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Forest much improved as they take Toon to the wire – Nottingham Forest 3-4 Newcastle United AET

Wednesday 21st September 2011
After an embarrassing and humiliating defeat to Derby County at the weekend, this League Cup 3rd Round tie against unbeaten Newcastle United was a ‘nothing to lose, a lot to gain' sort of fixture, where they aimed to restore some pride.

Both sides made changes ahead of the fixture, with Newcastle playing a largely second string side, while Forest mixed things up a bit, notably, Marcus Tudgay started in attack. A big boost for Newcastle was the return of midfielder Hatem Ben Arfa, who has been out since suffering from a broken leg in October of last year. Another notable starter for Newcastle was ex-Red James Perch.

The game started fairly slowly, with lots of exchanges of possession with neither team managing to work any shooting opportunities. Lewis McGugan, back in the squad having only made the bench against Derby, drove in a fierce corner, but Robbie Findley, also getting back in the starting 11, couldn't get a flick.

Newcastle then showed their ability on the break, as Ben Arfa picked out a fantastic ball with the outside of his left foot to Sylvain Marveaux. Camp was indecisive when it came to rushing from his goal line, but he stayed put, and Marveaux was stopped by a fantastic tackle from Brendan Moloney.

Newcastle then began to get a grip on the game, this time Ben Arfa fed through Peter Lovenkrands, but the Dane's shot was tame and easily gathered by Camp. Ben Arfa was relishing being back on the football pitch and his mazy run, skipping passed 2 or 3 Forest players before playing in Danny Guthrie, but his shot was closed down.

Marveaux was finding acres of space on the left flank, with Brendan Moloney not getting tight enough to his man, and he was again played in by the impressive Ben Arfa, but Robbie Findley tracked back excellently to win back the ball after a poor touch from the Frenchman.

Marveaux then exploited the amount of space he was being given when he whipped in a perfect cross into the box, Wes Morgan couldn't reach the ball to head clear, but Peter Lovenkrands, hovering behind Morgan, leapt to head home into the far corner passed Lee Camp. In a fairly boring first half, Newcastle had been in control and were good value for their 1-0 lead.

At half time there was a very short and mumbled mention for Brian Clough. Tuesday was the 7th anniversary of his passing and I, and I'm sure every other Forest fan, was very disappointed there was no acknowledgement of the date before the match in the form of a minutes applause or silence. There were also no black armbands worn by the players.

However, Forest started very brightly in the second half and were back on level terms in the 46th minute. A Lee Camp goal kick found Robbie Findley, who brought down the ball well, turned and was invited to shoot by the Newcastle defence. The American obliged and fired in a fierce low shot into the corner of Rob Elliot's goal.  Findley, and a few members of the team ran towards the bench and performed the famous ‘rocking baby' celebration to Luke Chambers, who just two hours earlier, had become a Father for the first time.

Whatever Steve McClaren said at half time, it certainly worked, as Forest pushed on after their goal and went onto dominate the second half. After a clever nutmeg, Lewis McGugan skipped passed Danny Simpson, before seeing his shot blocked well by Shane Ferguson.

Greening then found Tudgay, who spread the ball well out wide, and a cross-cum-shot from Brendan Moloney went just over. Matt Derbyshire was next to threaten the Newcastle goal with two efforts from tight angles. Marcus Tudgay may have found himself in front of goal after a through ball from midfield, but his touch let him down on the slippery surface.

But Newcastle are a strong side, and they were able to fashion chances of their own, most notably Marveaux, whose dipping volley from a Wes Morgan clearance flew just over. Lovenkrands then had a great chance on his left foot following some excellent work from Ben Arfa, but he again couldn't muster any power in his shot, and Lee Camp easily gathered.

McGugan then showed his class, running passed Dan Gosling before getting into the Newcastle box, but with no options available to him, his left foot shot was saved by Rob Elliot. You could see Forest were playing with more hunger and passion than on Saturday afternoon, which is what was desperately needed.

Forest's hard work was undone though on the hour mark. The ball was spread out wide to Marveaux, again in masses of  space, knocked the ball passes Moloney first time as he attempted to recover his position. But the damage was done as Marveaux galloped into the box, and was pulled down by the right back. While Marveaux went down softly, there was contact and referee Lee Mason (who in my opinion had a poor night for both sides), pointed to the spot. Lovenkrands stepped up to take it and placed the ball into Lee Camps right hand corner. The Northern Ireland keeper did manage to parry the ball onto the post, but the ball was slightly too high to get a full palm on it.

