defenders, Ayala finally got what he seemingly wanted with a second yellow card for pushing over a Watford man who was running at goal. It was a stupid red to get and he let the team and fans down with it. Shortly after Vydra got his second and it was 2-0 at half-time down to 10 men.
Finally we heard a little noise from the Watford fans singing “You should have gone Christmas shopping, gone Christmas shopping!” and they were dead right.
A nice hot sausage roll at half-time, the replacement of Harding with Halford (which I was hoping for), Pep on for Reid, and an early corner got myself and a lot of the away following pumped up at the beginning of the second-half. However, it came to nothing and other than a fairly impressive performance from Pep, and Billy Sharp doing his best to create a one on one with the keeper which he put wide, there wasn’t much to be happy with in the second half.
There were a few more yellow cards for Forest late on and ironic chants of “We got a shot on target, shot on target!” when Pep fired the first of the day (I don’t believe the BBC report saying we had five) after 92 minutes.
Bad day and we should have gone Christmas shopping. I, for one, still back Sean O’Driscoll as I think it’s going to take more time for him to find a solid defence — it was all rushed in the summer. One easy, immediate improvement would be Halford for Harding though.
With home backing for the next two games over Christmas let’s hope the Reds don’t play like turkeys again and can pull in a couple of three-point crackers against Leeds and Palace.
You can follow Tom on Twitter: @tombarberTLB
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