Reference is often made to a 'typical Championship game', without really defining what constitutes such a thing. In many ways, last night's fare was as close to what most people's idea of one might be. Lots of hurly-burly until the battle was lost and indeed won, punctuated by the odd moment of quality in amongst numerous instances of the ball pinging around like a demented pinball.
The jet-heeled Benny Osborn rattled the post early on but this was as good as it got for Forest in the opening exchanges and although Dorus De Vries had little to do, the away side looked sharpish on the break. Jon Toral Keith Houchened a goal on 24 minutes. What followed then was a bit of a weird five minutes in which some sections of the home fans got themselves proper worked up into a right old fluster and shouted numerous pieces of advice towards the home dugout. The tension was eased somewhat thanks to Matt Mills' goal on 30 minutes. The defender is now just one goal behind top scorer Nelson Oliveira after netting his fifth of the season.
It seems that the source of the frustration was the omission of Oliver Burke after his startling performance on Saturday against QPR. It didn't help matters that Ryan Mendes and Oliveira were having one of those evenings reminiscent of when you pour the boiling hot water in the tea-pot in anticipation of a lovely cup of tea only to realise that the remnants of the previously made pot of tea still lurk menacingly within, thus ensuring that the only way out of such a frustrating situation is to pour away the contents and start from scratch. Grrr.
On numerous occasions, the ball zipped around in the midfield area - not on the floor but in the air - resulting in countless heartily contested balls. Robert Tesche and David Vaughan gradually imposed their superiority in this area of the field but up front, it simply wasn't happening, resulting in both Mendes and Oliveira kicking and lashing out at their markers - part frustration at their own performance and part frustration in the referee's downright odd decisions: a view shared by both sets of supporters. In truth, Mr Mark Brown blew up on the trivial matters and failed to do so on the obvious ones, resulting in cat-kicking allover the place.
This culminated in the dismissal of David Vaughan on 73 minutes for a raised foot to chest height that connected with Clayton Donaldson's stooped head. Vaughan seemed to pull out and immediately apologised. Donaldson's team mates appeared to accept the apology and seemed to be looking to get on with the free kick while Donaldson rolled around like a participant enjoying a bout of holy-poly at national level. In the context of the game, there were many more serious offences than this, making the decision seem odd and at the same time illustrating how Mr Brown appeared to lose his decision compass as the evening progressed. Vaughan looked in need of an awkward man hug as he trudged off distraught. The club will appeal the decision.
Reports of Mr Brown brandishing a yellow card to a supporter outside of the ground as they raised their foot to rest on a low wall in order to tie their shoelace are as yet unsubstantiated.
At the same time, Mr Brown can't be held responsible for the lack of Forest's cutting edge in the final third. Credit is due to the team for the character it showed in remaining resolute and defiant in the face of a Birmingham team looking to bruise their way to victory: Eric Lichaj was excellent and debutant Bojan Jokic bore more than a passing resemblance to Daniel Pinillos - it seems like we can all breath easy regarding this position again. This team is certainly quite difficult to beat but at the same time, is finding it increasingly difficult to drag its sorry ass over the line, leaving Freedman with a win ratio of 32.6%.
The signing of a new striker might not necessarily be the answer to such attacking shortcomings. After all, chances are at a premium and far from flowing willynilly. Furthermore, the pairing of Chris O'Grady and Oliveira was effective and something approaching free scoring a mere month ago. Nonetheless, the creative spark appears to have dropped well and truly into the murky depths of a grimy sofa.
Let's hope it is retrieved soon. Saturday would be nice.
*This piece has been amended. A previous stat regarding Freedman's win ratio turned out to be a bit duff.