Tuesday, 26 August 2008

Five goal thriller as Tricky Trees see off Hornets

Striker crisis? What striker crisis?!!

All the talk in the build up to Saturday's game was a scarcity of firepower in the Forest squad but in what must have been one of the most entertaining games at the City Ground for many years (since the Paul Hart era at least) Calderwood's charges looked pacy, creative and dangerous and emerged victorious from a hotly contested five goal thriller.

With a hungry-for-goals and impressively mature Robert Earnshaw leading an attack that was at its best when involving the wonderful wizardry of loanee Lee Martin Forest posed a bucketful of problems for Boothroyd's promotion hopefuls.

The rip roaring contest was enhanced by some smart attacking from the away team who posed a continuous threat thanks to the scheming inventive play from Tommy Smith and ex-City Ground loan signing Will Hoskins behind Grzegorz Rasiak and towards the end fellow giant Tamas Priskin.

The excitement kick-started with a wonderful long range goal from the mercurial Martin which was perfectly curled beyond the despairing Poom. Watford hit back with an opportunistic poke home from Smith but Earnshaw restored the advantage when he latched on to Moussi's superb through ball to fire home his first league goal in the Garibaldi. It was chief tormentor Smith who equalised for the Hornets, ghosted onto Doyley's low cross but fit again sub Nathan Tyson was in the right place at the right time to poke home the winner after Earnshaw's brilliant free kick struck an upright.

If every City Ground game this season can be this exciting (and this succesful) it's going to be a hell of a season!

Player ratings -

Paul Smith - 7
Made a great save in the build up to his namesake's first goal and was unfortunate not to smother his follow up attempt. The distribution from goal kicks needs working on but that is not just incumbent on Smudger - sometimes I feel full backs and midfielders should drop deep and receive the ball to help start passing attacking play because of a lack of aerial options.

Luke Chambers - 5
Almost rescued his rating with a good late saving tackle but is still off the Championship pace. Unsteady in the air and not assured on the ball he looks to have found the step up difficult and is no longer able to attack as effectively as last year.

Julian Bennett - 7
Offered an outlet on the left when going forward and although was troubled by a tricky Hornets attack gave a typically committed display.

Ian Breckin - 8
The club skipper stepped into the side effortlessly and while less stylish on the ball than Wilson did all the 'bread and butter' defending well.

Wes Morgan -8
Strong stuff again from Wes who seemed to relish the battle with beanpole Rasiak.

James Perch - 8
I'm racking my brains to think of a mistake he made in midfield. Tackling was top drawer and played a countless number of simple but effective short passes as well as one wonderfully weighted one that Tyson nearly converted into a fourth goal. Last year Julian Bennett went from zero at the start of the season to player of the year, it's too early to say Perch will do that but he's certainly looking like a surprise package. Up yours boo boys!!

Guy Moussi - 7
Occasionally sloppy when trying to over elaborate but Moussi was once again an immense presence in the middle of the park. Played a great ball for the second goal and spreads the play delightfully.

Chris Cohen - 6
Was off colour in the first half and looked as though he was struggling to keep up with the frenetic pace. Put too many passes astray and was not forceful enough in the tackle to win enough of the ball but got better as the game wore on and cannot be faulted for his workrate and ability to play neat balls out of tight situations.

Garath McCleary - 6
It has been a massive step up from non league to the Championship and it showed with a few heavy touches at times. He does show plenty of signs of promise however and will use this experience to continue his development. Worked hard and deserves to be perservered with ahead of Arron Davies who looked lost when given his opportunity against Reading.

Lee Martin - 8
Looks a fabulous talent and CC would do well to start begging Ferguson now for a permanent deal. Ran at the defence and twisted and turned to carve a host of openings. In the second half should have perhaps manufactured another goal from one of three attacks involving himself and Earnshaw but with his glorious goal and tireless running was a key factor in the eventual victory.

Robert Earnshaw - 8
Was bought to pounce on any chances going in the box and showed his predatory prowess by racing onto Moussi's through ball to fire home ahead of the onrushing Poom. Has also impressed with his maturity in acting as a senior figure in this young side and was unlucky not to score a second after his curling free kick hit the post.

Opposition -
Poom, Doyley, Sadler, Bromby, DeMerit, McAnuff (Hoskins), Eustace, Williamson (Francis), Harley (Priskin), Smith, Rasiak.

Bootroyd's men contributed to a thrilling encounter on Trentside and will be disappointed to go away empty handed after twice clawing their way back into the game.

The way this league is it is hard to say how good a victory against Watford is. Last year they were firmly in the promotion mix but after a summer of changes at Vicarage Road some have predicted more of a struggle this time around - only time will tell if they are right but they came to the City Ground having not conceded a goal, something not to be forgotten when assessing how potent the Forest attack was.

Watford showed some smart attacking play and appear on paper to have a side that should be able to compete with the league's best. They seemed keen on long throws but I felt these actually negated some of their attacking momentum and they appeared more dangerous with quick throws near the end of the game which caught the Forest back line napping.

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