S E A S O N   2 0 2 1 / 2 2   M A T C H   R E P O R T S   A N D   S T U F F

GAME 1 AUGUST 8 COVENTRICITY 2 FOREST 1
THE DAY IT RAINED FOREVER
Old Uncle Boff used to say that forecasting the weather was easy. All you needed to do was to say that tomorrow's weather would be substantially the same as today's, and 90% of the time you would be right. 90% accuracy is pretty impressive in meteorological terms.

The Boff Weather Principle works for football too - or at least for Forest. Take the form of the last games of last season and transfer it to the beginning of this season, and you end up with a feeble 2-1 capitulation to the almighty Coventricity. It rained yesterday, it will rain today. It will almost certainly rain tomorrow, too.

Despite the changes, very little, it seemed, had changed. Mighten was as good as we knew he was last season though if he keeps getting hammered he won't last much longer. Baby Johnson was as bright as he was for Lincoln so his run and cross for Taylor's goal came as no surprise. Taylor scored, so in that regard Grabban was not missed. Mebbe So had that touch of class we glimpsed last season before coming off injured. The youngster Gabriel defended brightly. McKenna was granite. Bong defended as well as you could expect from somebody who knew he wasn't wanted. Yates reprised his role as a pantomime horse. Colback looked okay until the pressure drained his legs. Lolley wore his shooting boots for corners and his cornering boots for shooting before the inevitable physical collapse.

So, nothing unexpected there then. Nothing new, either, in the gradual second half retreat. As far as Forest are concerned, "game management" is an expression which translates to loss of control, brain fuse and panic. This kind of late disintegration has happened too often to be explained away by one off excuses like Worrall's absence or covid-induced fatigue. We would suggest that such collapse is built in to Hugeton's pragmatic (defensive) model. We would suggest that the pragmatic (defensive) model is all he knows, which is why you will probably see very little creative innovation or even spirited, sustained attacking in his Forest teams, but a whole lot more negative energy, falling back and fearing the worst. This is a patchy squad with an uninspiring manager, and it looks, sadly, as if the rain has set in for a while.

Too miserable, you say? Well, I'll tell you what's really miserable. Yesterday my grandson persuaded his dad to take him to the pub round the corner so he could watch his first Forest match on their big telly. Two hours later the five year old left the pub in tears.

His dad is trying to persuade him to support Manchester United.


GAME 2 AUGUST 14 FOREST 1 AFC MUFFS 2

THERE WERE BOOS...

Well Stress, I am in a quandary.

So am I, Pie. I too am in an absolute quandary.

It's about Hughton. What to do about manager Hughton?

That's the one, Pie. If there was ever an absolute quandary, it's Houghton.

Hughton.

Absolutely, Pie. What a disastrous quandary he's turned out to be, eh?

Disastrous, Stress? You think Hughton is a disaster?

Not necessarily in that order, Pie. Some people, indeed, rate him quite highly.

That's the problem, isn't it Stress? Opinion is increasingly divided. I mean, look at the match against the Muffs. The general opinion is that Forest acquitted themselves well for the most part. They certainly started better than the opposition. Plenty of possession, pace down the flanks, dangerous set pieces, that sort of thing. The only way Bournemouth could cope was by being dirty.

I've been to Bournemouth, Pie. They are generally known as being a dirty people.

The point is, Stress, that we looked like a well managed side.

As I said, a side managed by a highly rated manager. What a man, eh Pie?

Until things started to go wrong, again, and the Muffs started to overrun our midfield and defence and, inevitably, scored.

Forest, eh Pie? What a bunch of losers. Donkeys led by dinosaurs, eh Pie?

Though I'm not sure you can blame Hughton for Forest's defensive fragility.

Of course not, Pie. Sterling fellow, that Hoghton.

Hughton. On the other hand, he's coached these players for a year, and they seem to have made nil progress.

You're right, Pie. Ditch the plonker now.

Though he is missing Worrall, who would make a big difference.

Yes Pie. Give the bloke a chance. Hugeton must stay.

Hughton. His name is Hughton.

Houston.

Hughton.

Hiddlestone.

Look, if you're going to be deliberately stupid you can do your own match report.

Sorry Pei, you're doing a fine job. Carry on.

Where was I?

Forest were one nil down, and it was all the manager's fault, or not.

