Newcastle progressed into the last 16 of the Caring Cup last night courtesy of a last minute extra time goal from Fabricio Coloccini which gave the away side the edge in a seven goal thriller at the City Ground.
The win makes it seven games unbeaten thus far this season as this new Newcastle side continue to defy the critics who had tipped them to struggle. To be honest, I’m not a critic, and even I didn’t expect us to be unbeaten after seven games in Cup and league.
Alan Pardew shuffled the pack and made nine changes for the game with the only two senior players retaining their place being Fabricio Coloccini and Danny Simpson. The other bits of big news were a long awaited appearance for Hatem Ben Arfa and a debut for summer signing Rob Elliot in goal.
Newcastle started off brightly enough and kept possession nicely, but it was the home side who had the first chance on goal through Robbie Findley’s flicked header over the bar inside 10 minutes. Sylvain Marveaux had the visitors first chance on goal although his shot from a Danny Guthrie through ball was blocked by the Forest defence.
In terms of goalmouth action there wasn’t a great deal to shout about in the first half. There was a lot of decent play however, one move of which resulted in our opening goal. Hatem Ben Arfa dropped deep into the midfield and clipped a ball out to Sylvain Marveaux on the left wing who then fired an inch perfect cross onto the head of Peter Lovekrands who gave Lee Camp in the Forest goal no chance.
Half time: Nottingham Forest 0-1 Newcastle
I suppose at this point I’d better give an update on Ben Arfa. The conclusion is that he looks impressive still. Time and again he went on dribbles and showed flashes of skill and he ended up attracting the interest of three Forest players every time he got the ball. Very impressive.
Also impressive were Sylvain Marveaux and, I can’t believe I’m going to say this, James Perch. Marveaux showed some great touches and sublime skill combined with pace out on the left. I remember one instance where the ball looked to be going out for a throw in but he trapped the ball in mid air with one foot and knocked it down the line with his other. Great stuff.
James Perch was rock solid. I actually can’t remember anything getting past him at all and he did everything that was asked of him, and more.
To be honest I was glad of the half-time interval. the 15 minute break gave my neck a respite, but it wasn’t us playing the long ball stuff. Nottingham Forest seemed to be employing a tactic which consisted of getting goalkeeper Lee Camp to pump the ball up the pitch as hard as he could.
And that was how the equaliser materialised just a minute after the restart. Another long punt from Camp found Robbie Findley about 40 yards away from the Newcastle goal. He turned and ran before unleashing a 25 yard shot past the despairing debutant in the Newcastle goal. I personally thought Elliot could have got down quicker.
Forest were much improved in the second half, but it was the away side who took the lead again, and it owed a huge debt of gratitude to Sylvain Marveaux. The former Rennes man received the ball on the left and knocked it between two Forest defenders before being pulled back in the box. A clear penalty, which Peter Lovenkrands dispatched into the back of the net.
That penalty could have been Lovenrands’ hat-trick goal had he not been woeful a few minutes earlier by spurning a great opportunity presented to him by Hatem Ben Arfa who beat five (by my count) Forest defenders before teeing up an unmarked Lovenkrands up only for him to scuff a tame 10-yard shot straight at Lee Camp. Poor to say the least.
Forest equalised with 20 minutes to go thanks to Matt Derbyshire. The former Blackburn man benefited from a weak tackle from Danny Guthrie which allowed Jonathan Greening to play the striker in and he cooly took the ball round Elliot before tapping into an unguarded net.
There were further chances for both sides to grab a winner in normal time. Sammy Ameobi headed towards goal only to be denied whilst Gabriel Obertan screwed a volley over the bar. In fairness the ball was at head height so it was a difficult chance. Not that the bloke behind me noticed that of course. He was too busy rubbishing anything and everything that Newcastle did, including that moment where Ben Arfa beat five men which I mentioned earlier. That should have been a shot apparently and means that Hatem has “lost it as a player”.
