It’s taken me a little while to come to terms with last nights action after being thoroughly annoyed that we’d dropped two points, conceding so late on after we had seemingly ‘stolen’ a win just minutes before.
It wasn’t a good Forest performance by any stretch and on reflection this morning, a draw was probably more than Forest deserved over the 90 minutes.
Sabri’s team selection had raised a few eyebrows as he’d opted to include Michael Dawson in a back three formation with the majority of our attacking talent left on the bench. The inclusion of Rafa Mir over Lewis Grabban was the biggest talking point; it backfired badly against Wigan but nevertheless it was an opportunity for the young Spaniard to show that he can contribute to the season.
Annoyingly, Sabri’s game plan went completely out of the window in the opening 15 minutes, when inexplicably neither Mir or Semedo picked up Shaun Williams who unmarked, headed into the net. Ben Watson’s reaction on the line to a fairly average header was bizarre but what on earth were the other two doing? The defending was absolutely criminal in my book and they rightly got slated by the half time punditry team. We all know what Gary Rowett’s teams are about and that set pieces are going to need defending. There was a sense of nonchalance about it that’s for sure.
I’ve questioned Semedo’s commitment before and I’m sorry; but you don’t let your team mates or manager down like that. Lazy. Sloppy. It was really poor. As for Rafa, he just seemed to drift away from his man needlessly to mark absolutely nobody. It really was textbook on how not to defend a set piece. Sabri must have been fuming.
Getting to grip with a new formation was causing its own problems let alone the existing issues of ball retention. I thought Forest looked a very poor side in the first 45 minutes. It was a throw back to the dark times and I seriously questioned any promotion aspirations based on that showing. Yes, teams have bad days but the league is about gaining momentum and at the moment, we don’t look capable of mustering what’s needed.
Sabri has held his hands up for the change and maybe he should have had more faith in his usual away set up; that has served him so well this season. I don’t think we need to tinker too much away from home if I’m honest but he’s new to the league and I can’t be to harsh on him. It’s easy to forget that he was a novice in English football when appointed earlier in the summer.
Thankfully the second half was much improved although defensively we struggled with Millwall going forwards. Whilst it was quite frenetic, I thought the game lacked genuine quality and at times, Forest played like a side on the park. There was plenty of commitment but we couldn’t string more than 2 or 3 passes together. The telly was getting it in the ear for sure!
Joe Lolley and Lewis Grabban’s introductions were just the tonic as all of a sudden, we looked a far greater threat and whilst there was a lack of quality in some of our play, Millwall were beginning to look shaky at the back.
Lewis deserves an awful lot of praise as he looked hungry and fired up to prove a point. Despite being harangued by the Millwall centre half in the initial phase that brought our equaliser, he resisted any temptations to drop to the floor and was focussed on finding another opportunity. A good header back across goal from Joe Worrall provided exactly that and Lewis couldn’t miss. Boom – we were back in it and I fancied us to snatch all three with the big guns on for the final showdown.
Forest continued to threaten and Matty Cash disappointingly couldn’t pick out a red shirt as he got down to the Millwall byline, with Lewis well placed in the box. Albert Adomah dragged his shot well wide as the ball fell to him from the subsequent passage. That moment encapsulated the Forest performance; plenty of endeavour but seriously lacking in quality. So frustrating!
Whilst Adomah struggled to make an impression off the bench going forwards, his endeavour to track back and thwart a Millwall attack brought about our second goal. His interception set up the attack that led to Ameobi’s run and teasing cross, that was finished with aplomb by Lewis for what looked the winning goal. There was a huge element of smash and grab all over this performance but Forest were flexing their promotion muscles. This was looking to be another big result in the campaign.
Annoying then, that another lapse in concentration cost us the three points at the death. Forest didn’t get anywhere near close enough to prevent Shaun Williams taking three touches before hitting a speculative long range shot that Brice Samba could only parry. The ball fell right into the path of O’Brien to get an equaliser. Brice definitely should have done better but a ricochet off Joe Worrall didn’t help matters. Im not sure if it’s just me but that’s the second time in a week that Joe has waved his boot at a strike rather than just trying to block it. Regardless of who was at fault, it was another poorly conceding goal.
There was still time for Millwall to go for a winner but thankfully one time Forest target Connor Mahoney could only find the side netting from a decent run. There was certainly relief at the final whistle as Millwall still looked hungry for the win.
Reflecting this morning, I’d said a point would’ve been a good result beforehand so I suppose we can’t be too downhearted. It makes my blood boil that we surrendered a lead going into the final moments; we really should have shut up shop.
As a team, we seemed to have lost our way a little over the last couple of games and we look a little indecisive going forwards.
I’m still pinching myself that we’re 4th, based on recent performances but the table doesn’t lie. Forest are very well placed considering there is still an awful lot of potential to be unlocked in the squad. The conundrum still persists in how Sabri gets the best out of Joe Lolley and Carvalho.
Onto the next one….
TEAM PERFORMANCE: 6 – Dreadful 1st half showing but were greatly improved after the break.
SAMBA: 6 – Starting to show a few chinks in the armour. Should have done better for the goal.
CASH: 6 – Lacked quality in the final third. Wasn’t his best evening.
ROBINSON: 6 – Did ok but another one that lacked quality on the ball at times.
DAWSON: 6 – Certainly looked a bit rusty but to be expected. Seemed to give the ball away needlessly at times.
WORRALL: 7 – Better second half and good assist for the equaliser.
FIGUERIEDO: 6 – Looked a bit uncomfortable on the right side of defence but did ok.
WATSON: 5 – Seemed to be the biggest loser in the managers tactical change. Was almost made redundant with a 3rd centre half. Couldn’t get into his usual groove.
SILVA: 6 – Frustrating at times but was at the heart of anything good we produced. Becoming a steady influence on the team with his quality.
AMEOBI: 6 – He does some good and then some bad but he is carrying the team with his attacking play. His minute by minute inconsistency sums us up nicely. Another assist but he needs some help.
SEMEDO: 5 – Needs a lesson about responsibility to his team mates when they’re vying for promotion. A complete liability first half but improved in the second with his drive from midfield.
MIR: 4 – Rafa just couldn’t get into the game and going a goal down early on really didn’t help him in how we set up. It’s a shame for all concerned.
GRABBAN: 8 – Man of the Match off the bench with two goals. When Lewis looks up for it, he’s as good as anything in the league.
LOLLEY: 7 – Galvanised the team with his direct running and changed the dynamics of the game.
ADOMAH: 5 – Struggling to beat his man in recent appearances. Looks off the boil but played his part in 2nd goal.