Initially, this wet dog dirty day didn't hold much promise.
The recent international break and a pinball wizard of a 97th minute concession down in Brentford robbed Forest of the momentum awarded by that Friday night victory against Derby County all those many moons ago. Such is the lot of a down on its heels modern football club.
When the chips are down, it is part of the human condition to retreat to the familiar. A 4-4-2 formation was employed with Ryan Mendes and oddly, Ben Osborn on the wing with a cumbersome strike partnership of Nelson Oliveira and Chris O'Grady. Like cinnamon sprinkled on porridge, it shouldn't work but it wholeheartedly did.
Vydra's early goal had the home crowd looking around in puzzlement at the absence of an offside flag but deep down, they probably recognised it to be exactly the type of goal that is conceded by Forest these days: chaotic, avoidable and frankly, a bit odd.
Pre-game predictions of the first goal being vital to the ultimate outcome were then torn asunder as O'Grady set about scoring a typical O'Grady goal - well, it could be legitimately described as thus were there a broader frame of reference but a miserly 3 goals in his last forty five appearances narrows the field somewhat. In his defence, he scored one and set another one up today so fair's fair. The goal itself was greeted with perhaps the most underwhelming and confused reaction at the City Ground since Nicky Eaden attempted to run down the right wing. Reading stopper, Ali Al-Habsi, executed a very presentable impersonation of a dad allowing his 3 year old son to score a goal past him the back garden, meaning that when the ball eventually did trickle across the line, the net result was relief mixed with shock and a dollop of embarrassment.
The goal which put Forest in the ascendancy was a thing of beauty. Spring-heeled Ryan Mendes broke with the ball from the edge of his own penalty area following a clearance from a Reading corner. Initially, it seemed that the best he could do would be to hold the ball up since support was lacking and he'd headed towards a bit of a blind alley. Nonetheless, he looked up and saw support coming his way and his pass found Nelson Olivieira on the edge of the box. Like a window cleaner gazing up at the gherkin building at 7.00am on a cold, wintry day, he still had a lot to do though. No matter as he fashioned himself some space and leathered the ball into the far corner. His celebration was a beauty too as he ran like the wind to direct his joy towards someone in the Peter Taylor Stand. It all got a bit embarrassing for a moment as there was a danger he would utterly neglect to shake the hand of Mendes in acknowledgement for his role in the goal. Fortunately for dressing room harmony, he eventually gave him a big bear hug of a cuddle.
From then on, Forest looked reasonably comfortable; generally keeping a disappointing Reading team at arm's length. Early in the second half, O’Grady crossed from the left to provide Oliveira with a lovely opportunity to double his goals tally for the season – which he promptly did. Three goals in a home league game…some kind of sorcery was at play here. The last time such a thing occurred was when Emile Heskey lined up in defence for Bolton in February, Given such circumstances, there are solid grounds for such an event not to actually legitimately count.
Twitchiness levels were ratcheted up with the brandishing of a second yellow card in the direction of Jack Hobbs. This meant that Forest dropped deeper in an effort to hit Reading on the counter attack – a ploy that perhaps should have seen more reward as chances continued to be created. The feeling lingered though that were the Royals to get one back, it would be game over for Forest given their reality bending ability to concede late goals. Fortunately, this Reading team is on a bit of a dreadful run of their own, coinciding with manager Steve Clarke’s flipflopping around the place like a small boy in the midst of a game of piggy in the middle. Reading fans are most displeased about this.
As for Forest, with a starting pair of O’Grady and Oliveira up front, fears of an utter and complete lack of pace in attack went unrealised – or at least were masked – by Ben Osborn’s superb support play. Consistent and industrious, the ball stuck to him and he headed forward each and every time he received it. Likewise Mendes and such brave play meant that the strikers weren’t simply reduced to trying to chase long balls, as was the case at Sheffield Wednesday.
Further positives came in the shape of Michael Mancienne taking the field as a late substitute and the news that Chris Cohen is kicking a ball around the training ground again. On the downside, the attendance was relatively low – 18,128 – and this was a poor performance from a Reading team.
It’s been a long time since Forest chalked up a victory on a Saturday – 12th September against QPR – and so it is to be enjoyed. None of that silly talk of surging towards the play offs, please. Dispense with your visions of what will happen once we get Cohen, Assombalonga, Fryatt and Reid on the pitch, thank you. Save all that for if and when the team can string together a few consecutive wins. On doing so, feel free to indulge in all manner of crazy talk.