Kris Commons, the Nottingham Forest midfielder, said recently that his side's success owed much to their team spirit. "We go on nights out, golfing and go-karting. If you get past the stage when you're just team-mates, it brings out the positive," Commons said.
Last week several players brought out the negative on a night of team-bonding, preferring the "19th hole" to the previous 18 and becoming the subject of a police investigation. That it occurred after a 5-0 defeat at the League One promotion rivals Oldham Athletic accentuated the ire of Forest fans.
On Saturday the party animals and the early-to-beds combined to deliver the perfect cleanser. Charlton Athletic, drifting in the Premiership's relegation zone, were ripe for the giant-killing but the stylish way they were dispatched belied Forest's own problems. With pace and width the home side eviscerated Charlton so easily that it will be a major surprise if this is not a Championship fixture next season.
The Charlton manager, Alan Pardew, pointed to the injuries and ineligibility which robbed his team of Darren Bent, Hermann Hreidarsson, Luke Young and Scott Carson but, more significantly, the side were also lacking passion and competence.
Pardew noted they lost the first eight aerial challenges and their tactical play was no better. After 27 minutes Pardew hauled off Amady Faye and moved Talal El Karkouri to right-back, all to protect a flank from which Nathan Tyson was tormenting his defence. A minute later Djimi Traoré gifted possession to James Perch who flew down the other wing and crossed for Junior Agogo to score.
Three minutes after that, and with Jonathan Fortune lucky not to have been adjudged by the referee to have deflected a Tyson cross over the line via the bar, Forest made it two, Grant Holt, unmarked, rising to glance in Nicky Southall's free-kick.
"I learned a lot about my team," said Pardew. "One or two did not perform well enough. They either respond or they find themselves a long way from the first team."
Goals: Agogo (28) 1-0; Grant Holt (31) 2-0.
Nottingham Forest (4-4-2): Smith; Curtis, Morgan, Breckin, Bennett; Southall, Perch, Gary Holt, Tyson (McGugan, 80); Grant Holt (Lester, 73), Agogo (Dobie, 67). Substitutes not used: Pedersen (gk), Hughes.
Charlton Athletic (4-4-2): Myhre; Kishishev (Sam, 83), El Karkouri, Fortune, Traoré; Rommedahl (Thomas, 67), Holland, Faye (Diawara, 27), Ambrose; M Bent, Hasselbaink. Substitutes not used: Randolph (gk), Hughes.
Referee: C Foy (Merseyside).
Booked: Nottingham Forest Gary Holt, Lester; Charlton: Diawara.
Man of the match: Tyson.
Attendance: 19,017.Reuse content