Perhaps surprisingly, the deal that was dead – according to Dougie after the Burnley game – was, in fact, just dormant. So, it was say "Hello" to Liam Trotter, a first start for Jonny Williams, with the rather unfortunate Tyler Walker having to drop to the bench and of course our Henri missing through suspension. Apart from that, no other changes from the team that drew with Burnley.
As for Ipswich, well with two Forest old boys starting in the form of Chambers and McGoldrick, as well as last season’s top scorer Murphy – who hasn’t found the net so far this season – the likelihood of one or more of the aforementioned finding the onion bag seemed inevitable given our current run of fortune.
Whilst the first ten minutes of the game may not have reached a level that could be referred to as turgid, there was an inexplicable lack of spark to the whole proceedings that did not bode well. Jamie Ward was being very un-Jamie Ward-like insofar as intensity was concerned – maybe a hangover from Tuesday’s efforts – and Oliveira was wandering round with an air of petulance that did not befit him. Mind you, Ipswich weren’t any better. The crowd were lacking a bit of motivation, but that was promptly supplied by Jonny Williams as he put Mendes through with a rather spiffing pass to the right of the penalty area. Mendes flashed a shot across goal which Gerken finger-tipped to safety.
And so the onslaught began. Well, I say onslaught, what I actually mean was a perceived domination of the game through attempts at goal while relinquishing possession to the opposition in the centre of the park. Jack Hobbs continued his good run of form by commanding the defensive line and quick breaks from Mendes, ably supported by Williams and Oliveira gave Ipswich food for thought. One such break saw Mendes square a ball to Trotter who’d manfully continued his run into the box only to find his shot parried by Gerken. With Ward finding the side netting with the follow up, yet another chance went begging.
But it wasn’t for the lack of trying. Mendes was again the catalyst, this time feeding Oliveira who had all the time in the world to decide to choose power over placement and rifled his shot straight at the Ipswich keeper. Towards the end of the half it was Ward’s turn to provide and Mendes with a shot failing to find its target from a narrow angle. In fairness, there was a (kind of) penalty shout as the ball came over - Oliveira being denied the chance to jump for the ball as he was being manhandled by an Ipswich defender - but the resulting protestations were roundly ignored by the officials. It wasn’t our half where decisions were concerned, which only helped to stir the Forest faithful even more.
Another chance for Mendes just before the interval missed its intended target, so 0-0 at half time and we were in the ascendancy. Ipswich hadn’t had a shot all half. What could possibly go wrong?
We started the second half as we finished the first, as did Ipswich. Yet another cynical tackle saw a third Ipswich player enter the ref’s book and yet another attacking move was thwarted. Jamie Ward managed to fire an effort straight at their keeper (again) and moments later Ipswich had their first real chance of the game. It was a decent strike from McGoldrick and a good parry by Dorus. That the ball fell at the feet of Daryl Murphy was probably a blessing, for he could only find the side netting and his goal drought continued.
A fourth caution for a third Ipswich defender was followed by fine work from Pinillos and Vaughan, handing Trotter another chance to open his account. His resulting, thunderous effort in front of The Trent End was (unfortunately) blocked. And 5 minutes later good work from the Ipswich back line denied Oliveira any opportunity of pulling the trigger as he found himself advancing into the box. Dougie thought it was time to freshen things up on 67 minutes, so on came Jorge Grant as he replaced Jonny Williams, having pretty much run himself into the ground. We were creating a fair few opportunities up to now and it only seemed to be a matter of time before the deadlock was broken.
Which it was. By Ipswich on 75 minutes. All that dominance. All those chances. It was scant reward for all our efforts thus far and proof positive that if you don’t take them, you’ll probably regret it. With only their second real effort on goal, up stepped Parr – a 12th minute substitute for the injured Knudsen – and we were staring down the barrel of another home defeat. Cue the inevitable loss of confidence. The resulting 15 minutes descended into a battle of wills. Blackstock was brought on for Ward and with two up top we attempted to push on. Ipswich, like Middlesbrough, Hull and Burnley before them, showed their experience. As we resulted to a few more long balls, Ipswich slowed down the game and denied us time on the ball.
With time running out, Dougie resorted to three at the back, sacrificing the excellent Hobbs to bring on Chris O’Grady and changing to a 3-4-3 formation. For the last 9 minutes of the game it wasn’t pretty and until the fourth official held up a board that told us 6 minutes were to be added on, it wasn’t really effective either. But what you couldn’t deny was the endeavour. We never gave up. That Trotter was still on the pitch playing in only his second game of the season – his first was back on the opening day of the campaign – showed a herculean effort. He clearly dug deep and Dougie clearly trusted him to put in a shift. Let’s not fool ourselves, he wasn’t our best player, but he was effective. As the minutes ticked by it seemed like we could have played for 4 hours and not scored. That was until Trotter found himself in the right place at the right time. A great effort from Jorge Grant was blocked on the line and Trotter was there to poke the ball home. Oh, what a wonderful feeling! There was to be justice after all. Cue inevitable Only Fools & Horses jokes. I can’t think of one, so I won’t force it. So it finished 1-1, but with a last gasp equaliser it felt like a win.
Suffice to say, we were the better team today and didn’t deserve to lose. That Ipswich are fundamentally average and we didn’t beat them is for another discussion. There’s effort, there’s endeavour and there’s a huge amount of talent to come back from injury and bolster the squad. Patience is the key. Come on you Reds!