PNE fans' panel
Not the result that North End wanted but a fair one just the same as rejuvenated Forest fully deserved their share of the spoils in an entertaining game at Deepdale. North End started well but Forest dictated the majority of the first half playing a 4-2-3-1 that our 4-4-2 struggled to cope with. David Vaughan was instumental for the visitors and while North End certainly had their moments Forest were worthy of their half time lead through Assombalonga. Simon Grayson changed the personnel and the formation at half time and we were much better for it as we held the balance of play in the second half. Another goal from Aiden McGeady secured North End a point in a game where all three results could have been possible but in the end the 1-1 draw was a fair reflection of the afternoon. Gallagher had come in for Johnson as North End lined up in front of a 12,459 crowd with 1,539 coming from the East Midlands. With Fulham winning yesterday this result has left North End six points behind the play-offs and while most people expect us to win our home games there are no walkovers in the Championship as Forest proved on Saturday. In fact I think they will be one of the challengers next season with Mark Warburton in charge as they have a talented squad of players that have significantly underachieved this season. For North End, though, we really are at the point of no return with the home game against Bristol City on Tuesday evening. I know things can can quickly when one team wins and another loses but we are running out of games and we must beat the Robins on Tuesday if we are to remain in contention before the difficult trips to Leeds and Huddersfield.
On Saturday we entertained former European Cup winners Nottingham Forest but I did not share their fans’ opinion that we had “only come to see the Forest” as this team was a pale imitation of its illustrious predecessors in their glory days under the legendary Brian Clough.The game ended with our opponents continuing to struggle inthe bottom reaches of the table while we remained in the position of looking up hoping tosecure a play off berth when the long season finishes in just over a month’s time.On paper a point did not do either side much good in their respective battles but the need of three points did contribute towards a very open game of football in an entertaining game where the result could have gone either way especially in the closing stages of the match. We began well and had Forest under pressure in the opening few minutes but lost the chance to gain a stranglehold in the game and our opponents came into the match so much that by half time only a brilliant save by keeper Chris Maxwell just before the break stopped them taking a two goal lead and we went into half time trailing by just the odd goal.Following a double substutution and a change in formation after the interval we were a different proposition and soon equalised when McGeady virtually passed the ball into the net.It was a goal of real quality to add to the mercurial Irishman’s ever growing goal portfolio and what a coup it would be for the club if they could somehow secure his services for next season.As with many of our home performances this season we played in fits and starts but once again stalwart Tom Clarke, who was all over the pitch deserved his man of the match award despite having played most of the game with a ripped shirt in what was at times a physical encounter.
Overall a disappointing performance by North End, as they lost ground in the scramble to claw their way into the end-of-season lottery that is the play-offs. Forest deserved the point they took back down the road to the East Midlands and those more neutral than me would say that they maybe deserved all three. But oh, how it looked so different in the opening 10 minutes of the match, as the hosts created a number of decent chances that should have led to at least one goal hitting the back of the net. After that, the visitors took full control of the first half and the only surprise by time of “the call of the Bovril” was that they were not more than 1-0l up. One reason for this was a superb bit of goalkeeping by Chris Maxwell in a one-on-one with Ben Brereton. Maxwell is one of the players who has really took his chance this season, after originally being brought in over the summer as back-up and ‘one for the future’. The dominance shown by the visitors reminded everyone that they have massively underperformed this season to somehow get themselves into a relegation threatened position. On this showing they will not go down. Unsurprisingly, Simon Grayson made two substitutions at the start of the second half and they made an immediate impact. Callum Robinson provided additional pace upfront and the rock of granite that is Alex Baptiste made a much-welcomed return into the heart of the defence. We have really missed this player, as he effectively cut out at lot of play that had been so effective for Forest in the first half. The changes led to a superbly taken Aiden McGeady goal from a Robinson assist with the promise, at that point, of kicking on and winning the game. However, as the half wore on it was the visitors who again became the more likely to score as the game was seen out for a share of the spoils.