To do them some credit, Forest responded to this setback with determination. Taylor had a decent effort, Johnson put a good chance into the crowd, and at the beginning of the second half the mighty McKenna converted a Zinckernagel cross to put Forest level.

Inspired by Chrissie H., eh Pie? Did you hear the crowd chanting the manager's name?

No.

Neither did I.

The joy lasted ten minutes, after which Bournemouth decided to score again...

Manager's fault.

...as Samba appeared to dive the wrong way.

Not the manager's fault.

And shortly afterwards, Forest were presented with a golden opportunity to get something from the game when Bournemouth were reduced to ten men.

Dirty Muffs.

Sadly, this was where Hughton's shortcomings were made plain.

As comings go, CH's are shorter than most, eh Pie?

When a team is chasing an equaliser against ten men, why would you retain two defensive midfielders?

I don't know, Pie, why would you do a thing like that?

So Yates and Colback stayed on and managed to hinder forward momentum like midfield anchors dragging along the bottom.

Why Pie why? Does the man lack common sense? Can he not see? Does he not hear? Why do men call him The Grey Ghost?

So Forest huffed and puffed but all pace and guile were gone. Grabban had a couple of offsides, Mighten shot over, Zinckernagel had a pop, and Carvalho was given a few minutes as a sop to the crowd, who at the end let their disappointment ring out loud.

Mismanagement of the highest order, Pie. The man has to go. There were boos.

Perhaps not until he's had the chance to strengthen his squad, eh?

Quite right. After all, the man has a fine record.

Not here he doesn't. His record here is a bit grim.

Useless sod.

So what do you think, Stress?

Think, Pie?

Yes, you remember think. Chris Hughton, stay or go?

I think you could well have hit the hammer on the head there, Pie. I have enjoyed our short time together, but I must now leave, because I am already late for an appointment with somebody interesting.

Bog off.


GAME 3 AUGUST 18 FOREST 1 BLACKBum 2

THESE ARE THE GIFTS OF THE GREY GHOST.
NO PLAN.
NO PERSONALITY.
NO POINT.


GAME 4 AUGUST 21 STOKES 1 FOREST 0

AN EXERCISE IN FUTILITY
What's that noise, Grandfather?

That, my boy, is the tuneless roar of the Forest faithful, designed to drown out not only the opposing supporters, but also their own sadness at the futility of existence.

I don't understand what that means, Grandfather.

Neither do I, my boy, but see, here come the men in red, or a striking combination of navy and fluorescent pink. There are Back and Bong - not, as you might imagine, a cartoon pairing from CBeebies, but all that remains of our box of full backs. And there is the Prince Carvalho, burdened with a weight of expectation which would crush ordinary men. Our midfield, consisting of a horse and cart, is missing Colback, who has taken early retirement. Taylor, a misguided youth, is on his own up front. This is what is known as "a bold selection" from our manager Chris Hughton.

Why has he chosen these men, Grandfather?

It could be a desperate last throw from a bust manager, or an attempt to appease the fans, or a cynical illustration of just how inadequate the squad is, or he could have gone mad. We will probably never know. See, they have kicked off.

The Stokes men are very big, aren't they Grandfather?

Some of them. Not all.

They must be big, Grandfather, because they keep heading the ball. The Nottingham players aren't big enough to head the ball.

That would be Bong's fault, my boy. You remember Back and Bong? Well, Bong is the funny one who keeps getting lost and falling over buckets, that kind of thing.

Is that why the Stokes have nearly scored twice, Grandfather?

Partly, my boy, and partly because they have what we call an "attack", which is where players have been coached to work together to create goalscoring opportunities.

Isn't that cheating, Grandfather?

Yes, in a way it is. But there are many who think that Forest should cheat in the same way. As it is, our manager prefers not to coach, but to rely on the unaided ability of individuals. There, like that peculiar effort from the misguided youth Taylor. This lack of coaching is obvious throughout the side. It may even be responsible for degrading good players' performances. Note how quiet Zinks has become.

Zinks, Grandfather?

Zinckernagel, my boy, a loanee from Watford whose game has deteriorated in three short games.

Where is our manager, Grandfather?

He's that semi-transparent fellow there on the sidelines. And there's the half time whistle.

What happens now, Grandfather?

