Controlled, assured and promising – Forest’s 2-1 victory over Sheffield Wednesday in mid week may not have been the most pretty, but its importance should not be underestimated.
Winless since Reading back in August, the Reds were well overdue three points, especially against a Wednesday side who have been Forest’s bogey team in recent years.
Not quite the electric, free flowing, champagne football many of us come to expect, such is the demand of the modern game, but Karanka’s side always seemed to have a firm grip on the game – selecting their moments of pressure and domination, whilst numbing any threat the visitors half heartedly posed.
As expected, it was a game of patience for Forest, as Wednesday sat deep and refused to let Forest get in behind – clearly wise to the danger and creativity of the attacking trio behind Lewis Grabban; Matty Cash particularly, was heavily bombarded on the right hand side.
Eventually the Owls’ abrasive approach was punished, as a wicked delivery from Ben Osborn’s resulting free kick, was nodded home by Grabban – his first for the club.
This settled Forest further as they ended the first half in control and started the second half in similar fashion.
Carvalho’s excellent curved finish, after a wonderful build up with Ben Osborn doubled their lead, becoming the second player to get off the mark in a Forest shirt.
This was during one of Forest’s spells of sheer, attacking dominance, where they looked to be shifting towards top gear.
When faced with a less resolute outfit, dare I say our opponents this weekend, we will be able to see a more consistently daring display who are there for the taking.
It is a quick return to the City Ground this week, as Forest take on another South Yorkshire side, in the face of Rotherham United on Saturday afternoon.
It will be first time the sides have faced each other since a Britt Assombalonga brace earned the Reds three points back in January 2017.
Since then, a lot has changed, including the line-up which I expect to be as follows: Pantilimon, Janko, Hefele, Fox, Robinson, Guedioura, Colback, Dias, Carvalho, Osborn, Grabban.
Depending on injuries and fatigue, I would not be expecting a dramatic change in Aitor Karanka’s line up, if any come 3 o’clock on Saturday.
Janko continues to start his Nottingham Forest career promisingly, with another athletic showing on Wednesday night, where he caused the visitors plenty of problems as he did against Swansea.
Hefele and Fox look to be forming a stern partnership in the middle and were unfortunate to concede late on, after such an authoritative evening.
Robinson looked impressive defensively and also found himself being able to question and stretch the opposition, with their eleven sitting so deep.
Jack Colback’s brave challenging in the middle of the park, made him a stand out performer in breaking down any sort of attack Wednesday seemed to mount – however he and Guedioura sometimes let their passing go amiss.
Gil Dias looked keen to impress when he came on and the opportunity to challenge Cash with a strong performance against Rotherham, should entice him even more.
Carvalho needs more time to settle and with his undoubted quality, he has the potential to play at his best against weaker opposition at the weekend.
Will be surprised to see Ben Osborn left out of the fold – wherever he is placed on the pitch, he seems to be one of the first names to go on the managers team sheet.
Now that Lewis Grabban has his first goal, he will be keen to set up a goal scoring run and maintain his net hitting form over the coming weeks, with the imminent arrival of a striker.
Newly promoted Rotherham United, have gathered a reputation as being somewhat of a ‘yo-yo’ club, between the English second and third tier.
Seemingly too good for League One and not at the standard of the Championship, Paul Warne’s men will be keen to solidify their place this year, after rising from the play off’s last year.
Currently in 18th position, the Millers have made an unusual start to the campaign – with highs like surprisingly beating Frank Lampard’s Derby County two weeks back, to being thrashed 5-1 on opening day by Brentford.
This was the Rotherham starting line-up which lost 2-0 to Aston Villa in mid week (4-4-2):
GK – Marek Rodák, RB – Zak Vyner, CB – Semi Ajayi, CB – Richard Wood (c), LB – Joe Mattock, RM – Richie Towell, CM – Will Vaulks, CM – Ryan Manning, LM – Ryan Williams, CF – Michael Smith, CF – Kyle Vassell
Rotherham’s main-man Joe Newell still remains a doubt with a hip injury, however Ryan Manning and Will Vaulks in the midfield will be key in halting Forest’s progress.
Warne will most likely set up as Wednesday did in midweek, with the intention to frustrate Forest – the Millers have already proven though that they can be competitive opposition to bigger teams.
Picture Credit: Nottingham Forest