Tag Archives: Nottingham Forest

East Midlands rivals battle to derby stalemate

Nottingham Forest and Derby County played out a first goalless draw since October 2002 in this hotly-contested 102nd East Midlands derby.

Despite almost 16 years having passed since that day, with 23 full- time managers between them and leagues swapped a handful of times, the passion of the rivalry remains, as confirmed by an attendance of nearly 30,000.

Before kick-off, the Upper Trent End was a sea of red and white as a massive banner of Giuseppe Garibaldi – nodding towards the founding of their colours – was erected, along with the words that read ‘The Garibaldi we wear with pride was made in 1865’ as the lower tier waved their scarves and flags to create a sight to behold.

The City Ground was rocking

Footage of Forest under Brian Clough and Peter Taylor was shown in a hair-raising and emotional showreel – whilst also stirring the Rams’ emotions of the great man also leading them to glory.

The atmosphere was electric as Mull of Kintyre blasted around the ground, with the players entering the pitch fully pumped up.

The scene was set for a thrilling Championship encounter. Unfortunately, the football that follows doesn’t always match the build-up.

Despite some meaty challenges, an intriguing battle ended in stalemate. Certainly no-one would have predicted a first 0-0 in a derby match at the City Ground since 1906.

“It’s been an emotional game, an emotional derby. I’m pleased because we’re improving,” said Forest boss Aitor Karanka, whose team are 15th in the table and unbeaten in six matches.

“I am pleased for our young players because of the way they’re improving.”

Pantilimon to the rescue

Forest made one change to their line-up as Lee Tomlin replaced Kieran Dowell in midfield, whilst Derby made two as Bradley Johnson and Ikechi Anya replaced the injured Joe Ledley, with Kasey Palmer dropping to the bench.

The opening was cagey and short of any real quality, with some heavy challenges from both sides as they battled to take control.

Andi Weimann saw a shot well blocked by Danny Fox, who was superb all afternoon, before Joe Lolley went on a surging run but his through ball just eluded Matty Cash for the home side.

Those two then linked up again, with the former whipping in a ball for the latter, but his header at the near post was too far in front of anyone.

As the game got into its rhythm, both sides had their chances, with Tom Lawrence flashing a shot wide before Tomlin found some space outside of the box but his shot was well off target.

Costel Pantilimon made a succession of vital saves in the 0-0 draw

Lawrence was booked for simulation, but Derby could have felt themselves unfortunate not to be ahead at the break.

Weimann got in behind Ben Osborn and his fierce shot was parried away by Costel Pantilimon, who the Reds were indebted to for keeping them level.

After his initial save, a combination of the Romanian and Tendayi Darikwa somehow kept Lawrence’s goal-bound effort out of the net.

The resulting corner was almost whipped all the way in by the former Leicester man, but Pantilimon was alert to push the ball out and away from danger as the two sides headed into the break level.

Rowett feeling the pressure

Forest failed to register a shot on target in the game, but they really should have done so with their best chance of the game shortly after the restart.

Cash hounded the Derby defence into a mistake just inside their half and played the ball through to Ben Brereton. The striker used his pace to power forward. The Trent End stood to their feet in unison, as they held their breath.

The 18-year-old should have shot and made himself the hero, but he instead chose to try and square to Cash who had continued his run, but his cut back was weak and allowed Scott Carson to gather, to the groans of the home fans.

He then rose highest to meet a cross, but under pressure he headed over.

With the Rams fifth in the table, without a win in six and only two victories in 2018, their automatic promotion hopes were fading – and they were looking over their shoulder of the chasing play-off pack.

With that in mind, they started to take control as they attempted to find an elusive winner.

Johnson’s powerful free-kick looked destined for the back of the net with 15 minutes left to play, but it was superbly blocked by the Reds wall.

Derby huffed and puffed, camping Forest in their own box. There were a few scrambles, but nothing every truly troubled the hosts’ back five.

Huddlestone saw red for Derby

With 81 minutes gone, the Rams were reduced to 10 men as Tom Huddlestone was given a second yellow for chopping down Tomlin after the on-loan Cardiff man had taken the ball past the midfielder.

It set up an interesting final few minutes, but the home side never looked like pressing home their numerical advantage.

Darikwa powered into the box, but his heavy touch resulted in him lunging into a tackle and giving away a free-kick. Ben Watson almost played in Daryl Murphy, but his through ball was just cut out.

The Rams’ disciplined defence dealt with everything thrown at them, and in the end both sides had to settle for a point.

At the end of the game, Rowett came onto the pitch to remonstrate with the referee about the sending off, before he, Watson and Tomlin had a little shoving match with the Rams gaffer clearly annoyed and displaying the signs of a man under pressure.

The managers’ thoughts:

“Forest have got nothing to lose in some ways, but they look to me very happy with a point,” said former Burton Albion and Birmingham manager Rowett.

“The fact is, Scott Carson had nothing to do all afternoon. We just couldn’t take our opportunities.

“I’m really pleased with the effort, just disappointed with the result.

“It’s another game where we’ve been the better team but we just can’t turn that draw in to a win.