Well, the Forest players go into a room, and the semi-transparent fellow uses words until they stop listening and are filled with sadness at the futility of existence, then they come out in the second half and lose.

Does this happen often, Grandfather?

Quite often, my boy. Now let's cheer the men in navy and fluorescent pink back on to the pitch, and place our faith in the beach ball of hope.

I see it, Grandfather, I see the beach ball of hope!

That's my boy. Though I'm not sure that even the beach ball of hope can stop the Stokes looking rather dangerous. There's a decent save from Samba. There's a shot into the side netting.

I don't like this, Grandfather. It makes me want to wee.

And there we go, one nil to the Stokes. That goal was of a type generally referred to as "inevitable".

There are a lot of sweary people, Grandfather.

There certainly are, my boy. But here come Grabban and Baby Johnson for Prince Carvalho and the misguided youth Taylor. Perhaps we will be more effective with exactly the same number of attackers in exactly the same system.

Grabban and Baby Johnson did well there, Grandfather. Do they not make a good attacking pair?

They do, my boy. At least Baby Johnson does, probably because our manager hasn't uncoached the spirit out of him yet. Grabban's just been here too long. Sometimes I think we've all been here too long.

What does "We're going down," mean, Grandad?

It's called gallows humour, my boy. It means that somebody's going to get hanged.

There are a lot more sweary words now, Grandfather.

Yes, my boy. Time for us to go, I think.

What will happen now, Grandfather?

Well, the semi-transparent manager will use words until everybody stops listening and are filled with sadness at the futility of existence.

I don't understand what that means, Grandfather.

Nobody ever does, my boy. Nobody ever does.


GAME 5 AUGUST 28 SHEEP 1 FOREST 1

CONFUSED.COM
I've been deluding myself that I'm fine thankyou, it's the rest of the world that's confused. Now I've given up. It's me, I admit it. I don't understand anything any more.

I don't understand, for example, how a life insurance company can be called Dead Happy. I don't see the point of "mild hybrids", even if they do power you through the beautiful storm that is Life. I'm confused as to how everybody can be so complacent about living in a covid soup.

What broke me was this latest instalment of the A52 derby. Half way through, I wondered how I had allowed myself to be distracted by this crap when England were routing the Indians in a proper game at Headingly. After five minutes I failed to understand why Forsyth hadn't been arrested for his assault on Zinckernagel, or why in general the Sheep were so poisoned by their own inferiority that they resorted to acts of pure spite. After a short while I became confused by the Bong. My wife asked me "What is this thing called Bong?" and I had no answer. He seemed to be looking for something he had lost in a place he was unfamiliar with. After he was partially responsible for allowing Diver Lawrence through on goal, all I could tell myself was "If it had been made plain to you that you were not good enough for this club, would you give a flying f**k about anything?" It was a sad excuse, and almost certainly wrong, but it was the only one I understood.

The first half left me bewildered and disturbed. The Forest team was once more playing in that confused and dislocated way it reserved for football matches. Even the bright hopes were dimmed, as Zinckernagel and Garner laboured. I found it hard to fathom how decent players could combine to form this knotty confusion. My wife asked me "Who is Forest's coach?" and I had no answer. Perhaps we didn't have one.

The second half was much better than the first, in the sense that it wasn't as bad. Even this was confusing, as Hughton's team talks generally reduced the players to root vegetables, but this time they seemed oddly determined. Or was it that the Sheep were fading? Whatever the case, with Mighten and Grabban adding more forward threat than the binned Carvalho, Forest somehow got on top. Grabban forced a save from Kelly Roots. Things were much better now than they would have been if they had been much worse than they were.

Eventually the pressure resulted in something deeply ironic. The Bong was given time to deliver a cross which found its way to Baby Johnson, who hammered it under Kelly Roots. The irony was not that the Bong, of all people, was credited with an assist, but that Bong's cross was only turned into an assist by some lousy Derby defending, and Baby Johnson's shot was only turned into a cracker by some lousy goalkeeping. None of this matters of course, except to illustrate how simple things are always more bewildering than they ought to be.

Forest should have gone for the winner, but didn't. It was one of the few things I understood, because that's the way Forest play these days.

Which brings me to the saddest and most confusing thing of all. It seems obvious to me that Forest are not being coached to play as a team. I remain confused about how anybody can make excuses for a manager who is clearly not doing the job he is paid for.

