After the midweek shellacking of poor old Fulham, it would have been natural to assume another goal blitz was on the cards and written in the stars, what with Britt Assombalonga scoring for fun and all. But it is a rare occurrence for such a goal spree to be followed by another one…unless you happen to follow Chelsea...or any other number of high scoring clubs. For Forest, we have to wring out as much enjoyment as possible from such events since they are invariably followed by more barren periods. After our 7-1 demolishing of Sheffield Wednesday back in April 1995, a more mundane 1-1 draw with West Ham proceeded, disappointing many who turned up excepting, nay demanding, more of the same.
In truth, this was a rather flat display, from which the league leaders were a tad fortunate not to concede. From an attacking perspective, Forest were reduced to two half chances: an early shot from Michail Antonio after a neat piece of skill allowed him to cut inside and fire a shot and a late effort from Assombalonga, on which it is probably best not dwell.
The Lions themselves were, for the most part, frustrated by Michael Mancienne’s elegance, yet they might look upon the two chances spurned by Martyn Woolford and Mathias Ranegie as good opportunities wasted. But there is, like always, a different way to look at things. An early injury to Jack Hunt forced him off the pitch, resulting in Eric Lichaj switching to right back and Danny Fox entering the fray at left back. He wasted little time in putting an almighty enforcer of a tackle that had us frantically searching for that Stuart Pearce tackle on Ted McMinn. And here it is:
Hunt’s enforced substitution comes hot on the heels of the loss of Andy Reid, Jack Hobbs and of course, Chris Cohen. In the space of three games in six days, we have gone from a very stable and unchanged team to one having to cope with mid game reshuffling. Up to now, we have coped admirably with such events but perhaps this game was one too many in terms of dealing with the required tinkering. In such light, this result can be filed away safely in the cupboard marked, ‘decent point away from home’.
After the game, the sizeable away support was ‘invited’ to wait patiently until the good police enforcers of the Metropolitan area were to open the gates and escort us back to South Bermondsey Station; rarely has such an invitation sounded so threatening. Besides, we were hardly likely to reject this invitation – the alternative of scaling the fences and walking back to London Bridge unaided was one that held little appeal. Invitation duly accepted. We had noted the Millwall casuals’ excessive jumping, shouting and stamping of feet whenever a Forest player looked at one of theirs. Even though one of their numbers’ sartorial choice of summer pastel shades and accompanying preppy ‘jumper round shoulders’ look slightly reduced his sense of menace, we still, on the whole, were prepared to wait for the train. Nicely too. It must be said though that a double frisk of this muppet of a man on the way in was considered rather excessive.
This was a day on which the searching release ball out to Antonio dwindled in effectiveness as the afternoon drew on. Perhaps this game and performance acts as a useful reminder to all concerned: promotion is something gained over the course of the season and not the opening eight games.