Football Blog: Tangerine Flavoured

Saturday, January 7, 2023

Cup FEVER! - the Mighty vs Nottingham Forest

I'm not sure what I expect today. I greeted the draw with a resigned sigh. Forest. At home. That's probably the most boring draw we could have got. Someone bigger and it would have been a good vibe, someone smaller and we have a good chance of going through. An away game would be a day out, maybe somewhere weird. As it is, it's just about the most bland tie you can imagine.

Still, lets not be too miserable about it. It's a game of football not an internal middle management audit or a trip to the morgue to identify a body of a close relative. I've got absolutely no expectations about it and thus, whilst it might be a tepid 3-0 defeat that shows that (quelle surprise) their expensive reserves are better than our cheap ones, it might also be a surprisingly carefree rip-roaring game of football where we play with the shackles off and tear into their ill motivated luxury show ponies.

The end game is simple. We could win the cup. It's unlikely. Y'never know though. Just imagine. Wembley. The last seconds. Somehow we've come back from 3-1 down, inspired by wing wizard Josh Bowler. His performance has been so good, it over shadows even the Gary Madine hat trick that has us in front. Desperate tackles. Brilliant saves. The whistle. The team collapse. The fans collapse. Tears mixed with elation. No one can believe it. This makes everything we've ever lived, even the madness of the Holloway dream seem small. We've won the cup. We've won the fucking cup!!! The opposition look dazed. It doesn't matter who they are. They're not us. High in the stands, commentators screech 'a seismic shock on the football richter scale' and the sound of keyboards clatter as the papers get ready to scream headlines like 'Matthews Memories as Terrific Tangerines Triumph in Cup Classic'

Just imagine it though. Go on. Let go of reality. It's shite anyway. Dreamland is better... Submit... Captain Gaz. Lifting the cup. The roar. The sheer weightlessness of that moment. Your soul. Thousands and thousands of others let out their jubilation. You are part of that. You'll be part of that till the day you die. You'll never be quite the same again. A little bit lighter. A little bit better. 

There's still magic there if you can dream a tiny little bit...


We start well enough. We normally do and it doesn't tend to mean too much by the end of the game. Lyons immediately impresses with some intelligent movement and his desire to get forward. For Lavery and Carey, it's a major bonus - an extra player to pass to. It's hard to play triangles in the corner with only two of you and Lyons instantly looks like he might be the forward thinking full back we've been lacking for some time as he instantly offers himself as an ever moving third point. Shayne digs out an exquisite little behind the legs flick to him. The two of them low five as we win a corner. 

A couple of early chances - Jimbo puts one narrowly wide after a nice move and a little shoulder drop by the left back legend who deserves a song but never gets one and Beesley is a little too late on a ball from the right and as we slow down a little, I'm wondering if we're going to do the usual 'flatter to deceive' act and disappear. 

It turns out we're not. We have a move where it looks like everyone is going to take a shot but no one can quite get it out their feet. I notice how alert Carey is to what's around him, going to hit it and then just shifting his feet and laying it sideways. Poveda runs across the box like football is a side scrolling platform game and somehow no one leathers it at the goal. 

CJ bolts down the left and hangs up a cross. Forest head it up in the air. The Wasp is onto it, stinging the legs of a defender with a snapshot but there is Marvin, calm as you like, rolling it home calmly to send us in front. Next stop Wem-ber-ley

Forest remind us that you've got to do more than score once to win the cup by twanging the bar. It makes weirdly little sound. Shortly after they contrive to skew one just wide and then draw a very good low stop from Maxwell.

CJ belts on to one and crosses literally first time. It's an astonishingly good ball that no one expected. CJ looks bashful. What started as a Forest roar, is now somewhat muted and what felt like an empty-ish set of home stands somehow feels a bit fuller. 


We've done well enough. It's been an odd game. Forest look horrible at the back and their finishing has been woeful. We've looked quite quick and moved the ball well.


Forest come out of the blocks keen to right the wrong of the first half. It seems only a matter of time before they score, but somehow, they don't. They take a touch in front of goal that's too light or too heavy. They find Maxwell racing out to stop a point blank effort with a low hand. They brush the top of the bar. They miss so many in so many different ways that it becomes funny. 

Poveda turns the tide by picking it up, turning as he does in a space that makes a sixpence seems positively large and sending a corkscrewing effort that swerves and dips just over the bar. Beesley makes way for Jerry Yates. YTS Gaz has run around very gamely but I felt like he could do with wearing some American football padding to give him the same kind of impact that the real deal would have had in certain situations. Lets see what Jerry can do with this rare chance to play up front. 

