If possession really is nine-tenths of the game, Nottingham Forest defied the odds by beating MK Dons on Saturday.
Unbeaten in their last five games, Forest came out of the traps like a team possessed at the weekend. Nelson Oliveira fired us into a second minute lead before the majority of the ‘Carlsberg Crew’ had located their seats. Mendes fed Oliveira down the right flank and the in form striker did the rest. He produced an excellent turn and curled his left foot shot across Martin to perfection.
The Dons responded well and almost equalised after ten minutes, Dorus De Vries produced a stunning save from Hall’s free kick. Before you had chance to draw your breath, David Martin denied Mendes by virtue of a similar save at the opposite end of the field. It mattered not because Mendes was on hand to put Forest 2-0 ahead just minutes later. He flicked home Pinillos’s excellent cross at the second attempt.
Smiles and back slaps a plenty for the fans around me in the stand, as people anticipated a landslide. Had Nelson Oliveira not missed an absolute sitter just a minute later then a cricket score may have been possible.
However, MK continued to control the possession and had Forest penned in for the remainder of the first period. They flooded the midfield and produced some really good football. We were made to look like the away side as a matter of fact, but the telling difference was the Don’s inability to convert their chances. Proof that Nicky Maynard was rightly rejected by Freedman in pre season.
On another day we might have buckled but we worked incredibly hard off the ball, the midfield in particular were fantastic. Lansbury and Vaughan really grafted and were excellent in breaking up the play, time after time.
Milton Keynes started where they left off (not SW19) and continued to get the ball down and play. Despite my utter disdain regarding their franchise I have to say that they really impressed me on Saturday, credit to Karl Robinson it has to be said. They had everything but the goal and this was to be their undoing.
Forest finally had a second half chance just after the hour mark, Henri Lansbury’s excellent free kick was finger tipped passed the post by Martin. Martin’s opposite post saved him just a minute later, Oliveira produced a stinging drive from 30 yards that deserved better.
Then came the big turning point; the excellent Danny Pinillos picked up a worrying injury and was replaced by Jack Hobbs. Given the defensive reshuffle and the introduction of Josh Murphy for MK, the away side hammered us for the remainder of the game (the backslappers soon reverted to their fickle boos).
Murphy was fantastic and began to cause havoc. No surprise then when he won a penalty after 79 minutes. Maynard’s spot kick was brilliantly saved by De Vries but it proved to be a temporary reprieve.
Murphy linked up with Lewington and pulled a goal back for the visitors, nothing less than he deserved. For some reason Dougie Freedman saw fit to bring on Liam Trotter again, a massive mistake! He ambled around as usual and managed to touch the ball once during his 15 or so minutes on the field. It was counter-productive; this guy puts us under more pressure when he comes on and I can’t get my head around it. Most worrying is the fact that Freedman wants to renew his loan.
The side formerly known as Wimbledon did not deserve a point against Forest but as I said at the beginning they controlled the possession for sure. Collectively Forest impressed me, there seems to be a unified respect for each other on and off the field. Mendes had a fine game and was voted sponsors man of the match but another man caught my attention. A player that I’ve criticised this season; Henri Lansbury. I thought he was outstanding and personified the captain’s role by continually winning and distributing the ball to good effect.
The victorious Forest team ventured out for Christmas drinks later that evening and some kind of meal. I don’t know whether they had any dessert but I reckon Eric Lichaj treated himself to a cup cake on returning home!