Can I just check something? Forest did actually win at the weekend, didn’t they? It’s just that none of the usual Forest bloggers seems to have mentioned that we beat Peterborough by a single goal on Saturday. There’s a report on the official Forest site, but you can’t always trust them, so I’m starting to wonder if I imagined it.
Okay, so LTLF hasn’t been updated since last Friday either, but we’ve been busy – who can take their eyes away from the thrills and spills of the Tory party conference? And then there’s the time we’ve spent Googling salacious rumours about various BBC employees, not to mention dining out every lunchtime and evening on our winnings after James Coppinger gave us some racing tips. What’s everyone else’s excuse?
Anyway, the fact is, I thought it was definitely worth mentioning that we had won at the weekend, not only because we hadn’t previously won a match since September 1 and if that form is anything to go by the chance might not arise again for while, but also because the Peterborough result might turn out to be one of the most significant of the season.
Beating Peterborough, rooted to the bottom of the table, might not be a massive achievement in the grand scheme of things, but can you imagine if we had lost? A month without a win is pretty worrying and with matches against league-leaders Cardiff and play-off contenders Blackpool to follow the international break, we might have been looking at Barnsley away on November 27 for our next realistic source of the three points.
The performance at London Road was not one to treasure (though Derby County would probably release a DVD of a victory over ‘local rivals’) but the cliché runs that good sides can win when they are playing badly. In the previous match against Blackburn we played well but created too few chances, and the same could be said of this game, an Andy Reid wundergoal disguising the fact we once again failed to lay anything on for our potentially potent strike-force.
But so far this season we’ve seen Forest play very well and play very badly. We’ve put in performances that deserved wins but resulted in draws, and performances that warranted nothing but, err, resulted in draws. So, yeah, a lot of draws, and more recently some defeats too. The win over Peterborough not only breaks that pattern, it also lets us reflect on our campaign so far as being okay. Not spectacular, not wonderful, but definitely okay.
Without those three points we would have been the seventh team in a group on 11 points hovering above the relegation zone. As it is we’re still within three points of the play-off zone in what promises to be another hugely competitive Championship season. We shouldn’t get too worried about being ‘competitive’ this year as I think a season of consolidation would do us a world of good, but the last thing we need right now is to be dragged into a relegation battle.
Narrowly beating Peterborough to wedge ourselves in mid-table sets the tone for the next few months, if not the whole season – a tone of finding our feet and knuckling down. That’s why I think it’s such an important result and perhaps ultimately even more significant than losing at home to the Sheep. Local derbies are unpredictable by nature and tell you little about form – wins away at places like Peterborough say a lot about a side.
The other reason it was a significant game was the performance of Chris Cohen who, in the last three matches, has reminded us all why we missed him so much last season. Great news, then, to see him signed up on a contract until 2016. Now maybe Omar Al-Hasawi just felt strange having not welcomed any new signings to the City Ground for a week so went for the next best thing, but as Seat Pitch point out, it’s a welcome change to see a star player tied up instead of leaving on a free. For all our transfer activity over the last few months we’re still missing Garath McCleary’s spark on the right wing. It would be arrogant to assume we can replace someone with Chris’ talent and energy and it’s nice to see someone from previous generations of Forest players still considered key to the future.
The international break gives Sean O’Driscoll more time to assess the games so far and work with his squad. If it were not for Andy Reid we might be going into the break dwelling on our failure to score for the third game running and looking nervously down the table. Winning over Peterborough might not have brought back the buzz of excitement that was around the club after, say, the win against Charlton, but that and the signing of Chris Cohen does a lot to restore a mood of quiet optimism – and, for the time being, that will do for me.