Nottingham Forest regained their place amongst the Championship Playoff contenders, with a tense and scrappy 3-2 win over neighbours Leicester City. To say this was a local derby, played on a Bank Holiday and amidst beautiful sunshine on the banks of the Trent, the match was attended by a disappointing crowd of just over 24,000. Those that decided to watch the game in the more comfortable surroundings of their own home or the pub, will have probably felt justified after witnessing what was on show from two sides banging on the doors of the Playoffs.
Manager Billy Davies made 4 changes to the side that were defeated at the hands of Norwich last week, bringing back Chris Cohen following his suspension and installing Chris Gunter back in defence. Gunter was put at left back, as a replacement for the suspended Konchesky, with Moloney on the right hand side of the back four. Robert Earnshaw earned himself a place in the starting eleven and partnered Marcus Tudgay upfront, in what looked like an attacking 4-4-2 formation. Forest fans were also treated to their first glimpse of new signing Robbie Findley, who was to come on for 10 brief minutes in the latter stages of the game.
The match began with purpose, with the tackles flying in and no quarter being given by either side. The passion and commitment was never in doubt, but the quality of play from both teams was sadly lacking throughout the game. After 15 minutes of misplaced passing and unforced errors from both teams, a rare moment of sublime quality and skill gave the Reds` the lead. Lewis McGugan picked the ball up out wide and ran at the City defence. He delivered a superb cross into the middle of the box, where Marcus Tudgay rose majestically to head in from close range.
That lead was short lived though, because within 6 minutes the visitors were level, thanks to a bit of a howler in the middle of the park from Guy Moussi. The Frenchman lost possession in the centre circle and it put City on the attack. Camp did well to save a shot from Kyle Naughton, but could only parry it out to Matt Oakley on the edge of the box. Oakley struck his shot well and Camp once again did well to get a hand on it, but the shot was too powerful and was deflected into the goal. The game limped to half time without either side adding to the score.
As in the first half, quality was in short supply throughout the second. Leicester who had some big name players on show, were as guilty as Forest when it came to losing possession of the ball. One of the biggest disappointments of the day, was the performance of Yakubu. He had such a sorry game for the Foxes, that he was unceremoniously replaced after less than an hour.
Forest regained the lead after yet more good work from McGugan. He saw his well struck effort from just outside the box come off Weale and out to Earnshaw. Earnie struck the rebound well and it ended up in the net to put the Reds` 2-1 up. Once again though, City got a goal back quick. This time within a minute. The scorer was none other than Sven`s number 1 boy, Darius Vassell. Kris Boyd then came on for Tudgay, followed shortly after by US debutant Robbie Findley. There were feint cries of “USA, USA” from the City Ground faithful, who had by now taken to chewing their fingers down to the stumps.
Just as the fans had resigned themselves to a draw, up popped McKenna with a match winning goal. It didn’t look like one was coming before hand and it didn’t look like happening when the ball left McKenna`s foot. He hit a tame enough looking shot from outside the box and it somehow had enough legs to get as far as Weale in the City goal. It should have been a simple enough ball to collect, but the hapless Weale somehow conspired to miss the ball and had to watch it limp over the line to put the Reds` 3-2 to the good.
Forest ran the clock down well and weren`t really threatened by the visitors again, who had by now resigned themselves to another year in the Championship with another disappointing defeat. Forest though are right back in the mix and stay in the final Playoff spot, thanks to Reading getting a draw at Leeds. There`s now only 3 games left and that Playoff spot still up for grabs. It`s anyone`s guess who will grab it, but one thing`s for certain?.it wont be Leicester City.