With just a week to go before the new season kicks off, Nottingham Forest beat West Bromwich Albion 1-0 as Stuart Pearce made his first appearance at a home game. Pierce Bramley offers a fan’s eye view from the City Ground…
A rainy and overcast day saw the return of Stuart Pearce to the City Ground for the first time since relegation from the Premier League in 1997. I have to admit, I was more than excited to see Forest in action once again after such a long wait, and although the World Cup and cricket had kept me entertained, there’s just something about going down to the City Ground (or is it the KCG Stadium?) that feels magic.
There is an air of optimism around the place. The dark, gloomy past of the Billy Davies regime has been well and truly lifted. Anyway, enough blabbing about the poisonous dwarf…
Today was the first time I’d seen our new look side in action against a West Brom side that had won four and drawn two of its previous friendlies. As I looked at the starting line-up, I felt slightly concerned over the persistent use of Danny Fox at centre-half. It looks as though he will be used alongside Mancienne until the return of Hobbs, Wilson and Lascelles. Other than that, the side looked fairly solid.
The front four looked particularly exciting with Pato, Reid and Burke in behind the lone man Fryatt. The subs bench, however, was enough to lift my hopes not only for the game, but for the season. Hobbs and Cohen, two hugely influential figures for us, were finally back.
The atmosphere at the ground as Psycho emerged from the tunnel — and was welcomed with rapturous applause — was brilliant. I can only imagine the atmosphere come 3pm this time next week.
It will definitely be one not to miss, and with a sell-out crowd expected it should be a magical occasion. Which, of course, is bound to be ruined by our bogey team, Blackpool, who despite barely having a first XI will inevitably beat us 1-0 in the dying embers of the game from a ping-pong scramble in the box. Ugh.
The game started just as you’d expect for a pre-season friendly; slow, scrappy and rather boring. Both sides were finding their feet in the game with West Brom enjoying the lion’s share of the ball and Forest content to soak up pressure and hit them on the break.
Paterson had one or two chances to take his man on, but failed to do so and needlessly gave the ball away once or twice; a sign of the sharpness still needed to be gained. Trialist Mikele Leigertwood would appear to be a perfect fit for us as he seems incapable of going two weeks without getting injured. No but seriously, we cannot sign him — I would rather have Moussi back, thanks.
Fox and Mancienne both had a solid game, I was very surprised at how adept Fox was out of position, and I’d go as far to say as I’d be happy for him to fill in there. Burke did tremendously well for the goal, as a superb cross-field ball from Fox picked him out and he cut inside and laid it on a plate for Fryatt, who tucked it away with ease.
I was slightly disappointed with the performances of Reid and Paterson, neither of whom seemed to be able to get it right all game. But this is what pre-season is for I suppose.
At the other end, Darlow had very little to do as the Baggies struggled to create any meaningful chances. Harding and Hunt were both putting in decent performances at full-back, nullifying the electric Berahino. Ben Osborn was having a blinder in the centre of midfield, he asserted himself on the game very well and made some neat forward passes and won the ball well alongside Jorge Grant who replaced Leigertwood.
After the interval, Reid should’ve made it two but it somehow stayed out. Cohen and Hobbs both made their return with the captain getting plenty of support from the terraces. I actually felt a bit sorry for Hobbs as he too is an integral figure for us but didn’t quite get the same level of support. West Brom eventually carved out a chance, but couldn’t find a way past Darlow. Veldwijk among others came on but failed to have much of an impact as West Brom pushed for an equaliser.
And before I knew it, it was full-time. A solid win and encouraging signs from the side. A striker and a defensive midfielder would still be high on my list.. roll on the new season and, hopefully, promotion.