Date:Saturday February 7 2009
Saturday 7th February 2009
TWO defensive mistakes helped hand a depleted Nottingham Forest a hard-fought point at the City Ground.
Matteo Alberti hauled down his man in the area to give Forest an early lead from the spot - Lewis McGugan`s spot kick coolly dispatched past returning goalkeeper Lee Camp.
After the R`s had worked hard to haul themselves in front in the encounter but Camp`s poor claim from a deep cross saw Chris Cohen rise highest to nod past three beleaguered defenders on the line.
The aforementioned Alberti struck either side of half time to turn the game in Rangers favour, but the R`s can look at a couple of crucial slip ups that have cost them two points at the City Ground.
Rangers made wholesale changes from the side that drew 0-0 at home to Reading owing to injury and suspension. With Lee Cook suspended Matteo Alberti came in for his second start of the campaign while the injured Heidar Helguson was replaced with Fiorentina loanee Samuel Di Carmine.
Lee Camp retained his place against the side to whom he was on loan only a few weeks ago as Rangers kept the same defensive unit that had kept three successive clean sheets. The centre of midfield saw Mikele Leigertwood and Liam Miller link up, with Gavin Mahon screening the Rangers rearguard and in-form winger Wayne Routledge marauding the right flank.
The bench included the returning Angelo Balanta and young winger Romone Rose. With no place for deputy keeper Jake Cole, Dexter Blackstock, Fitz Hall and Hogan Ephraim filled the voids on the bench.
A decimated Forest line-up omitted several key players, with no Robert Earnshaw (hamstring) or skipper James Perch (concussion) Billy Davies had to call upon the exuberance of youth to carry him through.
There was nothing inexperienced about the front two however with big money signing Joe Garner and highly-rated forward Nathan Tyson looking to put pressure on a confident Rangers backline.
Kick Off: Nottingham Forest v Queens Park Rangers
A scrappy opening to the game saw Forest attempt to stifle proceedings with four players going down in the opening few minutes. A tough tackling Rangers side taking no prisoners in the early stages as they looked to assert a foothold on proceedings.
Quite how injured the hosts` players were is question for debate but whenever Rangers looked like they were getting up a head of steam another player would hit the deck and it would be back to square one and trying to rebuild.
Eventually the R`s eked out a chance just before the ten-minute mark with the impressive Liam Miller winning a corner in front of the boisterous travelling army from West London. Wayne Routledge swung the ball in at the near post with Kaspars Gorkss the first to react.
The Latvian international salvaged the effort and fired the ball back in from the by-line, the ball found Samuel Di Carmine who fired a rasping volley that flew goal-bound. Only a last ditch header from Brendan Maloney kept his effort out, but Matteo Alberti`s follow-up drew an equally impressive stop from Joe Heath.
The Forest young guns evidently studying the Wigan master-class in last ditch defending as the endeavour and fight of Billy Davies` troops continually kept the R`s out in the early stages.
Rangers were struggling to re-gain the sort of form that had seen them defeated only once in Paulo Sousa`s reign. Miller and Leigertwood were the industrious engine room of the Rangers line-up but wide players Alberti and Routledge were struggling to get a touch of the ball let alone get at their defensive opponent.
On two occasions Routledge let the ball roll carelessly over his foot as he could not seem to keep possession for long enough to trouble his opposing full back.
Darren Deadman was incurring the wrath of the home crowd for in all honesty no apparent reason. Rangers were getting to the ball first on two or three occasions and it seemed every inexperienced free-kick that the Tricky Trees were giving away was met with the sound of discontent from the home crowd.
Indeed every time Damion Stewart touched the ball there seemed to be a shout of handball or groans of discontent from the home crowd who were struggling to make an impact on proceedings.
All that Forest could muster in the opening 15 minutes was a wayward header by Wes Morgan from a fine corner by former West Ham United man Chris Cohen. Worse was to come for Forest as one of their main threats, Nathan Tyson, was withdrawn through injury - Adam Newbold his replacement as they looked to fill the void.
Time seemed to stand still for a moment when Mikele Leigertwood managed to carve himself out a chance from a Samuel Di Carmine cross. The former Sheffield United man flung out his boot as the ball rolled agonisingly past a stationary Paul Smith before clipping the base of the right hand upright and scurrying clear.
