Thursday, 30 October 2008

Visit to the sheep beckons

Hallelujah! A win! It seems so long since the enthralling Watford victory back in August but CC and the boys and finally bagged three valuable points at Palace.

The win helps wipe out the memory of the home defeat to Warnock's charges earlier in the month and brings to an end a torrid run away from the relative comfort of the City Ground.

Barnsley's win at Doncaster meant that the victory took us off the basement for the time being but in turn meant that no ground was made towards the Holy Grail of a safe spot in the league table. That means that, still six points adrift, CC will need to hope his side can build on this result to avoid dropping perilously ten points or more away from the pack following huge tests at home to Birmingham and a tricky trip to Bristol City.

But while the points total is a concern the return to winning ways is especially timely given the season's biggest away game lies tantalisingly on the horizon. The bitter enemy awaits at the end of the A52 - let battle commence.

Derby should be strong at home, they should be featuring in the promotion reckoning and they have a strong squad. But have the weaknesses of character from the long 'laughing stock' run fully disappeared? Let's see if roly-poly Scouse boss Jewell and his Rams have the stomach for the pressure cooker atmosphere of a derby game.

To test this Forest must be tougher than they have been. Julian Bennett will be missed but the likes of Wes, Breckin, Cohen, McGugan and the impressive looking Garner through the spine of the side will have to make their presence felt. Under Kinnear in the last Prideless Park debacle Forest stood off and looked frightened to get stuck in - that cannot happen again.

Earnshaw and Garner has the makings of a tasty partnership that can cause problems and Calderwood should look to set them both loose on Sunday. Despite his professional comments to the media Earnie will surely have an added incentive to make an impact in this game - and how sweet it would be for him and us if he got the winning goal to rub the sheep bothering faithful's noses in it.

The midfield on Tuesday seemed to work well. Two out and wingers has left us open in the centre so having Cohen as one of the wide men seemed to stop us getting overran and brought out the best of Cohen - someone who had contributed little recently. It sounded a flexible set up too - with McGugan and Cohen able to interchange and McCleary with licence to roam when possible. It's likely that Perch's role will be handed back to Fletcher and Perch put back at right back - moves that should hopefully make the side more solid.

CC will hope Tuesday's excellent win will be a turning point. A defeat would wash away the optimism earned in the capital and could be devastating. However, following that up with a win at the home of the old enemy could turn the tide for him in the long term not only in terms of accumulating points at this level but cementing his own place in the City Ground hotseat.

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