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Match report: Ipswich 2-1 Forest

Don't worry. It'll all be over soon. Nick Miller went to Ipswich despite all sense pointing the other way...

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Regular and shrewd readers will have spotted this site is about Nottingham Forest. Almost exclusively, in fact. Actually, entirely exclusively. However, we'll spend the first few lines about this talking about Ipswich. You can skip down to the third paragraph if you aren't fussed about them.

Ipswich are, as you probably know, chasing a playoff spot, with Mick McCarthy having dragged them up on  a budget of three lollipop sticks, some bubblegum and Luke Varney. And they've picked up some crucial wins in recent weeks too, which gave them a puncher's chance of making the top six, and this win meant only a calamity on the final day will deny them. But boy they looked nervous. Both fans and players were tense throughout, even the first goal seemingly not relaxing them, and they played accordingly, barely able to string a decent attack together, or at least one with any fluidity, in any case. If they play like this in the playoffs, rather more nervy occasions than a home game against a team whose season ended a few weeks ago, then they barely stand a chance.

Anyway, with that out of the way, to Forest. The whole atmosphere was slightly curious in the away end at Portman Road, as was the team selection: curious, because while the season had been done and dusted for a little while, both the starting XI and the noise levels still very much suggested Forest had something to play for. Dougie Freeman continued with a loose 4-3-3 formation with Chuba Akpom and Michail Antonio flanking Dexter Blackstock, while David Vaughan played at the base of midfield.

One does wonder about these things. Unless Dougie is so utterly fair-minded that he cannot bear to disrespect the competition and play a less than 'full-strength' side, this is surely a time to experiment, or look to the future a little more. Of course, the youths have been busy recently, but one wonders why players like Tyler Walker, Oliver Burke, Jorge Grant and Dimi Evtimov haven't been given more of a chance.

Freedman might be understandably cautious about throwing them in too soon, but what more low-pressure time to play them than in games at the end of the season that don't matter? Even a nervous Grant, while a different sort of player, surely could not have done a worse job than Vaughan, who was utterly rotten, while next season's goalkeeping situation is uncertain to say the least, so why not give Evtimov a go in place of Karl Darlow, who won't be here? And Walker has been with the first team for about a month now, but has to feed on the scraps of ten-minute cameos - how is his development going to improve with that? The continued selection of Akpom, who it looks like can go in the Tom Ince/Nathanial Chalobah bin labelled 'Clearly Talented But Have Been Pish At Forest.' As fellow In The Top Oner David Marples noted, Olivier Giroud can probably rest easy if he's been watching Akpom play for Forest.

As for the game...well, it was a giant shrug from Forest's perspective. Not that we can really complain too much, since the 1,000 or so of us who went along knew exactly what would be in store. Freedman's insistence that Michael Mancienne is anything but a central defender was demonstrated to be squiffy at best, as he performed...indeterminately, at best, at right-back. He was fine, but everything about him screamed 'I AM NOT A RIGHT-BACK', from his positioning to his natural reaction when he gets the ball with some space in front of him, he doesn't run into it but instead either passes sideways or looks for a long ball. You know, like a centre-back would.

Benny Osborn played some nice passes and swung over the cross from which Christophe Berra briefly lost control of his limbs and was saw one of them divert the ball into the net. The celebrations from the Forest players - a bit confused, slightly embarrassed, not really knowing what on earth to do - were entirely appropriate.

So there it is. It'll all be over soon. Then we can get on with the serious business of getting our hopes up over the summer and thinking everything will be different next season.

Man, that was a bleak ending. Here's a joke to cheer you up instead.