Date:Tuesday December 27 2011
Nottingham Forest 0 - 1 Peterborough United
Location: City Ground
Date: 26th December, 2011
Attendance: 24,376 (2,655 Posh fans)
With just one win on Boxing Day in over ten years to their name, you could forgive Posh for not looking forward to their trip to Nottingham Forest, especially as they`ve never taken a point from their east midlands rivals either! But Peterborough United have been determined this season to impress their fans and prove that they are worth their place in the Championship. This game was no exception and it was George Boyd who ended up showing the Forest fans what they missed out on when scoring the only goal of the game.
After two seasons finishing in the play-offs, Forest started the season off as one of the promotion favourites, especially having brought in ex-England manager Steve McLaren. Things haven`t worked out as they`d hoped and even with a change in manager, they are still struggling.
Going into this game, Posh were suffering an injury crisis with the latest casualty being Ryan Tunnicliffe who was a shock absentee to the fans. McCann and Little are still out injured while Frecklington, despite responding to treatment was not fit enough to appear. Lee Tomlin did make the bench, although during the warm-up and when he came on late in the game, he looked tentative and not match fit. With all the injuries, Posh were forced to name yet another youngster on the bench in 17 year old Dan Lawler.
On the plus side, Scott Wootton has returned from injury and took his place in the starting line-up at the base of the midfield diamond.
Forest have failed to score in the last five games but they came out determined to put that record to bed as they looked confident on the ball as they played the ball around. They certainly weren`t a team that looked like they were in the bottom three…well, not from the start they made!
Forest midfielder Paul Anderson had to depart the scenes after only six minutes and was replaced by Gareth McCleary and it was McLeary who created an opening for Lewis McGugan whose swerving shot was palmed away by Joe Lewis in the Peterborough goal.
McCleary then had the next opportunity for the hosts as he cut inside Tom Kennedy and unleashed a stinging shot which Lewis did well to push around the post for a corner.
For Posh, striker Paul Taylor had an indifferent game as he often looked lively and dangerous while at other times he was easily muscled out of it or was simply all by himself surrounded by opposition players with no help from his team mates.
It was Taylor that had Posh`s first effort when he nipped past a couple of Forest players before hitting his firm shot straight at Lee Camp.
After 20 minutes, Posh got the breakthrough after Danny Kearns started a good move sliding a pass through to the overlapping Craig Alcock who in turn played the baal into George Boyd who was just inside the corner of the area. BOYD controlled the ball before effortlessly curling the ball into the far top corner of the net past the despairing dive of Camp.
Boyd had spent the best part of three months on loan at the City Ground two seasons ago and helped them into the play-offs. He only played a bit part during his time their, so he was determined to show the Forest fans just what they missed out on…and boy, were they regretting the decision not to sign him permanently after his goal and overall performance.
Taylor was seeing more possession but unfortunately he kept misplacing his passes.
McLeary had yet another chance, but his header went wide from a Jonathan Greening corner after 26 minutes.
Former Forest player, Emile Sinclair, had a good opportunity to double Posh`s lead but he hit his shot high into the Trent End stand! Posh were getting more into the game as Forest were getting more frustrated. Boyd showed yet again a good turn and pace to leave McGugan struggling to keep up with his and the frustration showed as he cythed Boyd down to earn the first yellow card of the game.
Throughout the game, Taylor was often battling against the Forest backline and was often manhandled but the appalling referee refused to penalise the Forest players.
The referee did have a bad game but it wasn`t just Posh who were left shaking their heads when decisions didn`t go their way. Forest also had calls for fouls and even a corner turned away.
The last time Posh visited the City Ground, they came up against an in-form Lee Camp, and he had to be at his best when Taylor had another effort on goal on 37 minutes when he beat off two challenges before getting his shot away which Camp did well to palm away to safety.
Shortly before the interval, a long ball saw Sinclair beat his man to the ball but his attempted toe-poke past the advancing Camp was blocked.
Half-time: Nottingham Forest 0 - 1 Peterborough United
Forest made one change at the interval with Andy Reid coming on for Majewski.