Gorkss was proving a classy defender at the heart of the Rangers back line. The Latvian international was distributing with such effortless class, his intelligent distribution and aerial threat being two key positives in the Rangers line-up.
It was indeed his flick on from a Wayne Routledge corner that found Gavin Mahon positioned well just inside the area. The former Watford man could only steer his diving header wide of the right hand upright when it appeared he had more time at his disposal.
The youth line-up of Nottingham Forest were by no means resigned to wilting in the face of Rangers attacks as they too mustered some chances of note. Former Carlisle United man Joe Garner burst through the Rangers midfield only to be denied by a strong challenge from Damion Stewart - once again inexplicably raising the ire of the City Ground supporters.
The game appeared to be cantering towards half time without so much of a whimper, with neither side really threatening their respective goalkeepers, but in a flash the hosts had a penalty kick and Matteo Alberti appeared the guilty party.
Lewis McGugan`s flicked effort into the heart of the box was glided towards the welcoming arms of Lee Camp. Full back Luke Chambers hadn`t given it up and surged towards the former Forest loanee - Matteo Alberti inexplicably upended the full-back, the crowd appealed as one and the linesman duly indicated the spot kick.
The aforementioned Lewis McGugan stepped up to face the keeper that had become famed for his penalty stops during his time with Forest. However the Reds youth product sent Camp the wrong way with relative ease and the hosts had the lead only a few moments from half time.
GOAL: Nottingham Forest 1-0 Queens Park Rangers
Rangers supporters were clearly disappointed at the conceded goal with the home side being kept to a bare minimum of effort preceding this incident. Di Carmine was clearly struggling in his lone striker`s role with Wes Morgan running the rule over the young Italian.
His inability to hold onto the ball was only matched by his inability to hold himself up and support from either flanks was not forthcoming. Wayne Routledge was vastly underachieving by his lofty standards down the right, with the anonymous Alberti down the left only noticeable by his moment of madness a few moments prior.
Somehow however the R`s were back on level terms, and Forest`s new found confidence was dashed in an instant by the villain of moment redeeming himself in style.
Rangers set free full back Matthew Connolly on the overlap down the right, the former Arsenal trainee fired the ball across the heart of the box that evaded everyone. Everyone that is except the onrushing Matteo Alberti who made a slight hash of his effort but it nevertheless flew through a crowd of players and into the bottom right hand corner.
GOAL: Nottingham Forest 1-1 Queens Park Rangers
It proved to be the final kick of the game as the players left the field with the Rangers fans in raptures. The surreal sight of Rangers fans in delight at an equalising goal after all the players had departed the field. Some blessing for Paulo Sousa who would have work to do in the changing room after a disappointing first period.
Half Time: Nottingham Forest 1-1 Queens Park Rangers
Sousa opted not to change the line-up for the start of the second period, with Alberti`s goal arguably saving him from the chop at half time. The young Italian hadn`t impressed in the opening period with his lack of strength and inability to take his man on and many Rangers fans, myself included, were wondering how long Sousa would persist with the former Chievo man.
How wrong I was proven, and how correct Sousa had appeared when the young left winger scored his second and Rangers second just moments after returning from the break.
Wayne Routledge set Matteo Alberti free through the middle, the young Italian doing the rest to weave in and out of his defensive opponents before clipping the ball into the top left corner of the goal.
GOAL: Nottingham Forest 1-2 Queens Park Rangers
The R`s were in the ascendancy and in good voice behind the goal as Paulo Sousa`s men began to control proceedings at the City Ground. Billy Davies evidently infuriated with his side conceding so quickly after his half time team-talk was flapping about like a fish out of water on the touch-line and the Forest fans were starting to groan at some errant long-passing.
With referee Darren Deadman appeasing the home supporters at every opportunity he failed to stop play as Samuel Di Carmine was lying in visible pain on the turf. After halting play on four occasions in the opening period for the home side he wouldn`t stop play for what appeared a serious injury.
All credit must go out to central defender Wes Morgan who fired the ball out of play with his side beginning to move forward. Di Carmine was carried off on a stretcher with a splint laid around his leg appearing motionless on the stretcher. In what was probably a planned change Sousa withdrew the Fiorentina loanee for Dexter Blackstock with Di Carmine probably playing his last game in the hoops.
