Alex McLeish accuses his Nottingham Forest players of being 'a soft touch' following FA Cup loss
NOTTINGHAM Forest will appeal against the sending off of skipper Danny Collins against Oldham – but manager Alex McLeish is refusing to use his red card as an excuse for defeat.
The Scotsman accused his players of being 'a soft touch' as Forest saw Oldham all but secure a place in the fourth round in seven minutes of madness that saw them score three goals and Forest reduced to ten men.
Collins was shown a straight red card for a challenge on Matt Smith, although replays showed it was little more than a tangle of legs – and suggested that the Oldham man was pulling the Forest's defender's shirt first.
"We did have an issue with the sending off, we felt that he was pulling Danny's shirt. I don't know if Danny even touched him. The big fella seemed to collapse like he had deck chair legs," said McLeish, who saw his side beaten 3-2.
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"It looked as if he made the most of it. From what I have seen on the video, Danny did not make any attempt to make contact with him. Maybe when he was dragged down, by his shirt, he did. He might have fallen on him, I don't know.
"But that is the big question. I would like to see it blown up. We will look at it, I would think that it is a decision that is appealable."
McLeish also has a growing injury list with Daniel Ayala ruled out with a hamstring injury before the game and Andy Reid limping off in the first half with a groin problem.
"Daniel injured his hamstring in training on Friday. We had a little crash course in playing three at the back. But the players did understand what we wanted from them and they did handle it well, by and large.
"Andy was feeling his groin a little bit, so we had to take him off and we left Billy Sharp on the bench because he had a slight soft tissue problem. They are two players who are very important to us.
"Daniel has a slight strain and it scuppered our plans slightly, but we felt we had the players to deal with it. But there was a Dr Jeckyl side to us in the second half.
"It was a woeful start to the second half, despite us warning the players at half time and talking about the need for ruthless professionalism.
"But we were a soft touch in the second half. We were soft, we were sloppy, we gave the ball away cheaply, we did not close down quickly enough. We were half hearted closing down and they were able to get crosses into the box.
"Their big centre forward caused mayhem. We did not do as well as we should. Central defenders have to be ugly and rugged. They have to deal with that. He won a lot of balls – more than I would have expected our central defenders to lose.
"They caused us lots of problems in the second half. In the first half, I had been quite pleased with the performance.
"We had chances – we had big Dex going through on goal. That could have sewn it up for us. But, at 1-0, it is never safe. When you sit back and relax, we looked a little bit frightened.
"We sat off them, we allowed them to press us and it was not necessary. Why the players should allow that to happen is a mystery to me.
"Steel was needed. We needed nerves of steel, we needed to be strong. When you close players down, I want to see players do that with a toughness."