OPINION: '˜Nottingham Forest's win at Sunderland no classic, but Daryl Murphy's finish was'
It was January 2015 and the famous Ben Osborn derby-day the last time that I had embarked on a journey to watch Nottingham Forest away from the City Ground - and quite simply I had been getting twitchy feet to get back on the away bandwagon recently.
In all fairness, I probably could have picked a more straightforward trip logistically than a trip to Sunderland in midweek to get me back on the bike but nonetheless it felt great to be back!
A mate of mine, Simon, the designated driver for the evening, suggested on the return leg back from the north east that I should perhaps write an article based on our successful trip north and it seemed like a nice idea.
Forest needed a reaction following back-to-back defeats and on a somewhat frustrating night it looked as though I would be welcomed back to watching the Reds away with a bore draw – until Daryl Murphy intervened that is.
I said when we parted with £2 million for the Republic of Ireland international that he could well be the sort of striker that pops up with a winner on a cold Tuesday night after a scrappy performance. And people say I know nothing about football!
This wasn’t a classic Forest performance in the slightest. Indeed, at times it was disjointed and sloppy, whilst it occasionally turned nothing shy of awful.
One thing I must give credit to the Reds for, however, is their ability to stick together at the Stadium of Light. After two defeats in succession prior to the long trip north it would have been easy to lick their wounds and feel a little bit sorry for themselves yet that never happened.
Matt Mills was restored to the side and handed the captain’s armband after failing to make the starting line-up at Sheffield Wednesday and giving credit where it is due the former Leicester City man was largely excellent up against a pair of lively strikers in James Vaughan and Lewis Grabban.
During the second half Ben Osborn was dispossessed in a dangerous area of the pitch and he was given a clear rollicking from the Forest skipper and it was nice to see that level of passion and determination from the Reds’ defender.
Whilst boss Mark Warburton clearly doesn’t yet know what his best side is you have to say that winning four out of the first seven league matches is actually quite good considering what sort of teams we have faced so far.
A quick glance towards social media following the disappointing 3-1 reversal on Saturday and you would have thought that we were bottom of the league awaiting our first win of the campaign.
Whichever way some fans look at it this Nottingham Forest side are unlikely to compete with outfits such as Wednesday and Leeds United, who have been building quality squads over the past two or three years.
What supporters must do is continue to buy into the way in which Warburton wants to play and accept that the team may experience frustrations over the course of the current campaign.
I can’t finish this piece without touching upon the form of last night’s matchwinner Daryl Murphy, who can’t seem to catch a break with some of the Forest contingent despite four goals in seven appearances.
The 34-year-old is by no means Britt Assombalonga and fans need to realise that sooner rather than later.
The Forest target man’s 85th minute winner against the Black Cats showed exactly what he does offer that shows similarity with the former Reds striker and that is the ability to be deadly inside the penalty area.
One fan, whose name I won’t mention, said that Murphy ‘offered nothing and touched the ball about five times’. Just read that quote back to yourself and let it sink in just how moronic it sounds that the bloke who scored the winning goal ‘offered nothing’.
Lots of Newcastle fans said when we signed the veteran talisman that he would pop up with some mightily important goals and his strike on Tuesday evening was certainly an important one for Forest.