clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Fulham 1-3 Forest

In a week that has been a throwback to the good old days, this was a performance reminiscent of the good old days.

Dan Mullan/Getty Images

It's been an emotional week to be a Forest fan.

You've probably spent the week shrugging your shoulders and staring longingly into the middle distance when faced with that steady stream of questions from friends, family and civilians asking for your thoughts on the identity of the next Forest manager.

As the week wore on though, you saw something that reminded you why you fell for this scamp of a football club in the first place. You may well have needed to excuse yourself in order to scoop a microscopic particle of rheum or gound from the corner of your eye.

Once composed, you may well have started banging your fists on the ground and tossing the posh crockery acrimoniously around the kitchen in a fit of pique, railing at the injustice of it all that things are currently the way they are while cursing the great god Chronos for not once, just once, allowing you to travel back to those glorious moments to relive and savour them just that little bit longer.

It's possible you may have listened to Colin Cooper speak about his continuing love for the club on Thursday evening at the Southbank Bar on Trent Bridge and smiled inwardly at the achievements of the club in the mid 90s.

It's likely you saw 17 men who alongside Mr Clough, Mr Taylor and Mr Gordon forged the worldwide reputation of this club chat about those glorious times between 1975 and 1980. You may well have given a certain Martin O'Neill an extra special applause and cheer when he took the stage at the Theatre Royal on Friday evening.

And then you faced up to a trip to Fulham for at best, a battle for 17th place in the second tier of English football.

Maybe you steeled yourself for a disappointing outcome and vowed to not allow the actual football to spoil a day out.

For once, such mental preparation was unnecessary.

From the start, there seemed to be a hunger about the team with forward movement, players getting into positions to receive passes and a determination not to trip over their own feet and end up sprawled on the floor in an undignified manner.

This culminated in a special goal from Robert Tesche - a goal forged in the white hot Mordoresque fire spewing mouth of the training ground. It exhibited forethought, organisation, planning and perhaps more importantly, someone on the end of it who put the round thing into the corner of the net. Lift-off.

But what was this? A penalty? The possibility of another goal? Away from home? In the same half? Tesche was bundled over in the corner of the box and Henri Lansbury buried the penalty with élan.

This was shaping up to be a good week.

On the touchline, Paul Williams was feeling the nip of the cold wind that whipped from the Thames yards behind him: he elected to seek comfort and warmth in the relatively safe refuge of the dugout. Not Gary Brazil though. He was the one issuing instructions to the players and doing weird hand gestures with fingers raised in the air as if to denote players should swap positions or mark someone or just run around more.

One could be forgiven for thinking that Gary Brazil was coaxing out a performance from the players, that Gary Brazil was behind this new found sense of organisation.

Confidence was flowing and Chris Cohen tried his luck from the halfway line after spotting Marcus Bettinelli off his line. His shot hovered just over.

Then Danny Fox tried the same. Not many people noticed. It went miles wide.

Fulham weren't done yet though. Besides, they had Ross McCormack and when you've got Ross McCormack and he's playing against Forest, chances are you'll score a goal. He knows this. Forest fans know this too. This explains the cheers of relief when his free kick seemingly headed wide. Those cheers turned to a collective groan as his shot bounced back off the post - yet back again to cheers when the ball was cleared - all in the space of two seconds.

The Cottagers pulled one back thanks to a towering far post header from Matt Smith, straight out of the Dexter Blackstock manual. A classic Forest collapse was looming large on the horizon.

But this performance was built not on sand but determination - epitomised by Chris Cohen. Obviously.

At one stage in the second half, Cohen surged forward in an effort to support the attack. This in itself was surprising to see - a midfielder surging forward has been a rare sight this season. But there was something else. In doing so, he grabbed Scott Parker by the neck as frankly, he was in the way. Parker himself wasn't having any of this and they had a bit of a man wrestle. What was life-affirming about this is that neither of them fell to the floor but shrugged each other off and simply got on with their running until the move broke down. No handbags. No feigning of serious eye injuries or whiplash. Just a mutual resect for each other's desire and need to do their job. Lovely to see.

Confidence started to flow. Cohen and Lansbury started hosting their own little triangle link up play party and all were invited. Lansbury himself rounded off a flowing move down the right and the game was safe. A pair of crutches were waved in the air from the away end in celebration. This was feeling like 1989 and inflatable trees and all that once again.

Hubris reared its head in an effort to spoil things though. Carried away by a minute or so of possession and gathering 'oles', Forest indulged in a spot of keep-ball until Lansbury's pass back to Dorus de Vries put him in a spot of bother and Matt Mills intervened to whack the ball high up into the West London sky, bothering a passing aeroplane.

In truth though, this was a rare moment and you could count the number of hoofed ball up to Dexter's head on one hand only. Deploying Lansbury as a supporting striker with Cohen and Ben Osborn allowed the licence to actually advance beyond their own half gave the team an attacking intent and threat. Everyone played their part and played it well.

Even Danny Fox?

Even Danny Fox.

Admittedly, Fulham were trousers. A big lumbering pair of corduroy flairs at that. Nonetheless, Forest played with a sense of organisation, attacking intent and determination that we have sorely missed.

Whilst it's true that this was, in the whole scheme of things, an end of season battle for 17th place, a sense of pride was restored by the end of this week. We're not going to romp to the play offs, neither are we now all set for a tilt at promotion next season. But it did put a smile on faces and this was a welcome change.