Well that was much closer than it should have been - AGAIN! And to those who claim that you get a better understanding of the game if you are there rather than watching on TV or on a good INTERNET stream, all I can say is that I had no idea why either of the penalties were awarded watching live!
But thank God they were because yet again we looked impotent from open play for a good 80% of the game. First half we were awful. Noble probed and made a few good passes and Faubert raided down the right flank with surprising energy but predictably poor results. To be fair he sent over two good crosses in the first half and put one on a plate for Cole in the second - which Carlton headed pathetically wide - but those two apart, we were clueless.
Baldock was busy but offered no kind of threat on goal. Cole was lumbering and offered no kind of threat on goal. Nolan was largely anonymous and offered no kind of threat on goal. Collison dropped deeper and deeper and offered no kind of threat on goal. Diop has scored one goal in six years so enough said!
Forest looked far and away the most likely to score first half. McCartney was afforded no protection on the left hand flank and was done three or four times. Fortunately the crossing was poor and the finishing - when a Forest player connected in the box - poor. Anybody not in the know would have guessed that Forest were the team in the top two and West Ham the side struggling at the wrong end of the table. Our "chances" boiled down a missed deflection from Nolan and a tame shot from outside the box by Noble.
And then Referee Bates - all 50 years of paunch - extended his arthritic arm and pointed to the spot on the stroke of half time. Talk about a bolt from the blue! Where we were sitting in the Chicken Run, we had no idea what had happened and up until that point, Bates and his assistants had ignored repeated pushing and shoving by Forest defenders. At one point Baldock was almost shoved into orbit, right in front of the officials, and nothing was given. The natives around me were getting well agitated and, even after the penalty was scored, the general opinion at half time was that we were "fcuking shit" and that the team had played like a bunch of "fcuking cnuts". And I wasn't about to disagree!
Second half we were better, much better, but Forest should have equalised before Master Bates and his Assistant awarded us our second dubious penalty. Green was forced into a save as Forest ripped through the centre of our defence and the rebound was somehow scrambled or deflected behind for a corner. And from the corner, Cole, on the near post, either deflected the cross , or got out of the way, and the ball appeared to travel right across the goal and strike the far post. Talk about hearts in mouth!
But that seemed to spark us into action. The next fifteen minutes were good, bloody good, but it was all happening at the opposite end of the pitch. Collison woke up, waltzed past three Forest defenders and forced Camp into a superb save. Lansbury forced Camp into another good save and Baldock joined in with Camp again getting in a block, only for Collison to blaze wide of an open goal.
When the second penalty was awarded, all the tension disappeared. Faubert suddenly started attacking the full back and crossing from the byline and Cole missed a sitter, heading wide that rare thing, a perfect Faubert cross. And the game was as good as over as a contest.
Tomkins was awarded Man of the Match as a reward for signing his contract extension and then, lo and behold, put the ball into McGugon's path (it was a weak tackle) for the Forest goal - a real belter!
Allardyce has admitted that we weren't at our best - and that is an understatement! But then, when have we been at our best? Back in September wasn't it?
We are top - but ask Forest fans how and they will tell you that Master Bates is the most appropriately named official ever!
Player ratings: Green 6 Faubert 7, Tomkins 6, Reid 7, McCartney 5, Diop 5, Collison 6, Noble 7, Nolan 5, Baldock 6, Cole 1 Subs: Lansbury 6, Piquionne 1, Hall 7 (Really impressive apart from one dreadful corner!)