Given the wave of positivity enveloping the club at the moment, one could easily be forgiven for thinking that progression to the next round of the League Cup had been secured on Wednesday night. Just to be clear, it wasn’t. But this trivial fact was not allowed to get in the way of a bucketful of plus points to spill over from an evening at White Hart Lane.
Logic dictated that if our reserve side could give a multi million pound Premier League team one hell of a scare, then the boys from Brighton, struggling to put together a run of form under Sami Hyypia, would be swatted away with ease, especially with Britt Assombalonga and his chums returning to action, itching to give young Turks like Jorge Grant a lesson on how to do it week-in, week-out in the hurly-burly of The Championship.
Oh, logic. Go scurry back to some dusty old mathematical textbook on the top shelf of a stockroom. You are not wanted around these parts.
Preparations were hampered somewhat with David Vaughan requiring a Mr. Bump plaster for a graze sustained during the warm-up. Maybe it’s time to start thinking about contacting Barry Fry to do his thing in each corner of the City Ground pitch, just in case there is some sort of injury curse that requires dispelling. This meant that super little Benny Osborn was required to remove his tracksuit and purposefully run up and down for the duration of the game.
This he did…diligently too. It’s just that the collective performance lacked a sense of urgency, seemingly unable to get close enough to the Brighton back line in order to cut off their neat interplay at source. Indeed, both teams moved the ball out from the back admirably, to the extent that each team took their turn in penning the other in their own half while probing away to find a small chink in the opposing defence, but to no avail.
For Brighton, Craig Mackail-Smith was his usual nuisance self in his buzzing away up front, like a prototype Paul Dickov, but without the annoyance factor…and the goals. The former Peterborough striker didn’t just play on the shoulder of the Forest defence, he played five yards beyond this, resulting in his being persistently caught offside. He wasn’t just born offside; he was conceived there too.
Although Osborn and Robert Tesche were tidier than a pair of classroom tidy monitors, they lacked the incision provided by Andy Reid. Henri Lansbury chose to turn in one of his poorest performances we have witnessed in a Forest shirt. The same could perhaps be said for Assombalonga too. But this needn’t be cause for alarm; it happens from time to time and players of their quality will rarely play this far below par again. To be fair to Britt, he was often isolated up front and was marshalled effectively by Gordon Greer.
Two successive blanks should not be cause for concern; or at least if it is, it should be tempered by the fact of two successive clean sheets. It should be kept in mind that the team is still adjusting to the loss of Andy Reid and Chris Cohen. The form of Michael Mancienne and Kelvin Wilson has rendered Jack Hobbs’ injury a minor irritant, rather than the body blow it might have been. A playmate for Britt in the shape of Matty Fryatt is also denying the team an alternative when things aren’t quite working as they should.
A win at Wigan Athletic would make us all feel a whole lot better though.
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