Category Archives: Championship

Championship VAR: for better or worse?

With Izzy Brown’s winning goal against Charlton reviewed post match as handball, would the Championship be better off with VAR?

But would the implication of VAR have made the night any less frustrating for an unlucky Charlton team? It is clear that VAR is yet to be perfected in the Premier League therefore if it was to be used in the Championship it would be certain to cause further controversy.

The Championship, known for its intensely contested and physical football, would be in for interval filled games if VAR was too be established before its system is perfected.

It can argued the biggest downfall of the VAR system at the moment is the time it takes to come to a decision, whether it be correct or not. Without doubt this would lead to disgruntlement from the fans, players and managers surrounding the fluency of the 90 minutes.

Despite this, in cases such as the Hatter’s ‘illegitimate’ match winning goal, managers especially argue that VAR should be in place for one hundred percent accuracy of the game. Which yes, if VAR was in use the goal would have been reviewed, but as we have seen in the Premier League it is not always correct. Raheem Sterling’s goal against Chelsea was wrongly ruled out for offside through the process of VAR, with the officials proving they are still able to make a wrong decision during a live game. VAR is just not yet at without it’s flaws.

With this is mind it seems dubious to introduce VAR to another football league as the system appears just as unpredictable as football would be without it.

FOREST 1-0 DERBY

Nottingham Forest made it 3 consecutive east-midlands derby wins for the first time since 1990, by beating the Rams 1-0 at the City Ground. The win also means it is 8 consecutive visits and 7 years since Derby’s last win in Nottingham and keeps Forest in the Top 6 whilst Derby stay in the bottom half of the league table.

The goal came following a mistake by Derby right back Jaden Bogle, when a loose pass across his defensive line went straight to Grabban who smartly finished first time into the bottom corner. Grabban spoke about the goal:

“I had a little glance at where the keeper was and it looked like he hadn’t covered the near post so I just tried to aim for that and fortunately it went in.” He added: “The main thing was that we got the win. It was good for the fans, so I’m very happy. Their support gives us that little bit of a boost.”

In scoring, Grabban upped his tally for the season to seven, meaning he has now scored 80 times in the EFL since the start of the 2013-14 campaign, four more than any other player.

The match started evenly amid a raucous atmosphere at The City Ground and it was Forest keeper Brice Samba who was the first keeper called into action, doing well to keep out Tom Lawrence’s shot from inside the penalty area following a good run by Bogle. Lawrence was unsurprisingly constantly jeered by the home faithful following the drink driving scandal, however, he was probably Derby’s main threat and handled the reception well. That was until a second-half challenge on Yuri Ribeiro which he saw yellow.

It was extremely competitive, with both sides fighting for the ball and putting in committed challenges. Bogle and Ben Watson were both shown yellow cards for fouls on halfway, whilst Ryan Yates was somewhat fortunate not to be added to the list of booking’s following a challenge on Clarke, who had to be replaced.

Forest were effective in pressing the Derby backline and won the ball high up the pitch a few times, possibly leading to the goal. Forest’s best efforts in the first half both came from winger Sammy Ameobi who shot twice from the left-hand corner of the penalty area to force Derby Keeper Roos into decent saves.

The second half started with The Reds firmly in the ascendancy, applying plenty of pressure on the Derby goal. Several crosses were fizzed into the area, with only glancing headers from a Derby defender keeping the ball away from danger. It was just before the hour-mark when Derby were their own worst enemy in making the costly mistake which gave Forest the lead.

Forest sensed they could put the game beyond doubt as Derby were on the ropes following the mistake, but couldn’t find the second goal. Derby came back into the game towards the end and the closest they came to an equaliser was when Jack Marriott had a sniff of goal, but The Reds defended resolutely to hold onto their one-goal lead and claim a brilliant victory against their arch-rivals.

Man of the match

Tiago Silva – The Portuguese midfielder put in an outstanding performance, he had great energy, tenacity and put in some great tackles. Along with that, he showed his skill with some lovely touches to beat opposition players. When Silva was signed from Benfica in the summer many forest fans assumer he would an alternative to fellow Portuguese playmaker João Carvalho, however, he has shown he is a more all-round midfielder than João.