Bit of a rant here, but people who claim the moral high ground for supporting the team by going to a game lose their argument when you hear idiots like him. I wanted to rip his throat out at one point but I was too busy perving at the girls in front of me in fairness.
Full-time: Nottingham Forest 2-2 Newcastle
Into extra time the game went and I was starting to get that niggling penalty shootout feeling. That feeling went away briefly however when Danny Simpson managed to scored a complete fluke of a goal after his right-wing cross managed to evade Lee Camp and hit the back of the Forest net. They all count, but there is no doubt in my mind that it was a cross. In fact I can’t see any way that it can be claimed otherwise.
Forest pushed for the equaliser and hit the bar through Joel Lynch before being denied by Rob Elliot at the start of the second half of extra time. They didn’t have to wait too much longer for an equaliser however as Danny Simpson managed to flap on the ball and allow Ishmael Miller to run into the penalty area. His low driven cross evaded everyone except Marcus Tudgay who had a simple tap in to level the scores and seemingly take the game to a penalty shootout.
Tudgay could have won the game after he chipped the ball up for himself to volley just over from an acute angle, but Newcastle were spared the agony of penalty kicks in stoppage time in extra time. Gabriel Obertan’s dinked ball to the far post with the outside of his right foot was inch perfect for Fabricio Coloccini to nod in to send the away fans into raptures.
Full-time (after extra time) Nottingham Forest 3-4 Newcastle
Much will of course be made about the fact that we struggled to beat Forest because the are “only Forest”, but this was “only our reserve side” so it’s worth remembering that.
In short there were some great performances, indifferent ones and shocking ones although overall I’m happy with the way the game panned out. A run out for some fringe players, some game time for others, no injuries, and progression in the Cup. What more can you ask for? Would a home draw against Aldershot be too much to ask for?
This was a truly pulsating game. I’m really glad I decided to go at the last minute and enjoyed every minute of it. It was a good laugh with Jobey07 and Marktoon, I got to see seven goals and some good performances from some players with a win to boot. Good times.
Unfortunately the site went down and I couldn’t repair it on my travels, for which I apologise. Bad times. I’ll try not to let it happen again.
Some of our fans are rather embarrassing though. It seems as though if you don’t fit then you don’t get a break. Take James Perch for example. For me he was nearly the Man of the Match and easily could have been. He tackled and passed well and never put a foot wrong all game, but that wasn’t enough for some who barracked him all game. Hatem Ben Arfa was also a target as some of the stuff he tried failed to be finished by his team-mates, which was Hatem’s fault apparently. I could go on but I’ll stop there as I’m at the risk of moving away from the game itself although I must stress that it’s only a minority who exhibited such moronic behaviour.
Rob Elliot – 5: He didn’t really have a lot to do, but what he did do never filled me with confidence. He got dubbed “E-dog” by Jobey although I subsequently changed that to “hot dog” due to his rather portly stature.
Danny Simpson – 4: Poor. One flukey goal doesn’t mean a lot when you forget how to defend. A horrible performance from the former Manchester United man who once again proved to be a weak link at the back.
James Perch – 7: Strong, composed on the ball and tackled well. I can’t remember him being beaten throughout the entire match. had a point to prove on his return to his old club and didn’t do himself any harm at all. A real contender for Man of the Match. Seriously!
Fabricio Coloccini – 7: Colo was Colo. Calm and assured. He marshalled the defence fairly well. He very nearly dropped a clanger which nearly afforded Ishmael Miller a clear run on goal but he recovered and redeemed himself. Brilliant positioning for the winning goal.
Shane Ferguson – 6: Never really did a lot wrong. Linked well with Marveaux and looked steady away. Needs fitness as he was just about dead by the full-time whistle, but that will come with playing matches.
Danny Guthrie – 6: The G-Unit was steady away and showed some great touches and passing in the middle of the park. He also displayed some poor touches and passing. Average.