Forest did come out all guns blazing in an effort to get back in the game but it was Posh who created the first good chance of the half and it was that man Taylor again who saw his effort saved after good work down the wing by Sinclair. During this spell of pressure, Posh struggled to get the ball out to their front pair and when they did, an atrocious first touch by Sinclair just gave the ball straight back to Forest!
Reid was definitely causing more problems than Majewski did as his free kick went well over the bar before Guy Moussi had a header cleared by the impressive Craig Alcock. Marcus Tudgay then saw his lobbed effort go over both Lewis and the goal.
Sinclair had made an excellent tackle in the first half and obviously felt he was now an expert at slide tackles. Unfortunately for him, he mis-timed his tackle and took out Luke Chambers which could easily have been a red card. The referee just showed a yellow though much to Sinclairs relief.
Both sides made substitutions with Derbyshire replacing Tudgay and Tomlin replacing the very poor Sinclair.
Posh managed to gain more possession and following some more excellent play by young Irishman Kearns, Taylor had yet another chance but his effort curled just over the bar. Tommy Rowe then had a couple of chances with one being saved well by Camp who parried the ball away for a corner.
At the other end, Joe Lewis was having an impressive game. He saved a number of goal bound efforts as well as smothering a McLeary shot late on in the game before seeing a Chambers header go over the bar from a corner.
Posh made their second change of the game with the game going into four minutes of added time. Midfielder Joe Newell came on for the tiring Danny Kearns.
There were chances at both ends during these final moments as McGugan was denied brilliantly by Lewis before an effort from Rowe was blocked by Moussi.
Full-time: Nottingham Forest 0 - 1 Peterborough United
POST MATCH QUOTES
Steve Cotterill felt again that his team didn`t deserve to lose as he commented: 'We didn't deserve to get beat but it's pretty obvious that we are struggling to put the ball in the net.
'We put enough balls in their box to have got something from it and we've got to stick our necks on the line to make sure that we do.
'We need one to drop for us but it's important that we stay strong and come through it. We've got to stay with the lads and keep on working to make things change for us ... there is no other way.
'You can tinker with things - as we have - but we are missing players through injury and that is a big loss to us.
'But we will keep doing what we can to change things and hope that we get people fit as soon as possible.'.
Posh boss Darren Ferguson was full of praise for his team: 'Boydy is capable of that but for one reason or another Forest didn't see that when he was here on loan.
'We know the ability he has got and it was a superb effort. I'm just disappointed we didn't add to it and win the game more comfortably.
'We had injury problems today - I nearly had a chance of playing myself - but the lads who came in did really well and took their opportunities.
'It's a win that will give the players a lot of belief. I thought we were comfortable and were a real threat on the counter-attack throughout the game.
'I always felt that if we had scored a second goal we could have had a real day but it is a big win for us and takes us to 31 (points) in the first half of the season.'
Vital Posh Viewpoint
With Posh`s Boxing Day record being appalling, I wasn`t expecting much out of this fixture but overall, it has to be said that an impressive defensive display backed up by a very good performance by the defensive midfielder Wootton made this a very comfortable win.
Craig Alcock is starting to make the right-back slot his own, such has his defensive qualities shone since Mark Little has been out. The only slight criticism is that when he receives the ball and runs forward, he often stops and either plays the ball back to a defensive partner or square to a midfielder. On many occasion, he could quite easily have run further. There again, it is better to retain possession than to cavalier down the wing and lose the ball.
Joe Lewis has also had another impressive game and I would be pulling out all the stops to get him to sign a new contract.
Up front, Taylor is a bit of a Jekyll and Hyde character as he can be brilliant one minute then mis-place simple passes the next. He looked the most dangerous forward on display in this game. His frontline partner Emile Sinclair was again very disappointing. He has speed, when he wants to put the effort in, but his first touch is terrible, he doesn`t like to head the ball and overall contribution is not up to scratch. I know Nicky Ajose is due back at Posh soon and he hasn`t endeared himself to Scunthorpe fans or to Posh boss Fergie, but surely he can put some pressure on Sinclair for his starting spot.
As for Forest, they did have a reasonable amount of pressure, but they look blunt up front. Six goalless games in a row tells you everything you need to know. If they can`t turn the pressure they have into goals soon, they can be looking at League One action next season.
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