Andy Munro writes about Blues’ win in Nottingham.
‘Tis the season to be jolly and after the Derby debacle, Rowett’s boys made sure that things ended up with a tidy seasonable offering for the travelling Blues faithful.
Blues, of course, aren’t that good that they don’t have to dig in and, early on, it was trench warfare as Forest came over the top with all guns blazing. Despite this, the team held firm as their defence, at times, literally threw themselves in front of the ball with all four defenders outstanding, albeit with it starting stickily for Jon Grounds against the pacey Antonio. In fact, Gary Rowett is getting boringly (but successfully) predictable in keeping the same side despite the Boxing Day battering.
There were difficult moments but Blues kept their shape and gradually their dogged determination started to reap rewards. Firstly, Cotterill (who yet again wasn’t having the best of games) scored direct from a well-driven daisycutter straight from a freekick. Minutes later, the same player was at it again as, following a short corner, his shot was the beneficiary of a crafty Donaldson back heel to put Blues two up.
In fairness, Forest are no mugs despite their recent run of poor form, and they stormed back as, yet again, Blues battened down the hatches. Amazingly, a third soon followed on the break after excellent work by Shinnie (a phrase practically redundant just two months ago) resulted in his shot being parried into the path of Donaldson who made no mistake to celebrate his ton by hitting the back of the onion bag.
It was a Blues v Reading ‘pinch me’ moment but, after the restart, Forest came out of the blocks like Usain Bolt – and why wouldn’t they with the mental picture of a snarling Psycho Pearce no doubt uppermost in their minds? Again, Blues repelled all boarders before slipping into a comfort zone as they saw the game out bolstered by several subs including Ziggy, no doubt sent on to annoy and demoralise the opposition.
In fairness, Forest did eventually and deservedly peg one back but, by then, the Blues players were mentally back in the dressing room enjoying a well deserved cup of char. Mid-table in the Championship might not mean much if you’re a Man City mercenary but to Blues fans it means the world following a couple of years of footballing and financial mayhem….and we’re now looking upwards, starting to dream…..