“But the reality is, I’m not sure we could have done an awful lot more.”

Forest manager Karanka added: “We managed the game in the right way. Six weeks ago we weren’t a team. Now we feel a team. Now at least, once again, we are a team on the pitch.”


Forest: Pantlimon, Darikwa, Figueiredo, Fox, Osborn, Watson (c), Colback, Cash, Tomlin, Lolley (Dowell 77′), Brereton (Murphy 85′)

Unused subs: Kapino, Mancienne, Bridcutt, Vellios, Worrall

Bookings: Colback 33′, Watson 75′, Figueiredo 79′, Darikwa 90′

Derby: Carson, Wisdom, Keogh (c), Davies, Forsyth, Huddlestone, Anya (Palmer 66′), Johnson, Weimann, Lawrence (Hanson 84′), Nugent (Jerome 66′)

Unused subs: Roos, Pearce, Thomas, Bogle

Bookings: Lawrence 28′, Huddlestone 78′, 81′

Sent off: Huddlestone 81′

Referee: Jeremy Simpson

Attendance: 29,106 (1,995 away)



City Ground, Nottingham

Determined Karanka tackles winter of discontent at Forest

Nottingham Forest boss Aitor Karanka demonstrated his determination to turn the club’s fortunes around with a dynamic transfer deadline day.

Forest signed no fewer than six players on January 31st, with goalkeeper Costel Pantilimon, arriving on loan from Watford, and Iranian international free agent midfielder Ashkan Dejagah leading the way.

As the 11pm deadline neared, a string of captures was confirmed. Winger Joe Lolley was secured from Huddersfield Town for an undisclosed fee, whilst midfielder Lee Tomlin came in from Cardiff City in a loan swap deal with Jamie Ward moving in the opposite direction.

Newcastle’s Jack Colback agreed a loan, and fellow midfielder Adlene Guedioura of Middlesbrough also switched to the City Ground, returning to the club he left almost four years ago on a two-and-half year deal.

Ben Watson was expected to be the eighth signing of the window after his Watford contract was terminated, with The Reds having already secured Sporting Lisbon centre-back Tobias Figueiredo for the rest of the season.

Algerian international Adlene Guedioura was one of seven January signings

Forest did suffer some frustration in their bid to sign former academy graduate Michael Dawson. Now 34, he started his career at Forest before moving to Tottenham in 2005, and reportedly was in Nottingham to sign a two-and-a-half year deal.

However, Dawson’s parent club Hull City blocked the move, although he could still sign in the summer as a free agent.

24 hours is a long time…

So why the late flurry of transfer activity on the banks of the River Trent?

Just 24 hours, earlier Forest fans has been left embarrassed and distraught by their team’s abject 3-0 loss at home to Preston. Karanka, appointed on January 8th, called it the “worst moment” of his career.

The Spaniard questioned the commitment of the players, and showed his desire to bring success back to Forest with his ruthless deadline day dealings.

For the first time in a long time, an uncompromising message was sent to the squad: you either want to play for this club or you can go.

And it seems some did want to go, with Mustapha Carayol moving to Ipswich having had his contract terminated, Portsmouth snapping up Stephen Henderson on loan, and Matt Mills leaving to join Barnsley.

Ward went as part of the Tomlin swap deal, and Tyler Walker and Zach Clough both made loan moves to Bolton Wanderers.

The squad was too big, and chopping and changing between so many players meant inconsistency. Karanka has attempted to cut out the deadwood while adding quality.

For all the talk of Forest’s revolving door for managers in recent seasons, it had become apparent to supporters that it’s the players on the pitch who were bringing the club down.

Ben Osborn apologised on Twitter for the Preston shambles, but not many of his team-mates seemed to care as they succumbed in dismal fashion – and not for the first time this season.


Karanka has pledged to revive the two-time European champions, and is setting about changing the entire ethos at the club.

The former Real Madrid defender has shown he will not stand for excuses and poor performances – perhaps unlike his predecessors.

‘Karanka can see the issues and he isn’t afraid to address them, as his mass overhaul has shown’

Not since 2011, when Forest twice finished in the play-offs in two seasons under Billy Davies, have The Reds had a really good campaign, and they flirted with a disastrous relegation to League One last year.

Supporters wanted to see a team making progress under Mark Warburton this season, but in truth Forest weren’t good enough, with too many at the club seemingly accepting it.

New leadership

A lot of these problems originated under former owner Fawaz Al-Hasawi, but it looks as if his successor Evangelos Marinakis is serious about solving them.

Karanka can see the issues and he isn’t afraid to address them, as January’s mass overhaul has shown.

Forest also rebuffed a £12m offer from Burnley for star defender Joe Worrall – something that probably would have been accepted under the old regime.

That defiance was welcomed by the fans, as is Karanka’s no-nonsense style. He knows how to get promoted, as he did with Middlesbrough, and it seems he will do whatever he feels necessary to get Forest contending for a place in the top flight.

It seems Forest have finally got the right manager – and one who will return the club’s ethos to a winning mentality.

Feature image courtesy of Diego Sideburns via Flickr Creative Commons