Forest head coach Sabri Lamouchi was delighted to claim victory in his second East Midlands derby of the season. Lamouchi was satisfied with his side’s second-half display which he believed was a marked improvement on the first 45 minutes. Speaking after the game, he said:

“It was a difficult, emotional game and maybe that is why we found it difficult in the first half. The second half was much better and fortunately, they made a mistake at the back and Grabbs produced another fantastic finish like the killer that he is. It was important for us to be compact, patient and focused and in the end, I think we deserved the victory because in the second half we went out for the three points. After the goal, I put more attacking players on the field to try and get that second goal but it wasn’t meant to be. It has been a good day, the perfect way to spend my birthday, and I am happy that our supporters could enjoy it too. When we play with this sort of attitude and character then we can always win games like this. We know we can still play better and control the ball better but it is important that we take three points when we don’t play at our best. It is a fantastic result and I’m happy because we’ve made our fans proud of the players. Now we can go into the international break with a positive mentality before we come back to play Bristol City.”

Nottingham Forest v Derby County Preview

It doesn’t get any bigger than this for Nottingham Forest and Derby, in particular, the Fans, they look forward to it from the moment the fixtures are announced in pre-season.

No other match brings the anticipation, excitement, and nerves that this one does. A win will last long in the memory whilst a defeat will haunt you, it’s quite simply the biggest match of the season.

The sides have already met at the City Ground this season, just over 2 months ago Forest ran out comfortable 3-0 winners.

How ever satisfying that night was, this will mean so much more as that night was almost 2 second-string sides.

TEAM NEWS

Forest will more than likely still be without key trio Michael Dawson, Samba Sow and Alfa Semedo. The trio’s absence played a massive role in the recent defeats to Wigan and Hull City, Dawson was said to back in training this week, however a place in the team remains unlikely.

The return of Ryan Yates in midfield helped fill the void left by Sow and Semedo in last weekend’s win over Luton.

I would largely stick with that line up with only Jack Robinson coming in to provide extra defensive nous at left back for Yuri Ribeiro.

Tom Lawrence, who has endured a challenging couple of months after being convicted of drink-driving, netted two goals in Saturday’s Pride Park win over Middlesbrough, a fourth straight home success. He is a key man for Derby, but in my opinion he shouldn’t be available for selection following the drink-driving incident, which also involved teammate Mason Bennett and saw Captain Richard Keogh injured for the season and subsequently suspended by the club.

The Professional Footballers’ Association has said it will “robustly defend” Richard Keogh after his dismissal, the BBC has reported.

Lawrence and Bennett were both fined six weeks’ wages by the Rams and pleaded guilty to drink driving. “We will robustly defend our member because we feel he has been unfairly treated,” said a PFA spokesman.

Keogh, 33, suffered a knee injury in the crash on 24 September and will be out for around 15 months. His contract was due to expire in 2021.

It is understood Derby offered Keogh a revised deal on reduced wages. The player will appeal against Derby’s decision and the PFA have told him they will back him in that and any subsequent challenge to his dismissal because they do not view the treatment of Keogh as being in line with the action taken against Lawrence and Bennett.

In announcing Keogh’s dismissal, Derby said they would not comment further until the outcome of any appeal was known.

In any other professionalism if you are convicted of a serious crime your job would be at risk. The fact that Lawrence is a professional footballer, who is in the public eye and gets to play is sending out the wrong message.

Lawrence is set for unpleasant reception on Saturday but says Derby will be ready for the cauldron atmosphere awaiting them at – and is plotting to silence a sold-out City Ground.

“We all know how big this game is coming on Saturday so we will be ready for it.

“Yes, as expected,” the 25-year-old then said when asked about the vibrant Trentside atmosphere, saying his teammates know what’s needed to record a rare win in Nottingham.

The Rams are looking to claim a first win on Trentside since September 2012, and in the process dent Forest’s promotion hopes.

Form Guide

Forest got back to winning ways last weekend with a 2-1 success away at Luton, this was a vital victory following 2 successive defeats at Wigan and Home to Hull City as the last thing Forest would have wanted would have been to go into the Derby game on the back of three successive defeats.

Although, Forest defender Joe Worrall says, “On track? We were never off it” previous to these defeats Forest hadn’t lost in the league since the opening day of the season and they sit 5th in the table (with a game in hand due to the match against reading being postponed) and have an opportunity to close the gap on league leaders, West Bromwich Albion who are five points in front.

Derby are 10 places below, but only four points behind Forest.

Their home form has kept them in touch with the top six, however, on the road, things have been marked different for the Rams who haven’t tasted victory since the opening night at Huddersfield.

It is sure to be a heated encounter, as ever. A strong referee that won’t fall for any nonsense will be required, there will be some strong challenges and players trying to deceive the referee and it is vital he doesn’t lose control.