Routledge was beginning to come into his own on the right flank after a period of anonymity in the first half. Forest were beginning to realise the two deadly things you could give the former Tottenham and Aston Villa winger - the ball and space.
A ball over the top found the lively forward who took the ball in his stride before firing across the target without troubling stopper Paul Smith. Smith`s confidence must have plummeted at the sound that the home crowd were cheering for the opposition goalkeeper at every opportunity.
Rangers were beginning to control the game and were also seeing the majority of the ball. Gavin Mahon pulling the strings in the centre of the park with Routledge beginning to really test the opposition defence with a display of direct and purposeful running. Even Damien Delaney was in shooting mood driving forward from his left back berth to fire a powerful drive which deflected for a corner.
QPR goalkeeper Lee Camp had endeared himself to the home crowd giving several gratifying waves to chants of Lee Camp give us a wave and Lee Camp is a Forest fan. He received a warning when he missed a cross only for Garner to nod a chance inches wide of a gaping goal.
However this time round Camp was duly punished after he was unable to claim a good cross from full back Luke Chambers. The cross flew towards the far post and Camp went up with a tentative hand before Chris Cohen planted his header goalbound. Somehow three defenders back on the line failed to clear the agonisingly slow effort, eventually rolling in off the hand of Damion Stewart.
GOAL: Nottingham Forest 2-2 Queens Park Rangers
Camp sat forlorn on the turf staring straight at the referee and looking for any sort of decision, while Rangers assistant manager Bruno Oliveira had raced down the touchline to remonstrate with the assistant referee failing to what the management thought was an obvious foul.
Having sat only feet from the incident it was clear that Cohen had legitimately won the ball in the air and Camp and the rest of Rangers` defensive unit were seemingly embarrassed at their poor efforts to clear.
Blackstock was given a glorious opportunity to equalise as the second half began to wind down. More excellent work from Wayne Routledge combined with substitute Hogan Ephraim, on for Liam Miller, down the right before the winger found Blackstock. The R`s top scorer took a touch on his chest but fired straight at stopper Paul Smith from just inside the area.
It seemed that Paul Smith was doing twice the job of Camp with half the acclaim from his own supporters. Mikele Leigertwood rose highest from another good corner in the Routledge repertoire, his headed effort was tipped agonisingly around the post by the former Southampton and Brentford stopper.
Rangers were pinning the hosts back, with a blend of anxiety and tiredness kicking in for Forest fans and players alike after an energy sapping defeat at the hand of their rivals down Brian Clough Way during the week.
Leigertwood had another go from the subsequent corner but his effort was this time wide of the left hand upright under heavy pressure from soon-to-be makeshift forward Wes Morgan.
The returning Angelo Balanta came from the bench at the expense of goalscoring Matteo Alberti - who once again remained largely disappointing down the left. Straight away the young Colombian looked to get in on proceedings.
Balanta was supplying some excellent creativity down the left flank which was somewhat stifled by his inability to play with his left foot. However the sprightly stylings of the returning forward gave rise to great potential in the R`s final attacks.
However the only effort Rangers could muster before the final whistle was once again Mikele Leigertwood firing an shot from distance which Smith did well to tip over the bar to the delight of the now silent Forest fans.
Despite five minutes of added on time and countless waves of attack by the visiting side they had to make do with a point, with two defensive mistakes contributing to their own downfall.
Final Whistle: Nottingham Forest 2-2 Queens Park Rangers
Nottingham Forest: Paul Smith, Kelvin Wilson, Luke Chambers, Wes Morgan, Lewis McGugan, Nathan Tyson (Adam Newbold 15), Chris Cohen, Joe Garner (Gareth McCleary 66), Matthew Thornhill (Ian Breckin 89), Brendan Maloney, Joe Heath.
Queens Park Rangers: Lee Camp, Matthew Connolly, Kaspars Gorkss, Damion Stewart, Damien Delaney, Gavin Mahon, Mikele Leigertwood, Liam Miller (Hogan Ephraim 70), Wayne Routledge, Matteo Alberti (Angelo Balanta 82), Samuel Di Carmine (Dexter Blackstock 59).
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Date:Saturday February 7 2009
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