When Hughton says, "This squad clearly needs help", he should try giving it some.


GAME 6 SEPTEMBER 12 FOREST 1 CAERDYDD 2
DEAD OF NIGHT
Tell me, Vetch, are you familiar with the 1945 British black and white anthology horror film called Dead of Night?

The one starring the much loved veteran Welsh actor Mervyn Johns?

That's the one, Vetch.

No sir. I regret to say I have never heard of it.

Then let me give you a brief summary of the plot.

If you must, sir.

Very well. The film starts with this fellow played by Mervyn Johns arriving at his friend's country house for a get-together of some kind. As soon as Johns meets the other guests he tells them that something absolutely dreadful is going to happen that very night. One of the guests, a psychiatrist chappie, tries to reassure Johns that his fears are unfounded. The other guests amuse themselves by telling macabre stories. Eventually the Johns fellow is driven mad by all the goings on and strangles the psychiatrist fellow. Next thing you know, he is woken by a telephone call from his friend inviting him to his country house. for a get-together of some kind. The film ends with Johns arriving at his friend's country house...

So the film is, in fact, a recurring nightmare.

Exactly, Vetch.

It does indeed sound an intriguing production, sir, but I don't understand why you are telling me this, now.

I think you do, Vetch.

Excuse me sir, but I really don't.

I watched your beloved Forest yesterday, Vetch. I watched them play reasonably well in the first half, scoring a goal and defending manfully against a barrage of high balls and elbows. Hughton delivered his half time team talk, and Forest duly collapsed in the second half. There's your recurring nightmare, Vetch. It's happened so many times before, and it'll carry on happening until Hughton is scotched. In fact it will probably get worse. The fellow Maximum Lowe was outstanding, but only because Hughton has only just started to drain his spirit.

I know all these things, sir. I came to terms with the recurring nightmare of Hughton's incompetence a while ago, with the result that I've decided not to bother with Forest at all, at least for a while.

My poor fellow, I didn't realise...

I have wasted too much time watching and listening to stupidity and gross incompetence. I have decided to take up a more rewarding pastime.

And what would that be, Vetch?

Drinking heavily, sir.

Really?

I think so, sir. I think it's for the best. It's quite refreshing, the sense of freedom you experience when you are hopelessly drunk.

You're drunk now, aren't you Vetch?

I am, sir.

Do you know how I can tell, Vetch?

Because I'm lying on the floor?

Exactly. This can't go on, you know, Vetch. If Hughton had any regard for the damage he's doing, he'd resign. But I suppose he's too dignified for that.

Barnacles.

It's interesting you should say that, Vetch. There is actually such a thing as a fear of barnacles, did you know that? It's called Trypophobia. It's not actually a fear of barnacles, rather a fear of irregular clusters of small holes. A bit like Forest's defence, eh Vetch? Oh, he's asleep.


GAME 7 SEPTEMBER 15 FOREST 0 MISERABLEBUGGER 2
CHRIS WHO?
Now that the manager whose name we barely remember has been sacked for reasons we can't bear to recall, Mister Egg, who now writes for The Athlete's Foot and therefore knows everything, mulls over some possible candidates for the City Ground hotseat.

Sean Bean may seem a left field choice, but if charisma and inspirational drive count for anything, Sean's your man. Give him a sword, convince him that Nottingham has moved 50 miles north, and he would be unstoppable. Unfortunately, Forest fans might quickly tire of his pitchside exhortations to "Do it for Yorkshire!"

Genghis Khan, the founder of the Mongol empire whose armies swept west to the gates of Christendom, would be a motivational powerhouse whose tactical approach would be characterised by its brutal simplicity. The minute he started killing people, however, he might well lose the dressing room. Also, he would almost certainly smell dreadful.

Neil Warlock was apparently spotted at the City Ground during Forest's shameful performance against Miserablebugger, thus qualifying him as an obvious managerial candidate. Some fans would welcome Warlock and his infantile spats, though they tend to be the ones who can't spell their own name.

Gene Wilder. In a sadly typical example of mistaken identity, Forest might just appoint Gene Wilder, the American comic actor from such films as "The Producers", "See No Evil, Hear No Evil" and "Silver Streak", instead of ex-Sheffield Undead gaffer Chris Wilder. His tenure alongside head scout Richard Pryor would be hilarious until fans realised he had joined the angels in 2016. Aw.

