Chelsea beat Nottingham Forest 3-2 to delay survival celebrations

Official Premier League survival parties will be put on hold following Nottingham Forest’s 3-2 defeat to Chelsea, a match where Forest fans were as good as ever and proved exactly why the City Ground is the place to be. George Edwards was at the game

It was just meant to be Nottingham Forest’s day.

For so long, it looked like it would be. Burnley and Luton’s early leads evaporating into defeats. The Reds coming from behind to lead against Chelsea with 10 to play. A City Ground atmosphere back to its bouncing best.

But, of course, Forest don’t always make it easy for themselves.

It could still be seen as survival day. A 12-goal swing and two results must go against Forest next Sunday to relegate them. However, this is exactly what was said when Sabri Lamouchi’s Reds looked set to bring joy amid the despair of Covid-19, so don’t rule it out.

Forest hit the woodwork three times in the second half before Callum Hudson-Odoi clinically found the far corner once again, and Chris Wood somehow missed once again from a matter of yards. Again, it ought to have been their day.

A bouncing party paraded into the City Ground, buoyed by the Burnley and Luton defeats, and it looked like the result wouldn’t matter.

When Chelsea took the lead, it didn’t matter. The cascading noise of the buoyed-up home crowd overpowered the negative emotions. Once the Blues equalised, the spirit and atmosphere remained. But once Nicolas Jackson scored the winner, the stuffing was knocked out of everyone in red and the feeling of safety faded.

Two substitutions were the downfall of Forest. Ryan Yates’ performance showed why he is selected by every manager. The general. No one got past him and Forest had the hunger. That was all lost once he departed; Yates THE man you’d want on the pitch to close out a result that would secure survival.

Harry Toffolo’s introduction spoiled the defensive acumen Forest had for much of the game. At 2-2, a result Forest would have taken, he bombs up the line and leaves a postcode’s worth of space for Chelsea to attack down, something Ola Aina on that side would have known better than to do.

Aina did get turned inside out for Sterling’s equaliser, though, and despite a quality save to keep Chelsea’s lead at one, Matz Sels was nowhere to be seen as Jackson nodded home.

The defeat shows exactly why Forest find themselves where they are. Enough quality to more than match any side in the Premier League but a failure to control a game saw them come up short, once again.

Some things went right. A set-piece goal at last, Willy Boly dominating in the air in both boxes. That was from a free kick, but the Reds shocking delivery from corners saw them unable to threaten from any of five.

The back five looked sturdy, or as sturdy as a Forest defence is likely to look, and the Reds’ ability to adapt formations between games is a huge positive going forward.

Forest fans have themselves to applaud for perhaps the biggest positive. They have made their stance clear: the City Ground or nothing.

“Stand up for the City Ground,” was followed by 27,000 up in their seats, met with applause and recognition by owner Evangelos Marinakis and chairman Tom Cartledge.

The hierarchy are charging fans extortionate amounts yet can’t stump up a fraction of that to ensure the supporters can stay in the place they want to watch their football. Hopefully, the stand taken sends a message to the pair that sticks.

It’s just a shame that all the chanting, bouncing and elation was punctured by two late Chelsea goals. The survival show must go on, and, if anything, Forest will be looking for a point to avoid amassing the lowest ever survival points total in Premier League history, including the four points they’ve seen taken.

That stat shows that even if Forest do stay in the league, there’s a long way to go. They’ve been fortunate that their deduction, woeful defending and shocking ability to take chances came during a season with three below-par sides. Next season, I doubt they’ll be so lucky.

The City Ground hasn’t been quite the fortress we’ve been used to over the past two seasons. The atmosphere hasn’t been the same and a slight upturn in away results has coincided with mediocre form at home.

But it is home. It’s our home. And hopefully, it will be the place we call home for centuries to come.

Until August, City Ground. You’ve been a pleasure.

Read what the papers said about the game here.

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