Championship Round Up – Saturday 24th April 2010.
In this the penultimate week of games for many teams in the Championship, it is a critical time in the season for many in the division. With plenty of teams still involved in games which could have a big effect on how their season concludes, squads up and down the country took to the field in the hunt for a potentially pivotal result.
Nottingham Forest v Plymouth Argyle
Jim Knight at the City Ground
With Forest’s play off status already secured, some could argue that this game could be viewed as less important that others in the midland clubs season. Billy Davies however, was not one of them, his Forest side faced Plymouth with the same drive, energy and enthusiasm that they have had all season at The City Ground. Over 22,000 supporters gathered for the final home game of the season and were expecting a result against a Plymouth side whose relegation was confirmed last week.
The home side began the brighter with slick passing and a composed approach, while Plymouth looked rather short of ideas going forward and found themselves in promising positions but failed to find a final ball of any quality. After 7 mins Guy Moussi placed an incisive ball and sent top scorer Robbie Earnshaw through on goal, but he shot wide of the target, failing to trouble Stockdale in the Plymouth goal. A minute later Earnshaw found himself in behind the Mariners defensive line again and this time fired a shot in but Stockdale was equal to the task, turning the striker’s effort behind for the first corner of the game.
As the game progressed Forest continued to press and their superior quality showed through on 19 minutes. Radolsaw Majewski slid a perfectly weighted through ball into the path of Earnshaw who showed the defensive a clean pair of heels and slid the ball home to claim his 15th league goal of the season and giving the home side a deserved one goal lead. Forest continued to press forward and separate attacks saw Plymouths Rede Johnson and Richard Eckersley booked for late challenges by referee Neil Swarbrick. Plymouth then attempted to get back on level terms by running very directly at the centre back pairing of Kelvin Wilson and Wes Morgan. Alan Judge hit a low shot and forced Forest ‘keeper Lee Camp into his first save of the game before the defence managed to scramble clear, a stop worth of the Player of The Year accolade which Camp recently received from the club.
This seemed to serve as a wake-up call for the home side and Guy Moussi found himself in space on the right wing, he fizzed in a low cross which cannoned off Dexter Blackstock and found its way into the back of the net after striking defender Bondz Ngala who found himself in the wrong place at the wrong time. With Forest now 2-0 up and in control of the match after 34 minutes the home side looked to press home their advantage with Dexter Blackstock and James Perch attempting to, but failing to trouble Stockdale before the first half ended. Plymouth’s bad luck was confounded when Rada Johnson had to leave the pitch in stoppage time.
In the second half Forest continued to threaten, albeit more sporadically, at times content to sit back on their two goal cushion and soak up pressure as their opponents searched for a way back into the game. The Forest faithful were already in great spirits and a Mexican wave started in The Brian Clough stand managed two whole laps of The City Ground, emphasising the jubilant mood within the ground as fans anticipated celebrating their teams achievements. The ever dangerous Dexter Blackstock headed over the bar from a Chris Cohen cross seven minutes into the second half. After this the game seemed to lull into a tempo which mirrored the image of a lazy afternoon by the Trent with both sides unable to create clear cut opportunities. Chances began to fall for the Mariners eventually, with Bradley Wright-Phillips attempting to half the deficit but his effort was blocked by the impressive Morgan in the Forest defence. Icelandic international midfielder Kari Arnason then headed a good chance over Lee Camps goal and extinguished any realisticchange of the south coast club salvaging a result.
Meanwhile the tireless running of Robbie Earnshaw and Nathan Tyson continued to probe the Plymouth defence when Forest broke forward.
The warm conditions continued to take their toll on the pace of the game and sights of goal became less frequent as the game wore on. As the stewards massed around the perimeter of the pitch to prevent an invasion but the ecstatic Forest support, Paul Anderson latched onto substitute Lewis McGugan’s pass and finished neatly to seal the victory and adding icing to the play-off cake for Billy Davies’ side. A three goal margin somewhat flattered the home side but the gulf in quality up front was clear in a clash between a side who are striving for a return to the top tier of English football and a side who are preparing for a season which will see Home Park host matches from the third tier.
Barnsley 0 – 1 QPR
Bristol City 2-1 Derby
Cardiff 3-2 Sheffield Wednesday
Doncaster 4 – 3 Scunthorpe
Middlesbrough 1 – 1 Coventry
Newcastle 2 – 2 Ipswich
Peterborough 0 – 1 Blackpool
Preston 0 – 1 Leicester
Sheffield United 2 – 0 Swansea
Watford 3 – 0 Reading