If we have any intentions for success next season, Fawaz must hang onto him at all costs!
It was a tale of two players against Blackburn; Antonio for the reds and Rudy Gestede for Rovers. Forest made plenty of changes for the trip to Ewood Park and it was a surprise to see a return for Modou Barrow, who in all honesty has not settled well at the club.
A measly 13,000 were in attendance in Lancashire, for a club that have lifted the Premier League trophy, Blackburn’s crowds are somewhat disappointing compared to Forest’s. The sprinkle of local die hards were indeed rewarded after just three minutes when Rudy Gestede capitalised on a moment of hesitancy by Karl Darlow, to head home with ease. Back came Forest with a bang, Barrow produced a great run and cross for Antonio to power home with his head, just five minutes later.
The game ebbed and flowed and to be honest, the miniscule crowd were in for a goal fest. It was no surprise then that the teams went in 2-2 at half time, Gestede scored his second header but it was once again cancelled out by Forest within ten minutes. Antonio turned provider this time, powering past his marker to set up Lansbury for our second equaliser.
The second half was a slow starter, given the mayhem of the first period. There were chances for both sides again and in keeping with the script, Rovers went ahead for a third time. The scorer? “You Gest it”....Sorry, couldn’t resist it. Rudy Gestede completed a fine, headed hat-trick after meeting Conway’s cross at the back post. With eight minutes left you feared the worst but cometh the hour, cometh the man. That man, like so many times this season was Michail Antonio. He seized a mistake by the Blackburn defence and lashed home from twenty five yards, giving Forest a well earned draw.
In a week that once again provided speculation about Lansbury going to Burnley, our attentions must be firmly fixed on Michail Antonio. The fourteen goal winger has been the shining light in this rollercoaster of a season. Despite the fact that there have been no solid bids for him just yet, it is inevitable that a host of top flight clubs will indeed come knocking on our chairman’s door very soon.
Again, we must thank Stuart Pearce for bringing this guy to the club along with Assombalonga. It’s a breath of fresh air to see a winger that looks to beat his marker at every given opportunity. In an era of safety net football, where Managers send their sides out to cancel out their opponents and avoid defeat rather actually win; Michail is an exception to the rule. He makes the entrance fee worth paying and how many players can you say that about these days?
I will always revert back to my criticism of Antonio,on the opening day of the season, with a wry smile. Although listening to Robin Chipperfield on the radio last Saturday, it seems he was of a similar mindset. Collectively; any given Forest fan will tell you that Antonio has been the star performer this season and we should do whatever it takes to hold onto him!