We learnt a few things on Saturday as a very good Nottingham Forest side beat us 3-1 at the Amex.
We learnt, in my view, that we are not going to win the Sky Bet Championship; we learnt that we are not going to gain automatic promotion; and, most sad of all, again in my opinion, we are not going to make the play-offs.
Forest’s win was a reality check. One up at half-time, rather fortunately perhaps, we were outplayed in the second half.
I must say that this was a good game – for Forest fans and neutrals. As a spectacle it was so much better than the dire midweek game against Sheffield Wednesday.
There was a great atmosphere as nearly 28,000, including a good number of noisy fans in red, watched both sides try to play attacking football and produce plenty of attempts on goal.
There was much relief when we scored on 31 minutes. Stephen Ward sent over a deep cross, Ashley Barnes put the ball back into the six-yard box with a miscued volley and Andrew Crofts scored with a diving header.
It was end to end, with Kazenga LuaLua the main Brighton threat. By the end, I think three Forest defenders picked up yellow cards trying to stop him.
Unfortunately either his delivery was poor or support was missing in the centre. In mitigation, it is a fact that Brighton have horrible injury problems. After damaging a foot last week our solitary surviving specialist striker, Leonardo Ulloa, has had a metal screw inserted in his foot. He’s out for a good many weeks.
Meanwhile the lengthy absence of both Craig Mackail-Smith and Will Hoskins continues.
Coach Oscar Garcia is left with hard-working No 9 Barnes but I’m afraid he wasn’t given a look in by the Forest defence.
So we have a problem scoring goals. We do not possess a clinical finisher and are apparently looking for a couple of loan strikers.
Forest’s equaliser came straight after half-time when Henri Lansbury scored with a magnificent header from a Radoslaw Majewski cross.
To be fair we were unlucky not to regain the lead soon after. Forest keeper Karl Darlow managed to deflect a Barnes shot onto a post and away to safety. That was probably as near as we got to another goal.
On the hour Mathew Upson didn’t get enough on a clearance and Darius Henderson hit in a fine first time shot.
Brighton were still recovering from this when captain Gordon Greer misplaced a pass out of his own area and when it came back in he clumsily tripped Simon Cox from behind. Lansbury made no mistake from the spot.
There was time for Nathaniel Chalobah to get himself a second yellow for a push on LuaLua but I’m afraid Brighton didn’t look like scoring against the 10 men. The 3-1 win moved Forest up the table whilet we slipped down to 15th.
I am unusually pessimistic about our status now. The problems aren’t just about strikers. Garcia hasn’t found a cohesive midfield and our defence, which has been a strong point, is now looking cumbersome.
Perhaps the international break will do us good and we’ll be revitalised for the game at Yeovil.
(Picture by Angela Brinkhurst)