Forest suffered their first home defeat of the season as they went down 2-1 to Burnley at the City Ground, with referee Clive Penton at the centre of the controversy.
An injury to Julian Bennett gave Joe Heath an opportunity to make his mark at left-back, with a return for Kelvin Wilson at the expense of Ian Breckin. It was an otherwise unchanged side that lined up in a game many expected them to win.
Both sides started well, with the first ten minutes providing end-to-end football, though the first opportunity for the reds didn’t arrive until the quarter-hour mark. A powerful run through midfield and a perfectly weighted through ball from Chris Cohen set Nathan Tyson away with only the keeper to beat. Just as the City Ground was expecting him to bury it, Tyson blazed it high and wide, though credit must go to Brian Jensen in the Burnley goal for making Tyson’s job as difficult as he did.
Forest proceeded to pass Burnley off the park for the next ten minutes, until the first of referee Clive Penton’s farsical decisions gave Burnley a free kick on the edge of the Forest area. Steven Thompson couldn’t believe his luck as he pulled Moussi’s shirt, fell over, and was awarded a free kick for his theatrics. The ball was laid off to Graham Alexander, who sent a thunderous shot into the bottom right-hand corner with Smith helpless.
Forest completely lost their way after that, resorting to Megson-esque hoofball. This played right into the hands of a Burnley side who had clearly come here to defend and catch us on the break, which they did very effectively. At times their were all 11 Burnley players within 30 yards of their own goal, with Forest helpless to break them down. However, they did come close a few seconds before half time as the lively Rob Earnshaw got onto the end of Tyson’s ball into the box, producing a fantastic save from Brian Jensen.
Forest started the second half much the better side, getting at Burnley from the off. As Burnley realised they were unable to cope with Forest’s pace and power going forward they resorted to bringing down any Forest player who went past them, Nathan Tyson fouled cynically on several occasions. Unfortunately, referee Clive Penton was only too happy to see these fouls go unpunished, not bringing out his yellow card until things were getting ridiculous.
However, despite Burnley’s defensive set-up, Forest did manage an equaliser on 52 minutes. After cleverly beating his man, Tyson was again fouled as a last resort, which gave Forest a free kick wide on the right. Cohen whipped it in, saw it clip a defender, bounce off the bar, and Rob Earnshaw was on hand to give Forest the equaliser nobody could deny they deserved.
Forest were looking much the better side by now, with the next effort coming from Moussi. After working himself a yard on the edge of the box, he forced a good save from Jensen at his near post. Burnley were by no means out of it however. After winning a corner, McCann was left completely unmarked eight yards out, with only a super stop from Smith keeping things level.
Then came the turning point. Burnley always looked dangerous on the counter attack, and after Ade Akinbiyi got away down the inside left channel, his low cross hit the hand of the Sliding Wes Morgan. Mr Penton didn’t hesitate in pointing to the spot, despite the fact that the structure of the human body made it physically impossible for Morgan to have moved his hand out of the way. Graham Alexander dispatched the penalty, leaving Forest seething.
Colin Calderwood then made a double substitution. Andy Cole and Garath McCleary were brought on for Joe Heath and Luke Chambers, with Chris Cohen and James perch going to left back and right back respectively. This left Forest with something of a 3-2-5 formation, with Martin, Tyson, Earnshaw, Cole and McCleary all up front. This had little effect however, as Burnley continued to hit on us the counter attack, and they could well have scored again, through either one of two effort from Akinbiyi or from substitute and former Forest loanee Robbie Blake.
The game played itself out, to the surprise of nobody, and the game will be remembered for two moments of complete farcical incompetence from the referee. However, Forest failed to break Burnley down, and full credit to them for the effectiveness of their smash-and-grab. This wasn’t a bad performance from Forest by any means, but this isn’t a game of performances, meaning we head to Preston on tuesday night in need of a result.
I personally think he was at fault for the first goal, though many might disagree. Otherwise sound.
Helpless to do anything about either goal, didn’t really do anything wrong.
Didn’t always look confident, though did his best to get us moving forward. Was the main culprit of the many wasted long balls, though was very harshly done-by with the penalty.
I’ve supported him thus far, but today he looked like a fish out of water. Was run ragged by Burnley’s left winger, and I’m of the opinion that he will need to be either replaced or moved to centre-half.
Did well deputising for Julian Bennett, and made some good runs down the left.
Did what he could in midfield, and played a large part in most of our counter-attacks. Made several now trademark recovery tackles, good show from Perchio.
Was unfortunate to concede the free kick that led to the first goal, with an otherwise dominant and agressive performance.
Thought his dynamism paid off more today than so far this season, with several driving runs through the middle. Delivery wasn’t great, but made several important tackles and definitely played his part.
Looked lively throughout, and his pace always caused Burnley problems. Should have scored in the first half, but otherwise a good performance. More of an end product please Nathan.
Typical performance, full of trickery. Scored his goal with typical striker’s instincts, was also unlucky not to score at the end of the first half.
Looked good in spells, though when Forest were fading so did he. Not impressed with his delivery, but then it was just one of those days.
Didn’t have much time to make an impact, and consequently made very little. The pattern of the game at the time didn’t suit his style of play, which is probably why he was relatively ineffective.
Also had little time to make a difference, though was slightly more prominent in his attempts to get forward.
I think it would be harsh to attribute any blame for this defeat to Calderwood. We played well for long spells, and he was at a loss to understand why we reverted to long ball tactics after conceding the first goal.