The following article appeared in the official matchday programme - Forest Review - on Saturday 27th August for the game against Leeds United
words: David Marples
Once in a while, it’s important to take a step back from the worry, the rituals and the angst and remember that going to watch your team play football is supposed to be fun.
No matter what you might say about the performances at the City Ground so far this season, they are more fun than a roly-poly down a steep grass verge on a hot summer’s day while your favourite comedian describes the whole weird and wonderful experience.
Last Saturday’s game against Wigan here at the City Ground was an absolute delight. Of course, a winner in added time always helps in sending fans home happy but that would tell only half the story. Watching Academy-produced players strut their stuff with panache makes the three points seem just that little bit sweeter. Matty Cash, Ben Osborn and Oliver Burke scampered around the park like kids in a playground, always willing to receive the ball, nay, demand the ball, even when their previous touch went astray. This kind of bravery is priceless; the kind that Brian Clough valued most highly.
Aside from Burke’s expertly taken goals, another moment, which exemplifies the talent, came in the first half. Burke’s run had scared the bejeezus out of the Wigan defence but as he approached the edge of the penalty area, he was running out of options. No matter, he spotted Cash loitering and laid the ball off. A little over hit, the ball came towards Cash with pace but the speed with which he adjusted his feet to get away his shot, which rattled the post, was truly impressive. Not unlike a certain Mr. Andy Reid.
Such youngsters will make mistakes and wrong decisions will be made – let’s be clear about that. Regardless, they should be afforded time and patience from fans when such days come around. Encouragement rather than exasperation will help them through such days and they will be better for it. The mind drifts back to when Gareth Williams broke into the first team in 1999-00. Initially, he looked slow and ponderous but developed into a classy and composed player, culminating in his Player of the Season Award for 2002. Young players are like toddlers: they require time, patience and encouragement in order to fulfill their potential.
And what potential we have in our current crop.
Going forward, the team looks scintillating: in terms of defending, highly exciting but not in a good way. The concession of three goals in consecutive home games reminds us of the dark days of winter 2014 when eight goals were conceded in three games.
But let’s dwell on the goals scored. A mere month after those dark days, Forest plundered 18 goals in the space of 21 days in a giddy February. This didn’t last though and scorelines eventually resembled some sort of elongated binary code.
The exhilarating win against Wigan last Saturday was like watching an apple picker seamlessly plucking their fruit from the branches only for a fun-loving assistant to stick it back on to another branch with superglue: frustrating and fun in equal measure.
As for Thomas Lam’s winner in the 93rd minute, what indeed was a defender doing marauding up the field in added time? One is reminded of Clough and Taylor wincing on the bench whilst Colin Barrett skipped upfield from left back in 1978 against Liverpool to score that crucial 2nd goal. When such forays end like these two did, we are reminded that football is about scoring goals: and goals are fun.
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