In front of Forest’s biggest crowd in a decade, a 12th minute debut goal from Abdoulai Njai was enough to beat Clapton and start the year on a high.
We then travelled to Cheshunt to take on FC Romania for the fourth and fifth times this season. A midweek defeat in the Essex Senior League Cup was first – Vicente Belho levelled for a weakened Forest side in the 79th minute, and it looked like the game would go to penalties when Nikko Stokes was presented with an open goal just a yard out. But it wasn’t to be as the ball took an awkward bobble and Stokes ballooned the ball over.
Unable to build on a positive second half performance in the week, two goals before half time kept Forest at bay, though a goal from Abiola Tanimowo did make it a nervy last half hour for Romania.
A 4-1 victory for Redbridge looked like a routine victory for the league leaders, but it was far from it. Abdoulai Njai levelled for Forest a minute after Brian Moses put Redbridge ahead through the first of three blatantly offside goals.
It looked like Forest bounced back in midweek, coming from behind twice to lead Sawbridgeworth 3-2. But when Chid Onokwai was sent off for dissent, Forest lost their heads and conceded a 89th minute equaliser.
Forest also lost their captain Mo Sagaf who had been training with Ipswich Town for a period of time, eventually signing to join their under 23s.
The longest trip to the season resulted in a 1-0 win for Forest against Burnham Ramblers, but in truth, Forest should have won by a cricket score. This proved to be Qayum Shakoor’s final game in charge, as he was relieved of his duties in midweek.
Ryan Maxwell returned to the club after a spell at the start of last season, and it looked like he’d get off to the perfect start after Christian Owusu gave Forest a 1-0 lead against Sporting Bengal inside a minute. But following a mass exodus of Shakoor’s players, Maxwell’s scratch side could not hold it together, eventually going down 4-1.
There was a positive result against FC Romania, Elias Siligato scoring to secure a point, but this was followed by a heavy defeat to Wadham Lodge, where individual mistakes from one or two players cost Forest heavily.
Barkingside visited Wadham Lodge in the middle of the month, and goals from Paul Scott and Christian Owusu earned a point in a game which really could have gone either way.
The month ended when an in-form Enfield beat Forest 2-1, again making the most of some individual mistakes.
Oddly, for a season when other teams have had so many games to catch up on, Forest only played two scheduled games in March. Champions elect Great Wakering made the most of Forest being reduced to ten men, winning 3-1 in a game which was far closer than the score may suggest.
West Essex made the most of a Forest side still finding their feet with a 2-0 win at Mayesbrook Park.