Following a few beers at an Evening with Des Walker last night and the disappointment of the rugby this morning, I did wonder whether this would be our day. Any doubts were quickly banished following the way that we started the game. Talk about being at it. This was a side of Forest that’s been missing for a few matches but it’s good to have them back. We thoroughly deserved the 3 points at Luton.
It’s not a coincidence that Joe Lolley and Lewis Grabban both looked hungry from the start and it was bloody brilliant to see. Lewis was unlucky not to have earned a penalty after bamboozling Luton’s centre half with a run in behind, the ball hit their man plum on the arm and I was a little bemused as to why it wasn’t given. Perhaps it was because the defender was looking more at Grabban than the ball but for me, it looked a stone wall penalty. Grabban continued to be a threat and if truth be told, he missed a sitter when Forest were getting on top of Luton’s defence. Thankfully, he didn’t let it bother him and he continued to be a thorn in Luton’s defence. For the first time in a while, Lewis was playing on the shoulders of defenders and that really is his strength. Lolley, Silva and Ameobi were looking to feed him each time they picked the ball up. It’s certainly the most potent we’ve looked in front of goal since potentially the Swansea game.
Lewis took his goal extremely well, pouncing on some hesitation before showing speed, strength and was ruthless in the finish to put Forest ahead. Pouncing, speed, strength, ruthless; I’ve just described a tiger…Joe Lolley was notably back to the much more familiar player of last season. He looked a threat every time he picked the ball up and was unlucky not to get an assist or two in the first half. He did well to react and get on the end of a Matty Cash cross in the second phase but just couldn’t direct his header with the Luton keeper rooted to the spot. Joe’s work ethic was there to see and he got a cracking reception from the fans as he was replaced. Let’s make no mistake here; I feel a lot more confident going into next week with these pair back on song. Let’s hope it’s not a flash in the pan and I feel confident enough that it won’t be. When Grabban looks hungry, Forest look a completely different team.
Ryan Yates and Thiago Silva had excellent games in front of Ben Watson, providing energy and guile that has been sadly lacking in recent games. Thiago really is growing with every match and it’s looking difficult to see where Joao Carvalho fits into this away day set up. With Cash and Ribeiro playing as almost back up wingers, we’d look lightweight with a number 10 in the mix. It’s going to be a conundrum to solve but as long as Forest are winning, Sabri won’t be getting the stick that Martin O’Neill was absolutely hammered about last season (me included in that).
Sammi Ameobi looked to have wrapped things up with a deflected goal but Callum McManaman’s 87 minute goal made sure that there were a few nerves in the dying moments on the game. In fairness, we didn’t really look too troubled and so the win takes us back into the play-off places. The win certainly sets us up nicely for the visit of the sheep who have also started to pick up from their shaky start.
Lastly, congratulations to Sabri Lamouchi. He’s had a bit of criticism in the last few games and I’ll admit, the lack of chances and quality we were showing in the final third was becoming a bit of a concern. From the off, we looked really purposeful and set the tone for the game. This is the Forest we want to see. Brave in our play to hurt the opposition; I know how good we can be when the mind-set is right. Top Banana Sabri!
TEAM PERFORMANCE – 8 – Excellent performance to a man.
SAMBA – 7: Called upon in the first half and dealt with everything thrown at him. With sugar on top.
CASH – 8: Like a second winger in the first half particularly. Jenkinson won’t be getting his shirt back.
RIBEIRO – 7: Composed on the ball and adds extra dimension to our play.
WORRALL – 8: Held firm at the back.
FIGUERIDO- 8: Best game of the season for Tobi. Looks hard as nails with his new barnet.
YATES – 7: Great effort from Ryan in his first start of the season. Energy we needed.
WATSON – 7: Consistent from Ben.
SILVA – 8: His quality is really starting to shine. Excellent.
LOLLEY – 8 : Looked hungry from the off. I recognise this Joe.
AMEOBI – 7: Some good moments and despite the deflection, his shot looked like it was going in regardless.
GRABBAN – 8: Best game of the season. MAN OF THE MATCH
ADOMAH – 6: Game was almost done when he came on.
ROBINSON – 6: Came on and contributed in the final 10 minutes.
MIR – 5: Replaced the hard working Grabban.