Normally, I’d run a month by month of the second half of the season, but, as things will soon become apparent, I got slightly carried away.
I came in at game 21. Forest in 18th place, and struggling to find consistency.
At the end of the Transfer Window, we’d jumped to 14th, but, were still finding consistent football hard to come by.
However, as we got further into the season, the points gap between the mid table teams, and the top 6 closed up, and coming into the last 6 weeks, there was an outside chance of reaching the Playoffs.
Alongside this, we’d also embarked on a bit of an FA Cup run, with the aim of using it as a bit of a way to keep spirits up in the side.
This worked, with the best game of the season being the 6th Round (quarter finals) against Liverpool. They put out a full strength side, whilst, my Forest side, in decent form themselves (just 1 defeat in the 17 games prior to this) had to be slightly rotated due to a couple of players having knocks.
I wanted us to put up a good performance, not expecting a victory.
The screenshot shows that Matty Cash got a deserved man of the match, however, Rafael Barbosa ran the game, and deserved the award, providing 4 assists and hitting the bar with a free kick.
I hate to say it. But, this is the moment I realised we may be on to something.
A first trip to Wembley in 28 years beckoned, and over 55000 travelling Forest fans would make their way down the M1 to North London at the beginning of April.
I don’t know whether it was the weight of the occasion, but, we were poor.
At least, until we went a goal down to Andrew Hjulsager.
Ryan Yates, who had been appointed as captain after the transfer window, hit a shot from 30 yards, which took a deflection off Henrik Dalsgaard, and nestled in the top corner.
It was like the Battle of The Alamo for the last 15-20 minutes, until, in the 92nd minute Cody Gapko was found in space in the box.
The young Dutchman, who had been playing well since arriving in January, had picked up a booking, which meant that he would miss the final, were we to get there.
Letting the ball come to him, he hit what can only be described as a rocket of a shot past David Bentley in the Brentford goal.
He took it a step further just before full time, as closing down Dalsgaard, he stole the ball, and hit a chip over the onrushing keeper.
3-1. Game over.
It meant we’d face Manchester City in the final, we’d probably lose, but, it would guarantee European Football.
The last minutes of the Semi Final seemed to awaken something in the side, as, they went from a team that thought that they could get to the playoffs, to one that knew they would.
7 games to go in the season, and just outside the Playoffs. 19 points from the 21 available saw us qualify in 4th place, and set up another Semi Final with Brentford.
The first leg went completely differently to the FA Cup Semi, as we burst into a 5-0 lead within the first 34 minutes of the game.
The score allowed us to ease off slightly, and, this showed, as Stefano Okaka scored a close range effort, before getting sent off for a high tackle on Arvin Appiah.
The second leg was a slightly drab affair, with Lynden Gooch scoring the only goal of the game.
Next up, a matter of days after the 2nd leg, was a match against a full strength Man City side, who had seen Pep Guardiola sacked in March, and since then, had U23 manager, Paul Harsley managing them.
The 2nd trip to Wembley of the season, and, we weren’t going to win, but, the experience would help for the big match the following Sunday.
45000 Forest fans were present to see us in our first FA Cup Final in 29 years, and, were disappointed, to see us lose 3-0. Milinkovic-Savic scoring a first half double, before Gabriel Jesus scored the 3rd as we tried to push to get back in the game.
A bonus, however, was the announcement we’d qualified for the Europa League on the back of this. Even if we didn’t get through the group stages, there was money to be made here.
Sunday 24th May 2020. Wembley. A fixture I didn’t expect to be playing when I joined the club.
Middlesbrough had made their way south, 35000 fans backing them. They were missing former Forest striker, Britt Assombalonga, who had ruptured cruciate ligaments in the back end of the season. We were nearly full strength, missing Mason Greenwood, who had gone with the England U21s to Toulon.
9 minutes in, a throw in falls to Lewis Grabban, who drills a dipping shot from the edge of the box past Sol Brynn in the Boro goal.
An end to end match is finally put beyond the reach of Middlesbrough, as Ryan Yates hit his 19th goal of the season from 12 yards out, and allowed his teammates to relax slightly, and the 50000+ Forest fans to begin to celebrate.
As things go, Promotion was unexpected, but, I’ll take it, and get the shopping list out.
We’ve got a lot of players to buy.