But 6 minutes later, Forest were back on terms again. Jonathan Greening dispossessed Mehdi Abeid, and the ball fell kindly for Matt Derbyshire. His first touch took the ball round Elliot, and his second was to side foot confidently home into the open net. It was a fantastically calm finish and Forest had pegged Newcastle back for the second time.

Before there were any more real incidents, Dan Gosling, Ben Arfa and Peter Lovenkrands came off, and were replaced by Sammy Ameobi, Shola Ameobi and Gabriel Obertan. For Forest, Radi Majewski came on for the again impressive Guy Moussi, while Ishmael Miller came on for Matt Derbyshire.

Marveaux had yet more chances to whip in some crosses, but they were consistently beaten away by Wes Morgan and Joel Lynch, who had a very strong came at centre half.

Then, there was a slightly controversial incident. There seemed to be a bit of a spat between Shola Ameobi and Joel Lynch. After exchanging words, the Newcastle striker seemed to raise his hands and push Lynch in the face. The Forest fans spotted this, and, by letter of the law, Ameobi should have been off, but he escaped unpunished. I presume none of the officials spotted it.

Andy Reid then came on for McGugan, and in the 4 minutes of stoppage time, both teams tried to force a winner, but good defending from both sides and after strong backing from the Forest fans, both sides held on to take the tie into extra time.

Unfortunately, after a terrific, spirited performance in the second half, Forest went behind yet again. Danny Simpson found the ball on the right and his cross looped over Lee Camp and into the far corner. It was a cruel bit of luck for Forest who had played so well and showed some real character.

But Forest weren't going to give in. Immediately from the restart, an Andy Reid free kick found the head of Joel Lynch, but his header crashed into the underside of the bar and was cleared.

Into the second half of extra time, and Andy Reid has a low effort saved by Elliot. Newcastle were hanging onto the ball, but Forest were pressing hard.

A poor pass from Obertan was collected by Chris Gunter, but he let the ball get away from him. He then lost out in a 50/50 challenge, but Ameobi could only shoot over the bar.

Robbie Findley then found space inside the Newcastle half and after a crucial slip from Danny Simpson, Ishmael Miller collected the ball and galloped into the Newcastle box. After great persistence and a battle with the impressive James Perch, he drilled the ball into Marcus Tudgay, who from 2 yards out, couldn't miss. Forest had shown remarkable determination to come from behind for a third time in the game.

The lively Sammy Ameobi made some confident runs down both flanks, but couldn't work clear cut shooting opportunities. After his cross was claimed by Lee Camp, Forest broke at speed. Findley found the ball in the Newcastle half, and played in Marcus Tudgay. He flicked the ball over the sprawling James Perch, and hit a first time volley on the turn but it flew over, although it was a very impressive effort.

However, Forest wouldn't be heading for a second League Cup penalty shootout. Marveaux was brilliantly closed down by a cluster of Forest men, but Obertan then got the ball on the left, and crossed to the far post for Newcastle captain Babricio Coloccinito head passed Lee Camp in the 122nd minute. Unfortunately, it looked like it had been coming and seemed rather typical. Despite a low left footed effort from Majewski at the very end of the game, Newcastle won the game 4-3.

Despite the loss, the performance was extremely encouraging. It was more important that Forest played well, even if they weren't going to progress, and they certainly did that. They showed grit and character to come from behind 3 times against a team who have yet to lose this season, and sit in the top 4 of the Premier League.

If, and at the moment, that is still a big if, Forest can really kick on from this display and duplicate the level of performance, they will certainly start to pick up wins and climb the table. Let's hope that we start on Saturday afternoon away at Watford.

 

Men of the Match: Robbie Findley. I thought he had a fantastic game. He took his goal extremely well, but other than that, he was creative, strong in the air and he never stopped running. He also helped out a many occasions in defence, covering for his full backs. It was a very strong display from the American.

Joel Lynch . I'd also like to give him a mention. He's really seized his opportunity after a great display against Derby. As I remember, he didnt lose a single header, even against the height of Shola Ameobi. He was unlucky not to grab a goal and he's really staking a claim for a starting place, and he certainly deserves one I think.

Written by James Bolton

Follow me on Twitter - @Bolton0301
James Bolton

Total articles: 29

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