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Match report: Charlton 2-1 Forest

A frustrating evening at the Valley, but Nick Miller can't feel too annoyed about Forest's first loss since Dougie Freedman took over...

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Well, that was frustrating.

The brilliant start under Dougie Freedman had to end at some point, and it was probably for the best that it all came to a crashing halt away at Charlton rather than somewhere more painful.

If Charlton Athletic was a man, he'd be an amiable chap, at various points a little down on his luck but generally keeping that upper lip as stiff as possible. Maybe not a close pal but the sort that you'd never be sad to see down your local. And the Valley's a good place to watch football, old enough not to feel sterile, new enough not to be a rickety old shambles, ‎the sense that the fans are still genuinely happy to be there and have their own home after the ground's history evident.

So they're a difficult team to dislike, and thus a team difficult to get excessively cross about losing to. Unless you'd watched the game, of course. In which case you'd be incredibly cross. ‎Well, not cross quite so much, just incredibly frustrated. Because it's not as if Forest played particularly badly, just that everything we tried was just a little bit off. Passes were half a yard the wrong way, clearances not quite clear enough, shots just wide.

Henri Lansbury gave the ball away carelessly as many times as he played one of those delicious purring passes, Benny Osborn looks like he could do with a really long bubble bath and Matty Fryatt displayed that he really isn't a proper lone forward. This was the first game since his injury when Britt Assombalonga was properly missed, and not just due to lack of goals - there were moments when his runs into channels or strength holding up the ball were desperately required.

At times it appeared that the only plan was to give the thing to Michail Antonio and see if he could barrel through the defence, which worked a couple of times - of course once for his goal, a textbook Antonio strike, cutting in from the left and battering the ball home - but in the second half Guy Luzon (by a distance the most animated touchline manager in the division, surely - at one point he went up for a header, and not in a Fergie, jab the bonce forward way, but a genuine leap three feet from the turf) brought on a more defensive right winger in Chris Eagles to double up on him. This, quite obviously, stymied the main threat, and without a proper centre-forward or some belting long-rangers the attacking menace was...well, not terribly menacing.

It's not as if Dougie didn't try to get creative, either. He made positive substitutions and with enough time remaining for them to have an impact, and given that Forest finished the game in a 3-2-5 formation, with Dexter Blackstock, Lars Veldweijk and Jamaal Lascelles up top, you can hardly accuse him of not going for it, after Plan A didn't work. You could quibble with a few decisions, like removing Lansbury rather than Osborn and only switching Antonio to the right for the last few minutes, but it would be churlish to blame this one on the Dougie.

The game basically hinged on a couple of pieces of terrible defending. Lascelles conceded a free-kick with an absurdly pointless lunge on the edge of his own box, a free-kick which Frederic Bulot duly clipped over the wall and past a grasping Karl Darlow. And for the second assorted players were allowed too much space in the box - as much space as they wanted, really - most crucially Bulot who slotted home in the manner of a man who would've felt rude not to take up such an obliging invitation.

It's not as if Charlton attacked convincingly with any great frequency, certainly not after the opening 15 or so minutes, but when they did they looked like they'd score every time. Tony Watt and Igor Vetokele were lively threats, the former twisting the blood of both centre-backs on a few occasions, and both men were unlucky not to score. It's for this reason, but not this reason alone, that the Danny Collins experiment must surely end - him nervously edging around on the pitch while Michael Mancienne froze his cods off on the bench was irritating, to say the least. Also, while the increasingly poor distribution of Danny Fox might sound like a work of Victorian fiction, it is actually a piece of modern fact, and must be halted, in one way or another, post-haste.

So this isn't the end of the world. Forest lost, but played OK with just a few things here or there wrong, and after 19 goals and 16 points from the previous six games, it's tough to be too annoyed.

You can bet plenty will manage it, though.