words: David Marples
It’s so very nice when we get to have nice things.
*It sometimes feels as if Joe Lolley is some sort of temptation test – like that Haribo advert when kids are left unattended in a room and asked not to take a sweet.
‘Here, have Joe Lolley.’
‘Sure, He’s yours. Look after him and nice things will happen.’
‘Wow. Thank you. Are you sure though? He is pretty special.’
*licks Joe Lolley all over the face*
His goal at the Riverside is the first the hosts have conceded this season. The shock on their faces when he swazzed it into the net after exemplary hold-up play from Daryl Murphy. That was very nice.
*Middlesbrough had been warned. In the first half, Gil Bastião Dias ran from deep in his own half to the edge of Boro’s penalty area only to be felled. This was no park the bus and leave Muphy isolated in the hope of nicking from a set piece type of disaply. While João Carvalho dropped deeper to provide another body in midfield, Dias and Lolley wingers had licence to push up while the full backs – Tendayi Darikwa and Jack Robsinson - generally stayed in the place their position dictates. The plan seemed to be to exploit the opposition full back areas - maybe with half an eye on preventing George Friend’s forays - and to give Ryan Shotton his own personal nightmare dressed like a daydream in the shape of Joe Lolley.
*In a modern twist on the Frank Lampard/Steven Gerrard dilemma, maybe Ben Watson and Jack Colback can play together. If in the past such a pairing in midfield seemed to negate any attacking threat but that was not the case here with Carvalho looking to receive the ball on the turn from either while Dias and Lolley scampered up the wings like kids after a clutch-happy ice cream van driver.
*The withdrawal of Michael Dawson for Toby Figs owing to injury initially looked like a sizeable hammer to the apple-cart. Yet Toby Figs started to look like the Toby Figs from last season again. Welcome back Toby Figs.
*Amid the ecstasy of the two goals, a clean sheet away from home should not go unheralded. After a difficult week this was a clean sheet for Costel Pantilimmon, something we can all enjoy. It’s easy to write players off after a tricky performance; we’ve all done it out of sheer frustration. Yet it was heart-warming to hear the sizeable away following chant his name and single him out for special recognition come the final whistle. If a player has a bad game, it doesn’t necessarily follow that he is a bad player.
*Clearly lessons were earned from the Millwall game. There existed the obvious threat from set pieces posed from a Tony Pulis team with a full back who dries the ball with a towel before a throw in. Yet for the most part, Forest looked confortable with this: midfielders seemed deeper and more alert to knock downs while defenders jumped with purpose rather than hope.
*The depth and quality of the squad was exemplified too. This result was achieved with Ben Osborn, Adlène Guédioura, Saidy Janko, Matty Cash and Michael Hefele on the bench. Chuck in the enforced substitution of Dawson for Figs (Dawson was surely selected with the type of game in mind) and you sense that should a cup run materialise, the squad will be able to handle the extra games
*The performance was just as pleasing - more pleasing - than finding yourself sat snugly in fifth place in the table going into an international break. League positions will oscillate wildly - at least up until Christmas – yet the performance away from home was a world away from that at Brentford.
Issue Ten will be with you in early November.