Norwich City 2 Nottingham Forest 1: Holt! Who goes where?
The 2009/10 season signalled the year of the attacking midfielder. 2010/11 has been the year of the burly forward. Danny Graham. Steve Morison. Luciano Becchio. Nottingham Forest look one burly forward short of where they need to be and Kris Boyd does not appear to be helping matters. They had one a few years back. Grant Holt.
Norwich City striker Holt was always going to be the story when the two sides met at Carrow Road on Friday evening. Partly because he often is when the Canaries take to the field, but also because, as a former Forest player who is now flourishing further up the table, it must have seemed inevitable to the travelling support.
Shaking off fitness concerns ahead of the game, Holt levelled the scores with a powerful header shortly after Nathan Tyson’s backside had given the visitors the lead in the 3rd minute of this crucial encounter.
With Forest edging an entertaining first period, it was left to Holt to supply a second goal for Andrew Surman. Allowed too much time halfway inside the opposition half, his eyes must have lit up when they caught sight of the huge gap that Surman was moving into.
Only an excellent last-ditch challenge from right-back Brendan Moloney denied Holt an opportunity of killing the game three minutes from the end, as Norwich looked to seal an important victory. Paul Lambert’s men have long since proven that they will not be fading away from an automatic promotion push at any stage this season and their answer to the concession of a comedic early goal was, like their entire season, extremely impressive.
With Andrew Surman and Andrew Crofts shuttling back and forth in midfield and Simeon Jackson buzzing around the Forest backline energetically, it was left to Holt to be the calming presence in attack. When they needed someone to hold the ball in the corner in injury time, there could only be one choice.
Dropping off and linking play, Holt’s mere presence clearly provides assurance to his team-mates and the thousands of home supporters who seem less nervy than those of the other clubs towards the top of the Championship. It is all a far cry from those difficult days on the banks of the River Trent, as much of a disappointment to another set of supporters as he is currently idolised by Norwich City fans.
Followers of Nottingham Forest have plenty of heroes: Lee Camp made another excellent save from Jackson in the first half, Luke Chambers was again the most impressive of the back four and Lewis McGugan’s long-range shooting was their biggest threat. But, on this evidence, they are missing a Grant Holt.
It is almost remarkable that Forest have spiralled since they posed the biggest danger to leaders Queen’s Park Rangers. But it seems a familiar story: a Billy Davies side coming up short; a Nottingham Forest team flattering to deceive. With four games left to salvage a play-off spot, Davies is now little over 360 minutes away from serious introspection. There is only so long that his embattled act can last.
There has been plenty wrong in recent weeks, as this article on Seat Pitch neatly summarises with ten reasons for Forest’s downturn in form. Something else worth mentioning is their inability to edge games against promotion rivals – Davies’s side have lost against Swansea, Leeds, Reading and Norwich in the past four weeks and only Leeds managed a greater margin of victory than a single goal.
It is now that part of the season when goals scored by other teams are celebrated almost as vociferously as those of your own. So Tyson’s opener was heralded by fans of Cardiff and Swansea, while the subsequent Norwich comeback was met with sighs of relief from Leeds, Bermondsey, Leicester and Hull.
To a certain extent, Reading fans could sit back and relax. Their side look set for the top six and may even manage to claim one of the two automatic promotion places. Time for supporters of Norwich City and Nottingham Forest to await the results of important games at Turf Moor, the Cardiff City Stadium, Elland Road and the Madejski.
All about second and sixth now. Where’s your money?