25 min A nice first-time cross from Cresswell is headed straight at Henderson by Soucek. It was a decent effort – he had to generate all the power himself – but too close to the keeper.
24 min “Not sure I’d be wearing black on a day like this…” says Ian Sargeant. “That Metgod goal cost us the title that season. I was listening to commentary on the radio. Either Peter Jones or Bryon Butler said it was the hardest they’d seen a ball being struck.”
‘Peter Jones and Bryon Butler.’ Just give me a moment please.
22 min Mangala threads an excellent ball down the left to find Johnson. He runs at Zouma, dragging his foot over the ball, but then stabs a cross too close to Fabianski. There’s a lovely confidence and purpose about Forest’s play.
20 min At the other end, an even more dangerous cross from Lingard just evades the stretching Awoniyi at the far post. Lingard looks sharp, Awoniyi too.
19 min West Ham are starting to come into the game, and Cresswell’s dangerous cross just evades the stretching Antonio.
18 min “All sports are corporate, most sports care more about the bottom line than anything else,” says Mary Waltz. “But hearing the history of Forest, seeing how important their club is to the heart of these cities, separates the PL from other leagues. Not the owners, the fans. I grew up with the NFL and it is incredibly successful, profitable, and utterly soulless. A plea from America to the people of the UK. Don’t let American corporate greed take over your game. They tried with the Super League but don’t let them.”
I fear that ship has sailed, whether it arrives displaying a Super League flag or not. But I know what you mean – days like today are a reminder why we fell in love with football.
16 min: Off the line by Toffolo! Benrahama cuts inside from the left and whips a typical curling shot towards the far post. Henderson dives to his left to save but pushes it against Soucek, with the ball rebounding slowly towards goal. Toffolo does very well to hook it to safety.
14 min A gloriously imaginative through pass from Williams, near the halfway line, just evades Awoniyi in the area. It’s all Forest at the moment.
13 min: Chance for Awoniyi! Neco Williams moves down the right and whips a lovely cross towards the penalty spot, where Awoniyi pulls away from Zouma and powers a header just wide of the far post. He looks a handful for defenders.
12 min Niakhate puts hands on Antonio in the area, a risky challenge, though there was no appeal from Antonio as he hit the deck.
11 min Forest look really sharp. O’Brien’s cross from the right is headed up in the air and nodded towards goal by Niakhate. There’s no pace on the ball and Fabianski saves comfortably.
10 min The free-kick is half cleared and dumped back towards the far post. Bowen fights with Awoniyi for the header and ends up nodding it towards his own goal. Fabianski moves smartly across his line to push it over.
9 min Rice is booked for a foul on Lingard 30 yards from goal.
8 min He doesn’t score – but it was a good effort, whipped across goal and just over the bar. I think Henderson had it covered, though I wouldn’t swear to it under oath.
8 min Antonio is fouled just outside the area, in a good position for the left-footed Cresswell. It looked a softish decision, about which we’ll heare more if Cresswell scores…
6 min Williams honks it into orbit. An ill-conceived effort, poorly executed.
5 min Forest have started well, and at a very high tempo. The lively Awoniyi is fouled 25 yards from goal by Rice, though the free-kick is a fair way to the left of centre. Neco Williams is over it…
4 min “Totally unrelated to the Forest game but must share with you a crazily coincidental thing,” writes Des. “I was walking down the streets of north west London on the way to a pub when I passed two old guys who were reminiscing about the great Jimmy Johnstone. It was lovely to see these two guys who must have been in their 80s talk about him and in particular an overhead kick he did. I get to the pub to see the Forest game and they have on Celtic v Kilmarnock game, and within a minute a wonderful overhead kick is scored by Giakoumakis.”
3 min Awoniyi wins an early corner for Forest on the left. It’s headed clear to the edge of the area, where Mangala has a shot that is blocked. This place is going to blow if Forest score.