Makka Pakka. This children's favourite from "In The Night Garden" spends his time cleaning stones and occasionally his friends. He would engage well with the younger players and provide a stimulating training environment which might well involve cleaning stones and occasionally his friends. His backroom staff might be a problem, as none of them speak English or are, indeed, human.

Or indeed, they could just plump for "Handsome" Steve Cooper, late of Abertawe. Handsome Steve is the go-to candidate when things get ugly, as they are at Forest.


GAME 8 SEPTEMBER 18 UDDERSFEEL 0 FOREST 2
BLOOD AND CUSTARD
A great deal of old crony bollocks has been spoken about Hughton's departure, mostly from Chris Sutton, who reckons the players should be ashamed of themselves for playing so poorly under their previous manager. He could have reminded himself that "playing so poorly under their previous manager" might just have something to do with the previous manager himself, but poor Sutton has long been a stranger to common sense. Anyway, we don't know whether it was Steven Reid's influence or the simple relief of slipping off the Hughton shackles that inspired Forest to perform as they did against Uddersfeel. We suspect it was the kit.

I mean, wearing a blood and custard kit is a bit of a statement, isn't it? You could have forgiven Forest for keeping the lowest of profiles as they prepared for what most of us feared would be their seventh defeat of the season. But no, not this lot. Out they trotted as cocky as you like with their luminescent finery blazing in the sunshine. It made Uddersfeel's shirts look like tired deck chair canvases.

Having gained the sartorial advantage, Forest quickly went about intimidating Uddersfeel with their energy and movement. Everything about them was so vivid you literally couldn't take your eyes off them. Was this really Forest on the front foot, pressing high, forcing mistakes, playing with confidence and aggression? Were those Forest full backs and centre backs breaking forward to put the fear of God into their opponents? Never have deck chairs looked so confused.

And there was Baby Johnson, looking bigger and taller and stronger than he ever did in plain red, surging from his own half down the right wing, past some deckchair called Colwill, clipping a fine ball towards Grabban who was (a) easily spotted because of the kit and (b) in the place a striker should be. Grabban stooped to bury his header in the Uddersfeel net, a goal of such beauty he had to kick the advertising boards to reassure himself, and us, that he wasn't dreaming. Do you remember the early days of differently coloured boots? Pundits would make remarks like "If you wear them, you'd better be good". Well, Forest were wearing blood and custard, and they were very good indeed.

In the grey days, Forest would have pulled back to their default defensive positions and waited for their opponents to skirt round them and score two goals. But this was a full colour day, and Forest tried their hardest to maintain an attacking threat. They were helped in this regard by some very determined midfield and defensive play which consistently wrong footed the deck chairs. Uddersfeel only threatened once, when somebody whose name sounded suspiciously like Corona slipped the ball to somebody whose name sounded suspiciously like Toffo in the Forest penalty area, but Samba was sharp enough to smother the ball. That's the word - sharp. All the Forest players were sharp. They had to be, because there's no hiding place when you're wearing blood and custard.

The second half began in much the same way as the first, with Forest pressing high and keeping possession just outside the Uddersfeel penalty area. Eventually the ball was cut back to Yates, who drove a skidding, spinning shot towards the Uddersfeel goal. Keeper Nicholls stretched to bat away the swerving ball, but Joe Lolley (remember him?) delivered a cunningly deflected shot into the back of the net. Uddersfeel looked bereft, and blamed their inferior kit. Probably.

Uddersfeel still had most of the second half to mount a fightback and they continued to boss possession without doing all that much with it. Holmes saw a desperate shot deflected wide in the final 10 minutes. The Forest players looked knackered, to be honest. They had fought so hard for so long that from the resulting corner they seemed unable to jump to contest Lees header, which thankfully drifted beyond the Forest post.

In this first victory of the season, everybody did their job. Steven Reid set them up brilliantly, the players responded with enormous energy, the fans sang about Derby. But the real hero was the kit. As Winston Churchill once said, "I have nothing to offer you but blood, toil, tears and custard," and how right he was.


