Fuller Flavour: 'We have turned performances around both on and off the pitch. The tide is turning!'
© Copyright Stephen Waller
For much of the past two seasons, writing this column has felt like Groundhog Day every week. Last year I could have written the same column every week and just changed the finer details of opposition and names where appropriate, writes Karl Fuller.
You remember those days, right? The football was boring, fans were leaving in their hundreds, the atmosphere was as flat as a pancake and we were at odds with our then manager.
Now, I feel like I’m at the Groundhog Day juncture again, but one with a totally different feeling. Another draw, another decent performance, another cracking atmosphere and another occasion where we are left wondering how we did not go on to win the game.
The second-half on Saturday was as pulsating a 45 minutes as we have witnessed all season. We literally did everything but score – well we did but more on that in a moment – and as against other play-off hopefuls in Derby, West Brom and Bristol City in recent weeks, Nottingham Forest became the fourth side to earn a draw when they so easily could have lost. The tide is turning folks.
Whilst Town got off to the perfect start, it wasn’t the best of starts for yours truly. I have a habit of leaving the pub too late and am rarely in my seat by 3pm on a Saturday home game.
I met a friend before the game who I have not seen for a long time. Not only did we leave it late leaving the pub, we carried on our conversation for longer than we should have done when separating for our respective turnstiles.
On my walk down Portman Road, I heard a cheer for what was a goal but assumed that as the cheer was not overly loud, it was a goal to Forest.
Imagine my surprise when I turned to Twitter to find the official ITFC account announcing a goal for Collin Quaner. Damn, I’d gotten used to us not scoring early goals and therefore not having a desperate need to be in my seat so early!
I have had a word with myself and will leave the pub earlier from now on.
Leading up to the game, there were concerns that a certain Keith Stroud was to be the man in the middle. We have history, make no bones about that. All was going so well but perhaps it was a sign of things to come when between Stroud and his assistant, they ruled out a perfectly good Daryl Murphy goal.
At the interval, there was little to suggest how good a performance was to come. Alan Judge bamboozled his marker to break free and send over a peach of a cross that Jon Nolan was unlucky to head wide and when the two combined for Nolan to score from a free-kick, everyone in the ground was bemused as to why it didn’t count.
Apparently, Stroud was not ready for the free-kick but on watching it back, he only blew his whistle and ordered a retake once the ball crossed the line. How many times do you see a referee award a free-kick and it is taken quickly and the referee allows play to continue? Fair enough if he was not ready but it’s another example of an inconsistency that frustrates the hell out of us fans.
Kayden Jackson was clearly fouled right in front of my row b position and it was another odd decision not to award a penalty. Then right at the death, we bring Toto Nsiala on and we’re all led to believe a substitution constitutes another 30 seconds of added on time and when the free kick was taken a few seconds later, Stroud blows his whistle and there’s no time for a corner. So, 30 seconds extra is seemingly not correct?
On my train journey home, a few Forest fans commented on how we can be bottom when we play like that and the great support our fans give. The simple answer of course is we just cannot turn the draws into wins.
But what we have managed to do is turn the performances around both on and off the pitch. Keep playing like that and wins will return.