10/09/2011: Saints 3-2 Nottingham Forest

Saints maintained their 100% home record today in a hard fought victory over Nottingham Forest. Forest took a surprise lead after just six minutes when Ishmael Miller's cross was met by Matt Derbyshire, who had a simple tap in. It was a very soft goal, with Miller given far too much space to run in from the left hand side. Saints hit back immediately through Rickie Lambert, after Guly brilliantly created an opportunity for David Connolly, who's shot rebounded to Lambert just a few yards out. After the goal Saints grew in confidence and put in a terrific 20 minute display of quick one touch football. Rickie Lambert headed in to make it 2-1 on 24 minutes from a Connolly cross, which was flicked on by Lallana. The hosts surprisingly dropped off after that and played with less intensity in the final 15 minutes of the first half. Forest equalised on 42 when Miller's superb pass found Derbyshire who was in a great position to shoot himself, but instead squared the ball to Radoslaw Majewski for another easy finish. Just before the break Connolly had a clear run at goal, but saw his shot well saved by Lee Camp.

The second half began as the first had ended with Forest on top. They were a threat on the counter attack all game, with Miller in particular causing the Saints back line all sorts of problems. It was more than a relief when he was forced off injured on 64 minutes. The visitors had a couple of efforts cleared off the line, while Nigel Adkins's men also threatened on occasions. Forest had what they thought was a strong shout for a penalty when Matt Derbyshire was brought down by Kelvin Davis after winning a loose ball, but replays clearly showed the referee made the right call. Saints switched to a 4-3-3 on 68 minutes when Richard Chaplow was brought on to replace Guly, giving us a much needed extra body in the middle of the park. The game was finely balanced and could have gone either way until Lambert headed in for his hatrick with 8 minutes to go. Saints looked comfortable after that and controlled possession until the final whistle.

A mixed bag from Saints today. We played some absolutely magnificent football in periods, but also looked extremely shaky at times. Forest were allowed far too much space in the build up to their goals, which is something that obviously needs improving. With a new look defence on show today though, that was to be expected. Jos Hooiveld said on Twitter this evening that his legs felt tired in the second half, and that definitely showed. The Dutchman showed enough promise to suggest he can be an important part of the team once he improves his match fitness though. Jack Cork put in a superb showing at right back against Leicester two weeks ago, but he was wasted there today and struggled defensively. The likes of Dean Hammond and Rickie Lambert continue to prove they are more than capable of cutting the mustard at this level. Guly still has his critics amongst the fans, which I believe is massively unfair. The Brazilian attacker is a bag of tricks and works a lot harder than many give him credit for. We rode our luck at times today, but given how unfortunate we were at Leicester we probably just about deserved it.

Attendance: 24,784 (1,777 Forest fans)

Match ratings:

Davis: 6. Not at the level of previous weeks, and nearly gifted Forest a third goal when he dwelled on the ball too long.

Cork: 5. Surprisingly the weak link today. Both Forest goals came from his side of the pitch, and he didn't see anywhere near as much of the ball as usual.

Hooiveld: 6. A few minor errors, but overall a steady debut. Some good long passes.

Fonte: 7. A strong display bar one sliced clearance.

Fox: 7. Put in the free kick for Lambert's winner. Looked very comfortable on the ball, but was caught out defensively a few times.

Guly: 8. Most creative player in the first half. Did brilliantly to create the first goal.

Hammond: 8. Some excellent work just in front of the back four today. Started off a number of good attacking moves.

Schneiderlin: 7. Got forward a lot more than usual, and had a few decent efforts on goal.

Lallana: 8. At the heart of most good offensive play. Ran his socks off.

Lambert: 9. A hatrick and some great hold up play.

Connolly: 7. Worked hard, and was involved in the two opening goals.

Substitutes:

Chaplow: 7. Improved things for Saints after coming on.

De Ridder: Some good forward runs, but not enough time to make any real impact on the game.