GAME 9 SEPTEMBER 25 FOREST 1 MEWO 1
WELCOME, MISTER COOPER
I'm sorry this report is late, but I've been so worried about so many things that it's all been a bit overwhelming to be honest.

I worry that Mister Cooper might be really good at saying the right things, and I worry about what kind of miserable wazzock I've become to entertain even the slightest doubt about him when clearly he has got Forest playing more progressively even though, worryingly, there are still problems to solve, one of which is not having a fit and competent striker, and I worry about how Mister Cooper will solve that one. I honestly think Grabban would have scored if he'd stayed on, but the Mewo goalkeeper tried to kill him, which was worrying.

I am worried for Taylor. The poor lad has plenty to say about plenty, but almost nothing to say about how he has mastered the art of doing the exact opposite of what he should be doing whilst pretending to do what he should be doing but isn't. Or can't.

I worry that nobody has made the connection between the thuggish nature of Championship football and the woeful standard of refereeing. Weak refereeing is where Millwalls come from.

I worry that Joe Lolley is trying too hard to recover his best form and is becoming ball greedy. Forest did better when the ball went through Baby Johnson.

The bloke next door has got covid, which is worrying. If you've not had it yet, be warned. It's all over the place, and it's heading your way. At over 30,000 new cases a day that's over 210,000 cases a week. Eleven million cases a year. We've got to learn to live with it, say the anti-maskers. Or die with it, say less stupid people.

I worry about Brice Samba's intermittent bouts of mental collapse.

I worry that we've managed to uncover the best full back pairing in the Championship. D.J. Spence and Maximum Lowe might wake up one day and realise they're on the wrong planet or they've got covid or life's a dream or something. People say it's no good worrying about what you can't control, which is exactly the opposite of the truth. If you could control the trajectory of the Armageddon asteroid, you wouldn't need to worry about it at all, would you?

I worry terribly for Derby fans, especially the ones who have sunk into the paranoid nightmare of their "us against the world" fantasy, which is most of them really. You've got to remember that some of them are actually people, who deserve to be reassured that everything will eventually work out for the best, and that just because they think everybody hates them doesn't mean it's not true.

My irrational hatred for trivial irritants is a cause for great worry. Such irritants include people who say "that's a learning curve", or people who wear their masks below their nostrils, or Sam Matterface's pronunciation of Azpilicueta, or the bloke who first says "he'll be all right when he gets his own players in January". I shouldn't be concerned about things like this, because there are far more important things to worry about. This winter, in Brexit Britain, we're going to run out of lorry drivers, petrol, gas and food. The climate will become catastrophically unpredictable, the NHS will collapse and everybody will die of the Omega variant except the government who will be on holiday, or cocaine.

I worry about my bottom right molar, which is surviving on paracetamol and Sensodyne.

So that's why this is late. Plus the fact that I spent most of Sunday trying to mend a gazebo's broken strut with duct tape. Sometimes, things just overwhelm you.


GAME 10 SEPTEMBER 29 BARNSLEH 1 FOREST 3
SCABS ASSEMBLE

There, Pie, I told you he was the right man for the job. "Coops is the right man for the job," I said.

That's not quite how I remember it, Stress. I recall you saying something like "Steve Cooper teams are so boring it's like watching fish rot."

You must be mistaking me for somebody else, Pie. As far as I'm concerned, last night's display against the Dykes was a masterclass in counter-attacking football by a properly coached team.

Tykes.

That's right. The first half was a bit frustrating, mind you.

Frustrating in the sense that, according to you, Lolley was a misfit who couldn't hit a cow's arse with a barn, Toby Figgis should have been shot in a ditch, Garner wasn't Garner at all but some dysfunctional clone ManUre had sent in his place, Samba's distribution was as reliable as the Dutch Post Office, and Forest were stuck up the arroyo de mierda without a paddle.

That doesn't sound like me at all, Pie. Since when could I speak Greek? All I was bothered about was Forest's final ball. It was obvious that there was acres of space behind the Dykes...

Tykes.

...but we just couldn't take advantage of it. Despite the Dykes' lead at half time...

Tykes.

...Forest were by far the better side. And the second half proved me right.

Not at first it didn't. If anything, a couple of missed opportunities from Baby Johnson and Zinckernagel increased the frustration of the assembled scabs.

But you could tell the thirteen Dykes fans were getting worried, couldn't you Pie?