2 min “The football supporter’s dilemma,” says Richard Hirst. “Do I want a draw so both teams stay below Fulham, or do I want West Ham to win because Forest are the team more likely to be competing with us to avoid a relegation place. I think the pragmatist in me has to say the latter.”
Is it not too early for all that? Enjoy the summer months at least. Okay, just enjoy August? The first half of August?
1 min Peep peep! West Ham kick off from right to left. The atmosphere is wonderful.
Here come the players. It’s a gorgeous day in Nottingham, and many of the home supporters are beaming with joy and pride as they greet their team. They’re not just applauding today’s XI; they’re clapping everyone who was involved last season as well.
The Forest captain Joe Worrall is in the tunnel, chatting to one of the mascots. Normally footballers do that to help the mascot relax; I suspect today Worrall is doing it to calm his own nerves.
The atmosphere at the City Ground is spectacular. The former Forest centre-back Michael Dawson is talking on Sky Sports, with a microphone pressed tight to his coupon, and you can barely hear a thing.
“I have bittersweet memories,” begins Daniel Barnett at the City Ground, “of visiting with my dad to see our beloved West Ham get properly tonked by the new European champions in December 1979. As I recall, we got tickets in the posh new main stand, only to discover that the roof wasn’t finished, and we got a proper soaking to rub salt (water?) into the wound. Looking forward to today’s spectacle. What are the odds of a very early Coufal reducer on Lingard? (Kids: Ask your parents what a ‘reducer’ is.)”
“Metgod hit the ball so hard that, for the only recorded time, its physical state went from solid to liquid to gas and then back from gas to liquid to solid, once the ball had passed Phil Parkes, who must’ve thought he was in a David Copperfield spectacular,” says James Debens. “Might as well try to catch the wind, as Donovan sang about Metgod’s goal.”
Previously in this fixture
You know what’s coming, don’t you. Phil Parkes knew too, but he couldn’t do owt about it.
In unrelated news, this is quite something
Two changes for Forest from that defeat at Newcastle. Two of their new signings, Orel Mangala and Taiwo Awoniyi come in for Jack Colback and Sam Surridge. That means there are eight new players in the starting XI, including Jesse Lingard, who turned down West Ham to join Forest.
David Moyes makes one change from the West Ham team that ran into Beast at the London Stadium last weekend – Said Benrahma replaces Manuel Lanzini, which should mean Pablo Fornals moving infield to play as the No10.
Ben Johnson continues as an emergency centre-back, and Moyes has name only eight of the possible nine substitutes.
Nottingham Forest (3-4-2-1) Henderson; Worrall, Niakhate, McKenna; Williams, O’Brien, Mangala, Toffolo; Lingard; Johnson, Awoniyi.
Substitutes: Hennessey, Biancone, Cook, Mbe Soh, Surridge, Mighten, Cafu, L Taylor, Hammond.
West Ham (4-2-3-1) Fabianski; Coufal, Zouma, Johnson, Cresswell; Soucek, Rice; Bowen, Fornals, Benrahma; Antonio.
Substitutes: Areola, Randolph, Ashby, Coventry, Downes, Lanzini, Cornet, Scamaca.
Referee Robert Jones.
Hello and welcome to live coverage of Nottingham Forest v West Ham United at the City Ground. I’m not saying this is the most romantic fixture of the weekend, but it’s in the top one: Forest’s first home game in the Premier League since 16 May 1999, when Chris Bart-Williams scored the only goal in a futile victory over Leicester City and – cliché alert – Brennan Johnson hadn’t even been conceived.
A helluva lot has changed at Forest since 1999. A helluva lot has changed since May, when they beat Huddersfield in the play-off final. Forest have signed 15 (F-I-F-T-E-etc) players this summer, and there are more to come.
Both these teams started the season with 2-0 defeats – Forest at Newcastle, West Ham at home to Beast – so a win wouldn’t go amiss today. But it’s not all about three points. Premier League football is being played at the City Ground again, and the world feels a slightly saner place.
Kick off 2pm