Back in the day, it was customary to bring in some sort of game from home on the last day of school before you broke up for the summer. The classroom, aglow like a sweet shop, would emit a constant din of shouts, arguments and white noise that only board games can produce. The incessant, rapid fire din of plastic on plastic that only Hungry Hippos can produce, the crescendo of noise that only Mousetrap stimulates and the wailing of some kid whose game has been commandeered by some rough ne’er-do-wells who ‘forgot’ to bring anything in. Nonetheless, amongst all of the carnage, all were happy and reveling in the end of term party atmosphere.
We’re not quite there yet but this fixture had more than a whiff of party time about it, at least from Forest’s perspective. The Play-Off train had well and truly pulled out of the station after successive defeats to Norwich City and Wolves, meaning that the remaining fixtures can be approached with a degree of devil-may-care. Besides, it’s always good to spoil someone else’s party. If that sounds mean, think of the times when our party has been well and truly spoiled by some meanies with nothing to play for. Of course, for Brentford, this is not the case, as they remain one of the cars competing in the Whacky Races that is this years’ race for the Championship title and Play-Off places.
It was surprising to learn that Brentford enjoyed 33 goal attempts and a Barcelonaesque 70% possession. The Bees did what they do: close, neat control, lots of possession in their opponent’s half and constantly on the prowl for that killer through ball. But that was fine and dandy since it felt relatively comfortable for the most part. Sure, Karl Darlow was called upon on more than one occasion and Kelvin Wilson played as if he was carrying a fridge but it was kind of fun watching the home crowd grow a tad frustrated at their team’s labours. Maybe it was the lack of pressure surrounding the game for the visitors that contributed to this relaxed perspective but it was certainly one shared by the majority of away supporters as they entertained themselves during the second half with a rundown of classic chants in honour of former players from days of yore. Brian Rice got a shout out, as did Steve Stone and Jason Lee. It would have been nice to have heard the often overlooked ‘ooh aah, Franz Carr’ but maybe next time.
Having lost Chuba Akpom to injury, Tyler Walker took the field to lead the line. A prolific scorer at youth level and now enjoying cameo appearances here and there for the first team, it gives us a big warm hug type feeling to see him scampering around. And then, in the week that his old man’s single solitary goal was recognized and celebrated, young Tyler equaled Des’ goal record with a neatly taken strike. Cue pandemonium on the terraces.
Shortly after, Walker was hooked for, oddly, Todd Kane, with Michail Antonio striding up top to add a bit of ballast to Forest’s forward line. The Reds (bedecked in blue, obviously) played the whole ‘hit them on the break’ card expertly as super Benny Osborn broke free down the left and sent an inviting ball over for Kane to stab home. This was all quite a lot of fun – in fact, as satisfying as winning a game of Connect Four against that kid you don’t really like, and never have done.
But this is Forest in 2014-15 and just when you dare to think that it’s all going to be pretty good, they contrive to make it feel as if some rough kid has thrown your game of Frustration out of the window after breaking the weird dice roller thing in the middle. Andre Gray squeezed a shot though Kelvin Wilson into the bottom corner and in the 95th minute, Jota nodded in from close range. Maybe Wilson and Darlow will feel they could have done better with each goal but in truth, the deep defensive line was probably more to blame for the loss of maximum points. Toumani Diagouraga was excellent throughout for the Bees who breathed a sigh of relief at garnering a point that keeps them in the hunt for a Play-Off place.
Ultimately, the fact that the spoils were shared after a two-goal lead meant that a tinge of disappointment was felt. But seeing young Tyler Walker do what he did was a special moment and alongside the likes of Jorge Grant and Ben Osborn, reminds us where hope lies for this football club while it sits on the FFP naughty step.
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