words: David Marples
With Bury tantalisingly close to emerging out of the revolving door on the right side of the first round of the League Cup, Forest – in the section of the door behind them – reached out, tripped them up and clambered over them onto the linoleum floor that is the second round.
Pundit and former Forest right back Brian Laws perhaps put it best when he concluded that Forest were, ‘very fortunate, no question about it. Bury deserved more out of that game. Going down to ten men is difficult but it showed that we were playing eleven who hadn’t played together.’
Laws was warming to his theme: ‘Bury only made a few changes and it showed. They were more cohesive and more understanding.’ Quicker and street-wise too. Once they found themselves a goal up and facing ten men, under the astute tutelage of Ryan Lowe and Rob Kelly, Bury knew when to press, when to defend and how to get the ball forward when there was any pressure on their own goal (although in fairness, sustained pressure on the Bury goal was sorely lacking for most of the evening.)
With such an extensive squad at his disposal, Aitor Karanka reasonably and arguably wisely, saw the game as an opportunity for those on the fringes of the starting eleven to stake their claim for more regular first team opportunities. As it was, the team was an assortment of box fresh new signings who could be forgiven for not knowing the names of all their team mates, youngsters who are knocking hard on the door of the first eleven and older pros looking to top up their fitness levels. Yet they all had one thing in common: desperation to impress and gain selection for first team action in what is shaping up to be an ultra competitive squad.
Under such circumstances, it was no surprise that the performance was patchier than a patchwork blanket. Each individual seemed understandably desperate to impress, leading to the performance resembling a trial match. Against motivated - and effective - lower league opposition, it is no surprise that the early rounds of the League Cup produce some odd looking results across the board.
Matty Cash’s late conversion meant the rather unusual sight of going straight into a penalty shoot out without extra time. As if that wasn’t weird enough, things just got weirder from then on with each team smashing in penalties like West Germany at Italia 90 or Kevin Pressman. Of course the League Cup is important and a good old-fashioned cup run is always very welcome yet given the sparse crowd and low key nature of the game, one could be forgiven for underestimating the tension surrounding of the shoot-out. Yet with each converted and only very occasionally missed spot kick, the tension and accompanying nervousness simply ratcheted higher. One only dares to imagine how fans cope when, for example, a place in the Premier League rides on a penalty shoot-out.
No doubt some will have played themselves into Karanka’s thinking while the manager himself may well have firmed up his views on some players at his disposal. Regardless of how you get there, it always feels good to be in the hat for the next round.
Issue 9 is now on general sale. You can buy it from MSR newsagents or click here to have it delivered. It features exclusive interviews with Ian Woan and Brian Laws and much more. We are also selling some lovely merch too. Have a look here.