OPINION: Sláinte! Guinness greets end of Forest goal drought!

Ben Brereton
Ben Brereton

Buskers Bar sits on the bustling streets of Dublin’s famous Temple Bar area and on Saturday afternoon it was my venue of choice to keep updated on events at the world-famous City Ground.

The bar is a real man-cave of a place and I make no exaggeration when I say my wife, who was sat with me, was literally the only woman in the downstairs area of the sports bar which was swashed with big screen TVs, pool tables and, perhaps quite bizarrely, table tennis tables.

As I pitched up to watch Jeff Stelling and the gang dish out the day’s football results my mind cast back to the last day of the 2016/17 campaign when Ipswich Town had casually rolled over, allowing Forest to complete a 3-0 demolition, and maintain their stay in the Championship at the expense of Blackburn Rovers – ironically a Rovers supporter was on the next table in Buskers!

If I am being honest I expected the Tractor Boys to provide a much sterner test than they did back in May 2017, especially considering that they stuck four past Forest in December and taking into consideration that the Reds hadn’t hit the back of the net since early March, a run stretching back six games.

When the Reds went a goal behind in the first half I must confess that I feared the worst.

Without witnessing the game in full flow, I anticipated that Forest might roll over themselves and hand Ipswich a valuable three points in their first game since Mick McCarthy’s departure as boss.

How the rest of the game transpired, however, was pretty much the epitome of being a Nottingham Forest supporter during the last 10 years.

Forest reached the 84th minute without hitting the back of the net to ensure a place in the record books for the class of 2018, as the longest amount of time any Reds side in the existence of the club has gone without hitting the back of the net.

Then they proceeded to net twice in the dying moments to secure three points which have all but guaranteed Championship football for the club next season. Bloody football eh?!

You can imagine the look on the faces of the local Dubliners and gathering stag parties when I let out a huge cry of ‘get in there’ when the words, ‘FOREST 2-1 IPSWICH (Joe Lolley 90+6)’ were flashed up on the bottom of Sky Sports’ videprinter, but in honesty I didn’t care.

The ex-Huddersfield man’s strike was massive and removes a huge weight from the shoulders of Forest.

Lolley looks a really good signing by Aitor Karanka and if his summer recruits are going to boast similar quality to the 25-year-old it really does whet the appetite ahead of next season.

Another man who deserves immense credit for Saturday is youngster Ben Brereton who showed maturity beyond his years in picking up the ball and taking the penalty in the 89th minute to end Forest’s goal drought.

The 18-year-old has come in for a bit of criticism of late and I just find some of it really bizarre considering that he is a man still learning his trade.

Don’t get me wrong, Brereton shouldn’t be first choice next season in my opinion, and signing one or two strikers should be a priority for the club.

But, if nothing else, the academy graduate has shown that he still has a part to play in next season’s squad and the concept of loaning him out seems a comical suggestion given the character displayed by the player, who turns 19 this week.

It is worth noting that Brereton also won the equalising penalty himself and set up Lolley’s late, late winner to spark pandemonium inside the City Ground – and in the bars of Dublin!

With five games left to play Forest are now in a position that is much more tenable than it was prior to Saturday’s game, and it will probably give Karanka the chance to experiment ahead of a very busy summer for the Spanish boss.