Initially, his contribution is a bit of harrying defending from a ball cleared out the box that I can't imagine any other no9 in the country taking so seriously. He gives his man absolutely no space at all, he's virtually shrink wrapped himself round their winger. 

A terrible bit of defending from Forest, a no look back pass that finds Yates in his more natural role. He control, he tricks his way into the box. He has a look and he feeds Poveda who more or less walks the ball home, threading the ball from one foot to the other with sewing machine precision before tapping it in from a yard out. His top is off. People are charging down the North steps. I'm punching the air. The ground is now well and truly alive

CJ runs. Where's he going? Back to Dougall (on for Patino) who lifts a cheeky ball over the top that sees CJ haring onto it in classic speed skater style, cutting in then absolutely lashing it into the opposite bottom corner of the goal like it's the beginning of the 20/21 season and he's our best player all over again. It's an absolutely brilliant finish from the angle he was at. This is terrific fun! Can we be 3-0 up more often? I like this a lot! 

Poveda is absolutely on fire now. He's ratting about winning the ball, skipping away from their defenders, running in diagonals or mazy lines, he's perfect balance, he's like a slalom skier dipping his shoulder for flags and bouncing up on the next turn. He's a ritual dancer shimmying between the lines of a tribal grouping, He's a salt shaker in a zero gravity environment. How am I going to cope when there's him and Bowler to write about? What if Rogers is good too? I'm going to need more metaphors than one man can muster. Their defence has no answer. He makes a chance for Jerry who does everything right but hit the back of the net, swaying, doing that thing he does to make space, catching it well but whistling it wide. 

It's no matter because the little maestro has it wide and now he's teasing his man, now he's teasing a ball across and there is YATES! He's caught it beautifully, cracking a rifle shot against the underside of the bar and we've got 4! The sniper strikes. All goals are great goals and in the absence of Gary, a Jerry goal is as good as they get. Fucking great finish. 

We want five! We almost get it as everyone rushes to the far post on cross and it doesn't quite sneak far enough. Rogers is on and is also looking handy. He's got a bit more about him physically than I remember and looks more likely to work back than I thought. He pops up on the right and the left wing and at right back. 

They score one. It's far too late. It's almost more painful for them than it is us as it reminds them what could have been had they just hit the target earlier instead of trying to be all cute with their finishes and missing all their chances. 

The whistle goes! 


What a day! I came expecting nothing and I got a great game. We definitely owed more than a little to Forest's poor marksmanship and to the makeshift feel of their defence but we also looked excellent when we got the wind in our sails. I've written more than enough about Poveda in the last few blogs but he's dynamite. I thought Carey played well, distributing the ball crisply, prompting and taking quick decisions. Dougall added a bit when he came on, CJ was decisive today and kept going as opposed to fading out (for that matter, it's also encouraging that Poveda (I can't stop talking about him) was setting up goals late in the game and actually grew into it as opposed to impressing and fading away, which even last week he did) - Jerry was good up front and showed that with some skill around him, he's a mean player to have and I think Marvin was excellent at the back again, which is fantastic to see and Maxwell looked assured today which, wherever you sit on 'Grimmygate' is still a positive thing. 

I couldn't say anyone was poor - Patino to me looks the player most in need of a little headspace and a rest - he dropped a few passes short (he got particularly lucky with one) and got caught in possession but he'll come again and be twice as good as he was today. He was definitely a part of us moving the ball with some pace and his intelligence in reading the greater movement we had is not to be under estimated. That movement as I pointed out at the top was in no small part down to the new lad from Ireland who showed an ability to drive forward, cut inside with the ball, overlap, read play and crucially showed he could stand up and defend as well. I was particularly impressed that he seemed in no way naive to the kind of tricks needed at this level, both in terms of the way he defended but also his willingness to take a foul where it was wise to do so. 

It's one win. I'm getting carried away, but fuck it - I've not written one of these since (I think) PNE at home so I'm going over the top and I'm taking you with me. That was us destroying a side a division higher without Bowler, mostly without Rogers and without a few more of our key players and with a bunch of kids in midfield. We've actually played ok recently - we've not made it count. Today we did and it felt good. 

I wasn't all that fussed about going. I'm glad I did. It looked like the players enjoyed it. I certainly did. 

Onwards (to Wem-ber-ley!) 

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