Nottingham Forest beat Charlton Athletic 2-0 as the Reds moved to within touching distance of the play-off places. Damo Bell offers a fan’s eye view from the Valley.
Round the corner. Down the corridor. Through the Blackwall Tunnel. Into the Valley. The battlefield.
And so we arrived. A bitterly cold day in south London – Jack Frost wasn’t just nipping on your nose, more ripping your clothes asunder and gnawing on your knackers. Into the Valley by The Skids duly played over the PA whilst we drew sustenance from the bar and burger van at the back of the South Stand.
Players emerged onto the battlefield. The hardy men of Nottingham sported short sleeves five to two to those of Charlton. A good omen. ‘Man Up’ as the Brut ad hoarding at the far end of the ground implored, a 70s slogan brought up to date as 2013 cliché.
Forest dominated the first-half: good, tight, possession-play though limited clear chances. Charlton, despite having beaten Leicester 2-1 away midweek, appear hamstrung at home, a constant of their season so far in the Championship, after storming to the League One title last season.
On 36 minutes Charlton’s Yann Kermorgant had an unnecessary kick at Greg Halford; an unnecessary red card followed. Not a turning point, but a helping hand to Forest capitalising on building pressure.
Half-time arrived and with the Addicks stifled at home, in an attempt to leaven the mood, the pitch had been transformed into a beach. But the home fans weren’t forthcoming with buckets and spades to enjoy the jolly at the pseudo-seaside.
Round the corner. Down the corridor. Through the half-time tunnel. Into the Valley. The battlefield.
And so the second-half kicked off. Seemingly dead (zombie?) pigeons in the netting amongst the rafters above the away end made their presence felt with a series of presents raining down on the travelling Trickies. A good omen.
Shortly after the pigeons’ presents, some good inter-play led to a loose ball being stabbed in by Radi. Cue euphoria, wild jumping and hugging. At the 60-minute mark, a shot from Cox was spilled by Charlton’s keeper Hamer, and Lansbury knocked it in to make it 2-0.
Bliss was it in that dawn to be alive, But to be young was very heaven*
Two goals from two midfielders who’d netted in Tuesday’s 6-1 hammering of Huddersfield. With Charlton down to 10 men, and Forest dominating possession and chances (Charlton’s first clear chance, a free-kick, wasn’t till the 80th minute), the remainder of the game was a breeze, which Wee Billy Krankie used to make a number of subs to rest the goal-scorers (Greening and McGugan both made late cameos).
Positives from the match: Radoslaw Majewski seems to be flourishing under Davies. Henry Lansbury, with more time on the pitch, is showing some lovely touches, passes and movement. Gonzalo Jara Reyes, at right-back, looks very good and, without slipping into South American superlatives, at times looks a different class.
Is the second coming of Billy Davies going to be triumphant? It’s far too early to tell, but with nine goals for, two against and seven points from three games, it’s a great start. Davies seems to be able to cajole every ounce of effort and ability from his players and maybe, just maybe, BD is bringing back another 70s cliché: Forest winning, home and away.
* from The Prelude by William Wordsworth/Tony Wilson (24 Hour Party People) – I have no qualms in stealing a common journalistic trope used, e.g. by Paul Kimmage, the feted former Sunday Times sports journalist, to impart gravitas to a piece by inserting a random, yet seemingly deep, philosophical quote.
Also, applies to nicking and amending David Peace’s rhythmical repetition, from his brilliant The Damned United.
You can follow Damo on Twitter: @elDamo
Image courtesy of nuttakit/FreeDigitalPhotos.net