Tykes.

Because they knew just one more piece of the jigsaw would turn Forest from a steaming bowl of frustration soup into a volcano of incendiary meatballs, didn't they Pie?

Well, I doubt that the Barnsleh faithful were thinking in those terms, but...

And sure enough, Toby Figgis is replaced by Grabs, and the meatball volcano erupts. Mister Cooper is nobody's fool, is he Pie? Canny game plan, canny substitutions, proper coaching. Just like I said all along.

Of course you did, Stress. It obviously came as no surprise to you when Baby Johnson sliced through a rather tired off-side trap to lay on an easy tap in for Zinckernagel, despite your being sick on your shoes. Nor when Zinks returned the favour for Baby Johnson to drive Forest into the lead, which caused you to punch yourself in the face. I suspect you probably wet yourself after the third goal, but what a goal it was. Another brilliant substitution from Mister Cooper, Alex Mighten ghosting past the Moon and stabbing the ball to Grabban, who scored with the arrogant ease of a totally kool pro, as the kidz might say.

What a night, eh Pie? What a rolacola of emotions.

Or a volcano of meatballs.

Or a desolation of Dykes.

Tykes. Or the birth of a legend.

Quite right, Pie. Coops is the man for us.

I didn't mean Mister Cooper, Stress. I meant the kit.


GAME 11 OCTOBER 2 BOREMINGHAM 0 FOREST 3
A KNIFE SO SHARP...
In one of the "Hannibal Lecter" books, Lecter bumps into one of his pursuers on a crowded thoroughfare and slices him open with a knife so sharp and a movement so swift that the poor victim carries on walking for a while before failing to realise that he is dead.

Forest did to Boremingham what Lecter did to his victim. You could see the bewilderment on the Boremingham players' faces after each goal. "What the hell's going on here?" they seemed to say. "And why are we saturated in blood from the waist down?"

The really sad thing was that Boremingham honestly believed they were in with a chance. They certainly started in fiery fashion. Jeremy Belly fired wide, Jutkiewicz's header was saved by Brice Samba, and Chong's effort hit the post. Unfortunately, accumulated missed chances do not convert to actual goals. All they add up to is a sense of frustration which leads to overpressing and bad decisions. Against this Forest side, bad decisions tend to be fatal.

Jack Colback dispossessed Chong and launched Grabban on his way towards the Boremingham goal. Grabban's progress through the empty heartland of Boremingham's defences was almost diffident, but there was nothing diffident about his shot. Often a football swerves because some "side" is put on it, but sometimes a ball is hit so hard the air can't get out of its way and pushes it off course. Grabban's shot actually bent upwards and sideways past the bemused Boremingham keeper. The knives were out, so to speak.

Jutkiewicz headed against the post again as Forest mucked up another set piece, Jeremy Belly's dreadful back pass allowed Grabban to muck up a glorious chance to increase Forest's lead, before Yates showed Boremingham how set pieces should be finished with a powerful downward header from a Zinckernagel corner. Two nil. Half time. Boremingham still walking, but sensing a coldness in the legs.

Whatever Bowyer said to his side during half time didn't work. It took only eight minutes for Forest to complete their surgical procedure. Grabban slid the ball to Zinckernagel who played it past a back-pedalling defence to D.J. Spence, who magicked a superb finish into the top wrong corner of the net. It was ruthlessly thrilling.

Boremingham kept trying their set piece stuff, but misdirected headers and a brilliant save from Samba kept them goalless. And Forest were always willing and able to press forward, right to the end of the match. Boremingham carried on walking for a while before failing to realise that they were dead.

What is so special about this Forest side now is its determination to go forward. There are no prolonged sequences of sideways and backwards passing. As soon as Forest gain possession, the player looks up, the forwards fan out ahead, and the forward movement begins. Forest have the skill and pace to be shudderingly dangerous on the counter attack. Of course they've got problems with high balls in defence, but if there wasn't something wrong, then Mister Steve Cooper wouldn't have anything to do, would he?







Tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow, creeps in this petty pace from day to day, to the last syllable of recorded time; and all our yesterdays have lighted fools the way to dusty death. Out, out, brief candle! Life's but a walking shadow, a poor player that struts and frets his hour upon the stage and then is heard no more. It is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury signifying nothing.