Mehdi Abeid – 6: A surprise start for the Frenchman who was thought to be injured. It showed in the end as his performance faded, but for the first hour or so he was neat, tidy, assured and got up and down in support of defence and attack when needed. Not a bad performance at all from the youngster.
Dan Gosling – 5: Another one who faded in the game, but he seemed to fade much earlier than the rest which is why I’ve marked him down. Is it fair to mark someone down for lacking in match fitness? First half he was decent but beyond that he was anonymous.
Hatem Ben Arfa – 7: Only played about an hour, but he was brilliant when he was on the pitch. The last person I saw who could control a ball like him was Pedro in his playing days. Will be a fantastic player for us in the future when he reaches full fitness. Not everything he does will come off, but it will be fun watching it for sure!
Sylvain Marveaux – 8: My Man of the Match. I had expressed concerns about him purely based on the fact that I’d not seen a lot of him even though some people moved to reassure me of his talent. I see what they mean now. Full of pace, trickery and clever play he was a thorn in the side all night. One assist, or two if you count the penalty he won. Like Routledge but much better.
Peter Lovenkrands – 5: I feel harsh giving someone who scored two goals such an average mark, but it’s the best way of reflecting the average level of his performance. He was anonymous aside from the goals and offered little to the team. Constantly lost possession and ran down blind alleys. On this evidence he is way behind Leon Best and Demba Ba in the striking pecking order.
Gabriel Obertan – 6: On as a sub and ended the game at left-back. Showed flashes of brilliance but also frustrated at times. His pace did open things up however and he put in a cracking cross for Colo’s winning goal.
Shola Ameobi – 5: Typical Shola. A few moments of Barcelona Shola mixed with many more moments of regular Shola. Needs to work on learning the offside rule and how stop giving away free-kicks every time he tussles for the ball.
Sammy Ameobi – 7: Typical Sammy. Ran at the Forest defence with confidence. He can do stuff with a ball an Ameobi shouldn’t be able to do! Seems to ghost past defenders and causes real trouble for the opposition. A great prospect, with great potential.
All in all a great result considering what we were missing. Leon Best, Jonas Gutierrez, Yohan Cabaye, Demba Ba, Cheik Tiote, Tim Krul and Steven Taylor were all denied any playing time at all so we have them to come back in. Fair play to the ressies!
At the end of the day you can only beat what is in front of you. Alan Pardew picked the team to do that and whilst I was initially wondering why we hadn’t gone with a more experienced side it’s pretty clear that he got it spot on. He also got his subs spot on and switched tactics during the match which caused Forest no end of problems.
The most important thing is that we go into the hat for the next round of the Carling Cup draw which will take place on Saturday. A decent draw at home would be nice in fairness as we’ve been away in the last two rounds. If we do get said decent draw, and if other draws go our way, then who knows. Do you dare to dream of Wembley?
Howay the lads!
Nottingham Forest (4-3-3): Lee Camp (c); Brendan Moloney, Wes Morgan, Joel Lynch, Chris Gunter; Jonathan Greening, Guy Moussi (Radoslaw Majewski 76), Lewis McGugan (Andy Reid 88); Robbie Findley, Marcus Tudgay, Matt Derbyshire (Ishmael Miller 85)
Subs not used: Paul Smith, Kieron Freeman, Patrick Bamford
Newcastle United (4-2-3-1): Rob Elliot; Danny Simpson, James Perch, Fabricio Coloccini (c), Shane Ferguson; Mehdi Abeid, Danny Guthrie; Dan Gosling (Shola Ameobi 70), Hatem Ben Arfa (Sammy Ameobi 70), SylvaiSubs not used:n Marveaux; Peter Lovenkrands (Gabriel Obertan 80)
Subs not used: Tim Krul, Paul Dummett, Jeff Henderson, Leon Best
Referee: Lee Mason
Attendance: 10,208 (2,187 Newcastle)