He can’t produce unnecessary cards or let players get away with anything early on.

Darren England will be the man in the middle for the match, he has officiated two Forest matches already this season, with the Reds suffering defeats on both occasions.

The pre-match build-up will be added to as Forest will pay tribute to all those who lost their lives in conflict ahead of the match at the City Ground.

Before kick-off, there will be a performance of the Last Post from the Military band, while both sets of players will be sporting the poppy on the front of their shirts for the game itself.

Derby County skipper, Richard Keogh sacked for gross misconduct

Republic of Ireland international, Richard Keogh has been sacked by Derby County over his involvement in a drink driving crash, that’s resulted in two of his team mates arrested.

The 33 year old sustained a serious knee ligament damage that has ruled him out for up to 15 months after midfielder, Tom Lawrence crashed into a lamppost.

Both Lawerence and forward, Mason Bennett pleaded guilty to drink driving.

Keogh started his career off at Stoke City but failed to make an impact and went to Icelandic side, Víkingur on loan before moving to Bristol City; after only 40 appearances and four loan spells at Wycombe Wanderers, Huddersfield Town, Carlisle United and Cheltenham Town.

The defender was sold to Carlisle United for an undisclosed fee, where he went on to make 95 appearances.

After an impressive spell in League One, he was sold to Championship side, Coventry City, where he became a real fans favourite. He played every minute of every game for the 2010-11 season and scored his first goal for Coventry on the last game of the season against Norwich. He was voted Players’ Player of the Year at the end of the 2010–11 season awards for Coventry City.

Keogh played every game for Coventry since signing for the club, until his unfortunate dismissal in the game at home to Doncaster Rovers on 21 April 2012, which brought an end to a run of 91 consecutive games played.

Despite Coventry City’s relegation from the Championship, Keogh won the Player of the Year award for the second consecutive season at Coventry’s end of season awards. He also won the Players’ Player of the Year awards.

After a brilliant two year spell at Coventry, Keogh had to be sold for ongoing money problems the Sky Blues faced.

Keogh was sold to Derby and went on to make 355 appearances for the Rams. Where he won six individual awards as Player of the year, Players’ Player of the year and Supporters’ Player of the year.

In a statement regarding Keogh leaving Derby, the Championship club said that they had “completed the disciplinary hearing regarding Richard Keogh in respect of his involvement in the events of Tuesday 24th September” and that his contract had been “terminated with immediate effect”.

“As we have said from the outset, the club will not tolerate any of its players or staff behaving in a manner which puts themselves, their colleagues, and members of the general public at risk of injury or worse, or which brings the club into disrepute,”

However, Keogh was not driving either car and was just a passenger. Lawerence and Bennett, who were both driving, were fined six weeks’ wages by the club, while Derby magistrates’ court ordered the players to carry out 180 hours of unpaid work, gave them a 12-month community order and banned them from driving for two years.

Nottingham Forest v Reading Postponed

My Initial reaction as a fan to Saturday’s match being postponed due to a waterlogged pitch was one of annoyance.

Forest are in need of a win to put the disappointment of 2 successive defeats behind them and move back into the top 6.

On reflection, the safety of the players is of paramount importance and cannot be risked and as the pictures below show, the correct decision was made. The rearranged fixture has yet to be arranged.

One thing that Forest did to make the most of a bad situation was to donate 3,000 food parcels to the homeless. Instead of letting the pies, pasties and sandwiches go to waste; the club decided to give it to Framework; a homeless charity based in Nottingham, this is the second time it has happened.

Fans praised the move, with one saying, “I love what this club has become – it’s every bit as important as what happens on the pitch as far as I’m concerned.”
Another added: “Well done all at NFFC! A kind gesture that puts a bit of faith back into Human kindness.”

I have to go along with these comments and “Why are more clubs not doing this? It makes perfect sense. The food would’ve been wasted otherwise as Forest don’t have another home match scheduled until the 9th of November (2 weeks from original matchday).

Nottingham’s homelessness is a big problem and gestures such as these go some way to helping.

Back on the pitch, the postponement has meant that Forest’s injured party have longer to recover before a match is played. Michael Dawson, Samba Sow and Alfa Semedo are all on the injury list and their absence has played a massive influence on the two defeats.

In both matches, they have been outmuscled in midfield, which is the problem that Sow and Semedo were brought to the club in the summer to solve. They have also missed Dawson’s leadership at the back having conceded many more chances and goals since his injury.