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Highs and Lows

This week was a mixed sort of week with highs and lows. To start off I didn’t train on Monday morning because I had to attend a funeral.

My step dad’s dad unfortunately died over a week ago after fighting cancer for many months. The funeral was held just up the road from my house so my brothers and I drove up to join my step dad’s family for the ceremony. After that we went back to Tollerton, Nottingham for the wake where I spent a while talking to other family members I hadn’t seen for a while. Death is never nice, but it does make you think about life and put things in to perspective.

After that I rang my coach to see what I was doing in the afternoon and he asked if I could get down to training at 1.30. I got back and didn’t really have any food, just nibbles from the morning, so in training that afternoon I had little energy and made stupid mistakes. Towards the end of the session with our technical coach we played the games and I got a little better, but I had to play in my trainers because I only took my studs with me and we were inside the dome so I can blame those for my poor touches!

I got back home after a long day and spent some time with the family just talking and got myself to bed early because I had been told that afternoon that I’d be on the bench against Walsall the next day for the reserves.

Match: Walsall Reserves v Nottingham Forest Reserves

On Tuesday we had education for an hour at 9 o’clock and then got ourselves some toast and food up at the breakfast room as a pre-match meal. Walsall wasn’t too far away on the coach because they were playing at Tamworth’s ground so it only took around an hour to get there. We had a look at the pitch and it was rock hard, there was also a massive slope going from one end to the other so immediately you could tell it was going to be a scrappy match.

For the warm up our coach gave us the balls for five minutes just to get used to the ball bobbling up on the pitch and believe me it bounced up very high, it wasn’t just my touch! It was a scrappy game and from the bench we looked the better team but we were guilty of not taking our chances in the first half.

It was 0 – 0 at half time and in the second half it was pretty much the same as before, we were on top but not taking our chances. With around twenty minutes to go we got a breakthrough when defender turned midfielder Hamza Bencherif followed up a shot and put it in the net. With five minutes to go I got the nod to go on up front, within a few minutes I created a couple of chances for myself but one went high and wide and one got blocked by a defender and trickled to the keeper.

I was happy though to have got on and impacted the game for the time I was on. We won the game 1 – 0 in the end and like the coach said at the end, it was a scrappy game but good to get the three points considering the conditions.

On Wednesday we attended the LFE careers event ‘Progression 09’. It was at the Sheffield Arena and was designed to give young apprentices like myself and other young athletes the opportunity to see what other career paths there are in life, if you don’t get the cahnce to make a career out of your favoured sport.

It was good to get an insight of what you can do other than football and it was encouraging to see that there are still a lot of other careers available to us, including pursuing other sports. On the whole it was an interesting afternoon and very re-assuring to me and others about what’s available for us if we don’t get that contract we all desperately want in football.

Thursday and Friday were preparation days like usual for Saturday’s game, both days were half sessions and on Friday I was named in the starting line up so I made sure that I got home and rested up that afternoon.

Match: Nottingham Forest v West Bromwich Albion

On Saturday we had West Brom at home, we beat them 4 – 2 last year away from home so we felt quite confident going in to the game but we knew that they would be good because from what I remember they always try and play football. It was a red hot day and the pitch was fairly hard compared to usual, apart from in the middle where the sprinklers had been on.

We attacked them from the start and had a few attacks down our right side, creating a couple half chances. I was guilty of missing a clear cut chance after a couple of minutes, I got played through and rounded the keeper to his left but I rushed my shot on the angle and fired over the bar! I wish I could say it bobbled but I don’t think it did! That goal would have put us in a good position, but we then got punished for not closing down the opposition quick enough outside our box and we conceded after about half an hour.

We changed formation after that and I found myself out wide on the right and I found it hard to get involved with play but I managed to get forward a few times. West Brom put us under quite a lot of pressure and kept the ball well towards the end of the first half and we went in at the break still 1 – 0 down.

At half time our coach Chris got the tactics board to show us the formation we would be playing and I was moved to central striker which is my preferred position. We got a bit of a rollicking at half time which we deserved because we didn’t play as well as we knew we could in that first half.

At the start of the second half we took the game to them and piled the pressure on in the early stages. Tom who came on at half time managed to rob a defender and slot it under the keeper to put us level which was a good start.

About five minutes later we had another attack and their defence failed to clear the ball away and it fell to me on the edge of the box. I took it past one player and hit it in to the bottom left hand corner from just inside the box. At 2 – 1 up it was a good reaction to going one nil down and it put us in a great position to go on and win the game.

However, that wasn’t the case…. we carried on creating a few half chances but in the last twenty minutes they turned their possession in to final product. They equalised with a shot from distance and after that they managed to get not just one, but they scored from a penalty too, and this was all in the space of about ten minutes.

It was frustrating stuff because we were in a position where we could of won the game, but we didn’t take all our chances, didn’t defend as well as we can and we lacked maturity to see the game out so it was a frustrating afternoon.

Credit to West Brom though, they had a really young team out and played well, we threw the game away a bit like we did at the start of the season against Norwich which isn’t a great sign. With that being two defeats in a row we have the chance to put things right against Sheffield United next week, where I hope I can play a part in getting a result.

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