It is often said that form is temporary yet class is permanent. For Lee Tomlin, he has always had inordinate ability, yet has often appeared to be lacking a little in the fitness stakes, which has arguably held him back from perhaps achieving his full potential. He is now 29 and onto his 7th English league club, his current employment at Nottingham Forest being on loan from Cardiff City.
Yet yesterday at Loftus Road, he had one of those matches that makes everyone stand up and wonder why he is not showcasing his skills more regularly and arguably on a higher stage. His touch was as good as ever, his ball control and appreciation of space there for all to see and he capped it all off with two wonderfully taken goals, the first a first time left footed strike from a rapid breakaway, the second a right footed strike from outside the area into the top corner.
He even had a hand in Forest’s third, providing an assist for an adroit left footed finish from Joe Lolley after 51 minutes. 0-3 and game over. After 69 minutes, his job was done and he left the arena, the Forest fans jubilant and showing their appreciation in loud voice.
Rangers rallied with a toe poked finish from Massimo Luongo and a towering header by Matt Smith, both goals set up by Rangers’ most creative attacking force, Luke Freeman but in truth it was all a little too late. By then Matty Cash had added a fourth for Forest, following up a shot that Alex Smithies could only parry into his path.
Finally, in injury time, the Forest number 9, but wearing 17 on his back, Ben Brereton scored the goal that his all round performance deserved with a quite exquisite curling left footed shot into the far corner, holding off Rangers skipper Nedum Onuoha in the process.
All in all, something of an embarrassment for Rangers and their somewhat Jekyll and Hide season continues. In recent weeks they have seen off some of their fellow lower table sides, such as Bolton, Barnsley and Birmingham and they would have come into this match with high expectation of pulling off another scalp, but they were never really at the races from the off.
They can point to a Matt Smith header that crashed down off the bar in the first half that did not quite make it over the line and a few decent saves by Forest’s ex-Manchester City reserve stopper, Costel Pantilimon but Forest were far more efficient and purposeful on the ball, as well as being ruthless and clinical in attack. With the likes of Jack Colback and Ben Watson in their side, as well as Tomlin, pulling the strings, it is a wonder that they are where they are.
Maybe new boss Aitor Karanka’s methods are now beginning to have an affect, or it just that they like playing QPR, having previously demolished them 4-0 at the City Ground earlier in the season. After all, they had only scored in three of their past eleven Championship games so this was some feat.
Forest fabulous, Rangers rubbish, but it might all be different next week, such is the unpredictable nature of this league. That said, next Saturday Rangers travel to Villa Park. More carnage may await on this evidence. Holloway has his work cut out.