Friday, 6 September 2013

Heroes & Villains part 1: Goals scored so far

This season I wanted to keep a closer eye on how and why Forest's goals (for and against) were being scored, as it can tell us a lot about a team tactically - for example, Forest under Billy Davies last season began conceding a lot of goals from crosses, coming mainly from the area in front of our right full-back; it highlighted a weakness in preventing and dealing with high balls under Billy. I intend examining every goal scored and conceded, and over the season will try to build up a larger picture.

I must point out at this point that some of this is going to be a little subjective; this blog isn't merely about my opinions, I want to get to the bottom of things so if you find flaws in my reasoning, help me out and let me know - if there's something in what your saying, or I've missed something, or there is an error lurking, I'll happily upgrade, in fact the more people who stick their oar in, the better picture we'll have of why and how Forest are scoring & conceding.

1. Huddersfield (1-0) - Henri Lansbury
Huddersfield were defending well, maintaining a disciplined two banks of four with their attackers also becoming a nuisance. Forest tried to tempt our opponents out of position by pushing forward the full-backs, but Huddersfield held firm, defending professionally and hitting us on the counter attack. In the end it required something extra, provided by Chris Cohen, who played a 1-2 with Simon Cox, making a run through our opponents defence. It was a simple move, effective because it merely added a new attacker to an area in which Huddersfield were not prepared for. The defence had been rigid the entire game, ironically Cohen's run used this against them; they were all concentrating on doing their usual job and refusing to be dragged out of position, when Cohen ran through none of them were allocate to pick him up. Their inflexibility cost Huddersfield a goal. Cohen ran through and crossed for Lansbury to tap in - this goal was all about Cohen's endeavour.

As an aside, notice where Forest's strikers, Mackie & Derbyshire, are for this goal. They are not the farthest men forward, Forest's attack were very fluid and once again Billy was not using traditional 'strikers', instead using his front men, much of the time, to keep the opposition defenders busy while the real threat came from the second wave.

Goal: Lansbury. Assist: Cohen. Key Contributions: Cox

2. Blackburn (1-0) - Darius Henderson

A direct ball over the top by Henri Lansbury, played into an area which can cause confusion for the defence - which it did as the Blackburn goalkeeper came shambling out, clattering into Jamie Mackie. Quick thinking from Mackie to set up Henderson, who still had a bit to do in firing into the almost empty net from outside the area. A gift in reality.

Goal: Henderson. Assist: Mackie. Key Contributions: Lansbury.

3. Bolton (1-0) - Jamie Mackie

Again Forest exploit an error in their opponent's defence, but this one so much more subtle. Majewski collects a loose ball, and almost instantly plays a through-ball in-between Bolton's right back and centre-back. He has quickly noticed that Zat Knight has strayed out of position, and plays a perfect pass for Mackie to run onto and score (see left. All diagrams on Forest Boffin are enlargeable when clicked). There are not many players at this level with the ability to pick out this pass, since the window of opportunity was so small. Mackie does well, but this one's all about the vision and execution of the little Polish wizard.

Goal: Mackie. Assist: Majewski.

4. Bolton (2-0) - Andy Reid

Majewski is again involved, making a run past the strikers and behind the opposition full-back. Once in this space he has plenty of time to settle himself, look up, and threads a very accurate low cross through the Reid, who improvises well to knock it in on the half-volley. The Bolton defence is highly culpable, and if this were Forest I would be fuming; I don't mind if a player gets beaten for skill, but there is no excuse for not trying, and here the Bolton players made no attempt to firstly track Majewski, or stop the cross coming in (or even make him hurry up), and secondly their defensive midfielder Jay Spearing completely switched off and didn't track the run by Reid. It's not as if Reid was in an inconspicuous position - he was stood right in the middle of the Bolton penalty area in a bright red shirt, yet no defender was near him. Woeful.

From a Forest POV, Raddy made a great run into space, and found himself up against Medo, who was filling in at centre-back (or would have if Medo had made the effort, instead he seems happy to allow the cross and is just concentrating on keeping his hands out of the way). Majewski is good at finding these pockets of space off to either side of the goal, and his cross was good. Reid's finish was expert, his run was pretty standard but still wasn't picked up.

The striker (Mackie) is also doing a job for forest here. I expect to mention how Billy uses the 'strikers' to occupy the defenders a lot, rather than as a direct threat themselves. One of the main dangers with Forest of late is the second wave of attack, rather than the frontmen.

Goal: Reid. Assist: Majewski. Key contribution: Halford. Minor contribution: Mackie (movement).

5. Bolton (3-0) Henri Lansbury

Again Bolton switch off in several areas. Forest have them defending deep, and Guedioura plays a good ball out to our right wing. Greg Halford had drifted out into space (able to do so because he was being marked by Medo...) and controlled the ball, then driving in another low cross, which found Lansbury unmarked at the back post. The impressive thing about this goal is Halford's technique in controlling and fizzing in the cross. He does it quickly and stylishly, not looking like a defender at all. The cross is perfect.

Goal: Lansbury. Assist: Halford. Key Contribution: Guedioura

6. Watford (1-0) Andy Reid

The catalyst for this goal was Forest's defensive ethos mentioned in my last article. Billy has worked hard with the players, particularly in midfield, in improving their defending. The result is a harder working, combative, energetic group of players working and defending as a unit. In practice this has resulted in more tackling - especially from players who didn't do this traditionally like Andy Reid ad Raddy Majewski - and a lot of pressure on the ball when Forest don't have it. A side-effect to this, which I'm sure Billy will be secretly pleased with, is that Forest have been the dirtiest side in the league since Billy has returned. The goal at Watford is a direct result of this new hard-working defensive ethos.

Forest harry Watford back into their own half, and keep nibbling at whoever has the ball until a Watford defender (Cassetti) is half-forced to play a poor ball across his own half. Reid picks it up and immediately the two strikers Halford and Mackie have pulled off to the sides of Watford's defence, both finding space and stretching Watford out. You may expect a traditional striker to make a run through on goal, to  occupy a dangerous area, but as mentioned above, Forest's front men don't do this, they occupy the defenders and make space for the second wave of attack.

Reid & Mackie juggle the ball between themselves as Forest get closer to goal, finally the move finishes when Mackie lays it off to Reid who smashes it past the superb Almunia in Watford's goal. Forest's success here came from firstly their willingness to defend with purpose, and then their awkward movement, as rather than make runs directly at goal, the strikers peel off to either side, giving the defence decisions to make while all the time Reid is getting close enough. He is the main threat here, and he finishes the move beautifully.

Goal: Reid. Assist: Mackie. Minor contribution: Halford (pressing created an error).

7. Wigan (1-0) - Andy Reid

Forest scored against the run of play with a great free-kick from Andy Reid, won by Raddy Majewski. There's not too much to say about this tactically, it was virtually unstoppable, going in high off the post. Majewski did well to win the free kick, strong enough to win the ball, but weak enough to fall over at an opportune moment.

It's worth noting that Forest have scored first in every league game this season. So often in the past we have given the momentum to our opponents and been left struggling to get back into games, under Billy Forest have been starting brightly.

Goal: Reid. Key contribution: Majewski.


Thanks for reading. This is a work in progress hopefully over time we'll be able to spot trends and patterns in how we're scoring (and conceding - coming soon), how I record, choose between and display this information will no doubt change as I feel my way into it. Any suggestions would be welcome, please point out any errors too. COYR!

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