A 4-1 defeat by Bournemouth leaves Nottingham Forest five points from the play-off positions with one game to go, and another season to reflect upon. Justin Heaton offers a fan’s eye view from the Goldsands Stadium…
Well, it was what it was. An absolutely disastrous second-half to a season that had promised so much. Another season abruptly halted by another shambolic second-half performance in a big game.
It doesn’t seem to matter if it’s the last game, the penultimate game or a play-off semi-final, the outcome always seems to be a heavy defeat caused by a second-half where the players on the pitch — and there’s been many over the years — wave the white flag far too easily.
Admittedly this season had been derailed by the catastrophic injury list which still shows no sign of improving, but the seasoned pros who have replaced the first choices have been nothing short of woeful. Halford, Jara, Collins, Fox, Harding, Moussi, Majewski, Cox, Mackie and Henderson (I’m sure there’s more) should be moved on as soon as Mr Pearce walks through the door on 1 July. Massive wages are being paid to this lot and they have proved time and again that they are not good enough for a team pushing for promotion.
Anyway, the game. Well, for 43 minutes it was pretty much a non-event, strange for a ‘must win’ game. Forest looked solid, pretty much as they had in the previous game at Elland Road, restricting the home side to 25-yard shots off target; but the concern was at the other end. The only plan seemed to be to bang balls down the channels and hope Derbyshire got on the end of one. He did once and tested Camp from a tight angle but there was nothing else. No midfielders breaking into the area, no wingers hitting the byline, just pretty much hit and hope.
It seemed as though the game would meander on like this until someone made a change but then, out of nothing, a right-wing cross was headed home by Kermorgant. Collins berated Halford, who gave his usual ‘couldn’t give a flying one’ gesture, and Forest went in one down. So we now needed two goals for the win, which seemed highly unlikely.
Two quickly became three as Grabban found himself free in the Forest penalty box at the start of the second-half and shot across de Vries into the corner.
Game over, season over.
But then the sleeping giant stirred and Halford nodded in an Osborn free-kick and thoughts went back 20 years to a 2-0 deficit being overturned by a Collymore brace and a Psycho header to get us to the Promised Land.
Then the pivotal point of the game, where Halford somehow missed from four yards, and the rest is history. Jara made his only contribution to the game by conceding a penalty and a fourth went in late on.
If Halford had scored would we have won? Who knows? Did we want the season dragging on for another week to fall at the final hurdle? Not sure. Did we want to go into the play-offs minus Reid, Lansbury, Wilson, Cohen, Lichaj, Hobbs and Paterson? Not really.
There’s a lot of work to be done by our friend Psycho over the summer, not least getting to the bottom of how there has been so many injuries, but the season ticket is renewed for the 31st season in a row because there is always next year.
Have a good summer, we deserve that.