Hallowe’en has certainly become a frightening time for Nottingham Forest fans, especially in the haunted house of Al Hasawi.
Saturday’s latest defeat at Reading saw the Reds plummet to within a solitary point of the Championship relegation zone. Every corner of this once-great club seemed to be cursed as the fast-fading sun set on the eve of All Saints Day. There are problems everywhere, both on and off the field, and they only seem to be getting worse.
As Forest took to the pitch on Saturday, the ‘Fawaz Out’ banners were blatantly visible, and I for one do not have a problem with them, to be honest. The whole issue of the impending takeover is becoming very tedious and tensions are running high. So much so that our supporters were actually fighting each other at the match. The term ‘divide and conquer’ sprang to mind when I heard about the internal scuffles and there is only one man to blame for this.
The 1,600 strong following from Nottingham were hoping that a first away win and accompanying clean sheet would raise the spirits at the Madejski Stadium. But thanks to some ghosts of the past, it wasn’t to be.
It took just nine minutes for the Royals to take the lead through Gareth McCleary as Vladimir Stojkovic fumbled John Swift’s 30-yard strike and the former Forest man stroked home the rebound from just inside the box.
The away side could, and should, have equalised and maybe even taken the lead. Ben Osborn, Pajtim Kasami and Eric Lichaj all came within inches of the net, with Kasami guilty of two glaring misses, whilst Lichaj engineered his own screamer with a sublime drag-back. Despite going in a goal down at the break, it was encouraging to see that chances were being created.
The second period again saw some attacking endeavour by the Reds and also the early introduction of Britt Assombalonga, in place of Apostolos Vellios. The Greek forward may not be an accomplished lone striker but he would complement Britt perfectly in a pairing. However, who wants two up front, eh?
Danny Fox and Nicolao Dumitru also entered the field of play before the final whistle, but once again they were unable to make any real impact on the result.
Despite Forest controlling the second period, the turning point came just before the hour mark. Lichaj found himself with just Al Habsi to beat in the Reading goal but blasted his shot wide from 12 yards out, leaving the American furious with himself.
As usual, another Forest old boy was on hand to punish his former employers. Chris Gunter sneaked into the area virtually unnoticed and fired past Stojkovic, following a lucky bounce off Chris Cohen to set him up.
A few boos and jeers erupted from various pockets of the away supporters as the horror story that is Nottingham Forest continued. The reality and severity of the situation was all too evident at full-time.
The away end lit up like a thousand Chinese lanterns as numerous smart phones Googled the Championship standings. The horror story had yielded yet another chapter and becomes all the more scary by the day.
Despite the doom and gloom, it was great to see young Joe Worrall make his debut for Forest. He applied himself well and is yet another successful product of the club’s academy. Gary Brazil and Co are certainly giving us something to be positive about. It’s absolutely no fluke that so many of his graduates are
making the step-up to league football with confidence. I will be down at the Nigel Doughty Academy very soon for my first look at this season’s prospects and I’m sure I won’t be disappointed.
That said, in my 30 years as a Nottingham Forest supporter, this is, without doubt, the worst situation I’ve ever witnessed for the club as a whole. It is indeed a horror story and BIG changes need to happen very soon if we are to get out of this mess. In the haunted house of Al Hasawi, there seems to be a real shortage of treats, and an abundance of nasty little tricks.