Welcome back Warno-brothers! Reminder, we are top of Division 2 after 24 games with Nottingham Forest battling for promotion. The aim is to emulate Neil Warnock’s success at Huddersfield in 1995. Let’s go!
“When you’re my age, you do get labelled … you’re ‘dinosaurs’ and all that, ‘long-ball merchants’. I look at some of the teams in our league and I’ve never been as long as them in a million years but because they’re young, they don’t get criticised.” Warnock on his favored Champ Man tactics.
It’s boxing day – the lads are nursing hangovers, but fortunately don’t need to travel. We signed David Hopkin at the end of the last episode; Hopkin wastes no time embedding himself into the AMC role, and combines with George Ndah for a goal and assist apiece. The 3-1 win over fellow promotion hopefuls Preston is a perfect Christmas present.
Ndah enters the Forest record books -and it’s still December!
Four days later and we travel to Mansfield. We fall two goals behind and then suffer further as our young Columbian center back, Edson, is red carded on 43 minutes. The second half is an uphill (up Field Mill) struggle and we lose 3-1.
We’re in January and the FA Cup third round calls… We host Brentford, and go in front early courtesy of our attacking meistro George Ndah. It’s a tight affair – the game swinging from box-to-box quicker than Hopkin can run. Our substitute, and young midfielder Robert Seagreaves scores twice to ease the tension in the City Ground.
From FA Cup to Windscreen Shield. It’s the area Quarter Finals, and we are given a gift in the first minute with a red card to a regen full back. Hopkin starts the party on 6 minutes and we coast to a 3-0 lead within half an hour. I experiment by going keeperless for the second half – it neither helps or hinders. 3-0!
We are back in league action three days later and a train to London from Plymouth proves too much for the lads. A craven performance at the Cottage – though a third clean sheet in a row.
Its first against second [we’re second] and an opportunity to reclaim top spot. The fans are Stoked by George Ndah scoring in the 4th minute to get The City Ground rocking. Hopkin scores his fourth in six games after 23 minutes and we are flying! Stoke claw one back on the stroke of halftime, to make the second half uncomfortable. We see out the game!
Back to the top!
It’s another three-day break, though no travel needed. George Ndah scores two more against another promotion hopeful, Bury. I’m really liking the Ndah-Hopkin connection developing!
We’re back in FA Cup action at Edgeley Park and Stockport County. We edge ahead at the start of the first half and Stockport equalize. Regen Nigel Clough Haworth turns hero as we head for Round 5.
My trusted League Scout 2 throws a dossier on my desk when I get back to Nottingham. He’s found a gifted central midfielder playing youth football in The Midlands. I don’t look at the report – the name is enough for me – I get our secretary to draft some paperwork.
The Windscreen Shield calendar seems to follow the FA Cup.. We board the Orient express once again and secure a 2-0 win and place in the area final! [Remember the area finalists play each other for glory at Wembley – so another game to go before a potential final].
We are crewed and ready for Alexandria.. It’s 2 weeks since we played a league game, but that doesn’t prevent the lads winning 2-1. The win means we maintain a slim 1 point advantage over Stoke.
A short trip across country to Chester gives an entertaining seven-goal thriller. Chester go 1-0 down thanks to an early Ndah goal, before hitting back twice to lead 2-1 at half time. Van Hooijdonk – missing so far this episiode – brings us level before Stoichvok junior scores his first Forest goal. Hopkin makes it 4-2 before a late goal brings some tension. We see it out.
Ndah breaks another record in the process.
It’s a Brian Clough derby in the FA Cup 5th Round, as we we travel to Pride Park to face Premier League opposition. Derby sneakily bid for Mabbutt junior in an effort to destabilise the team on the eve of kick off. I bite their hands off for more than £5 million!
We battle to a spirited draw and will bring Derby back to The City Ground.
I rotate the lads at Wrexham, and am not let down by a 0-0 draw.
The rotation meant the lads could focus on the Derby return game at TCG [The City Ground]. An early injury to our Chillean right back Castaneda does not give the best start. The lads then fall to a Baiano goal on the half hour mark. In the second half Clough junior does the damage again to bring us level and into extra time. The rested Van Hooijdonk sends the fans into the stratosphere with an extra time goal and win! Mr. Cup tie himself, does the damage!
More records tumble!
We’re able to carry our cup momentum into our next game at TCG. Dangerous Dave [DD] Hopkin gets up underway early and it’s followed up by Van Hooijdonk and youngster Stewart.
We play our fourth game at TCG in a row, this time the Windscreen Shield Area Final, first leg. George Ndah runs riot in the first twenty minutes. Things go from bad to worse for Barnet on 21 minutes – 2-0 down and now down to ten. We are able to comfortably see the game out 4-0, and give a good chance of a Wembley date.
Our FA Cup run is brought to a crazy finale by Wimbledon at Selhurst Park. I think it’s curtains after only 11 minutes – but after switching up to an attacking formation Ndah helps claw ourselves back. A final keeperless 10 minutes is frantic at both ends but the game ends 2-1.
We’re back in Windscreen Shield action at Barnet. I rotate the lads for the return leg and it is a grind. We keep the shoreline a respectable 2-1 and… WE’RE ON OUR WAY TO WEMBLEY!
I get a message to say that deadline day is approaching. 2 weeks – let’s do some business!
Back at TCG and a rare start for Stoichkov junior is rewarded with a goal. The second half comes to life, and it’s comfortable. Gareth Pallister get’s his Forest account open in the final minute.
Final league match of this episode see’s another four goals go in. DD scores direct from a freekick after Bullock sees red. Ndah scores two more before the Junior Pistolero finishes off the game.
After the game the crowds gather as our latest signing is paraded in front of the fans. My King of Leon is back – and a £5 million steal! Unhappy at Kidderminster, and on the transfer list [looking for a bigger club] it’s an easy deal to get over the line. Kiddy make a £1.5M profit and we get a goal scoring machine! [And.. he was cheaper than the fee Derby paid for our Gary Mabbutt regen]…
The win at Swindon brings up our 36th match, and sees us rise to the summit again. We’ve a game in hand on Stoke after our cup exploits. It looks like promotion will be a fore-gone conclusion and will be a race for the top between us and Stoke…
Can King Fred fire us to the Division 2 title, and a first visit to Wembley? Join us next week. Until next time.