words: David Marples
“Leeds conceded three goals in seven second-half minutes at Nottingham Forest. Forest, who had slipped to 11th place after taking only four points from their previous five matches, were the latest side to make a mockery of the form book in the Championship.”
It is easy to lose track of what day of the week it is around this time of year. With Match of the Day on Wednesday evening and a full programme of 3pm kick-offs on Tuesday, one could be forgiven for thinking that a Thursday morning is a lazy Sunday afternoon. And when it comes to putting the bins out on the right day, you might as well buy a lottery ticket and hope for the best.
It would be just as easy to spend the day thinking it was Boxing Day 2012 and that Punxsutawney Phil has just seen his shadow. But no, it is indeed 2019 and you are either back at work or at home sweeping up pine needles or fighting with the plastic Christmas tree as you somehow try to squeeze it back into its box.
The quotes at the start of this piece are indeed from 2012 and describe Forest’s Boxing Day win over Leeds United at the City Ground. It’s the part about Forest scoring three goals in seven second-half minutes that it truly eerie. When Jack Colback found the bottom corner in the 69th minute, he summoned the ghost of Billy Sharp and Dexter Blackstock circa 2012. Daryl Murphy (72nd minute) and Ben Osborn (76th minute) completed a truly giddy seven second-half minutes.
At around 3.02 pm, the situation looked bleak for the home team. Michael Hefele limped off, leaving the home team with only one fit central defender. Claudio Yacob shuffled back ten yards to partner Danny Fox with Adlène Guédioura entering the fray from the bench. Up front, Murphy started ahead of Lewis Grabban owing to a late injury to the leading marksman. If Forest were going to take anything from this game against the league leaders, it would take a Herculean effort.
Despite Leeds gifting Jack Colback a 5thminute goal, Marcelo Bielsa’s team are an impressive specimen and carved out numerous presentable opportunities. Yet for Costel Pantimillon denying Kemar Roofe with an outstretched arm, read Bailey Peacock-Farrell denying Joe Lolley.
The party was all fun and giggles until Kalvin Phillips took things too far and did the football equivalent of producing his car keys and suggesting they all put them in a glass bowl in the middle of the room. He was bundled out of the front door by the host.
Yet this failed to interrupt the rhythm of the visitors and they duly bagged a couple of goals after half-time while half the partygoers went upstairs for a nap. Dark clouds gathered over the City Ground for five minutes until Colback rifled through some old records, found ‘I am the Resurrection’ and cranked it up to eleven.
After the dreadful performance just four days earlier at Millwall, few could have envisaged this as Forest stared down the barrel of a home defeat. While Aitor Karanka’s team weren’t at their shimmering best, they were dogged and brave throughout the game, combining non-stop running in the shape of Matty Cash and pure brilliance represented by Ben Osborn’s goal.
Despite being 2-1 down and temporarily stuck in a moment after Ezgjan Alioski put Leeds ahead, the sight of the away team pouring forward looking for a third while leaving only two defenders back meant that the lead was always fragile. The tenacious harrying and direct running that Cash offered helped Forest get up the pitch while Murphy’s hold-up play was exemplary.
A football match is composed of small moments. Invariably, ninety minutes get compressed into a minute, like a mountain represented by a marble. When Osborn cut in on his right foot and let loose with a hammer-blow, it wasn’t only the roof of the net that almost came off; The City Ground erupted. Momentarily, all the worrying, anguish, anxiety, frustration pent up caused by the weird purgatory of not knowing what day it is and whether you are coming or going was briefly released. And it felt wonderful.
Issue Ten is out now and available to buy here and MSR newsagents on Trent Bridge and Angel Row where you will also find loads of Forest books and memorabilia to stick on your Christmas list.
Get your exclusive, hand crafted Forest calendar here.