How pleasing was that to see Forest finish the holiday with their third win on the bounce? Very. The much maligned home form certainly found a new gear at times yesterday and sent out a reminder to the league that when our front three players click, we look a very potent side. Albeit it wasn’t a perfect Forest performance; moments of magic from Lewis Grabban, Joe Lolley and Sammi Ameobi proved that when we can get our act together as a collective, there are plenty of goals in this Forest side. It was the first time we had managed 3 goals at home since the Derby League Cup game in September and it has been a long wait time for Forest to show this much confidence in our own abilities.
I thought Joe Lolley in particular was excellent and right from the off, he was prepared to twist and turn past his full back. Supported by Matty Cash behind, the partnership is as good as it gets in The Championship for me. If Joe can continue on this pathway, we are in for some very exciting times. Sabri’s set up to push the full backs higher up the pitch was evident once more for the opening goal with Matty Cash collecting a delightful chipped pass from Brice Samba in a right wing position. It’s great to see that Cash is supported by Joe Lolley, holding his position further up on the byline. Joe has needed a bit of luck in recent weeks and his cross come shot was the ultimate ‘percentage ball’ into the box as his menacing deliberately found the back of the net via Ameobi’s attempt/dummy. The right hand partnership certainly gives food for thought for opposition managers on how to stop the pair. I’ve said it before and I don’t mind saying it again; this right hand side partnership has the potential to be the best I’ve seen at Forest for 20 odd years. That last partnership would be Steve Stone and Des Lyttle who attacked and defended as a pack back in the mid 1990’s. Whether our current pairing can go onto reach those heights remains to be seen but it’s no surprise that when Joe Lolley plays well, we look a different team. Game by game, Joe is getting better this season and hopefully we haven’t seen the best of him yet.
— Matty Cash (@mattycash622) January 1, 2020
Sammi Ameobi deserves huge credit for his involvement in the deciding goal in the game let alone his ‘assist’ for Joe Lolley’s opener. Whilst Sammi can infuriate with his play from one moment to the next, he wouldn’t be at Forest if he was anymore consistent. There is no question that he continues to be our most potent attacking threat and without checking, I am pretty certain that he is top of the assist charts for Forest. Faced on a one to one with his full back, we’ve seen on plenty of occasions that he is incredibly difficult to stop. Add to that a peach of a cross, that we have seen at QPR and Millwall already; then that is ultimate wing play in a nutshell. Joe Lolley had it all to do by himself at times last season so it’s great that Sammi is contributing….all for a free transfer I might add. It’s a question now if Sammi can add a bit more consistency to his overall play and weigh in with a few more goals because he could be worth his weight in gold. He is already proving what an asset he is to the squad since joining in the summer. Great stuff.
And then I come onto Lewis Grabban who had an excellent game yesterday. I’d say it was up there with probably his best performance at The City Ground in terms of his overall play coming together with two goals. He has looked a real threat in the last few games and his work rate and effort to make something happen from open play has been really encouraging. I have criticized Lewis in the past for perhaps not effecting the game when he is solely relying on service but in the last few games, I have seen a player hungry to get a move started lower down the pitch before adding the killer touch at the other end. His goals against Hull and Blackburn were both started by him, alert to picking the ball up and using it well. His desire and movement to get into positions to pick up the next pass is exactly what I’d been expecting from Lewis since we signed him. In the last few games, Lewis has really started to come into his own, taking responsibility and grabbing the game by it’s horns. He’s bloody good at it too! His two goals from open play over Christmas reminded me a little of a certain Stan Collymore. His header yesterday was an absolute beaut to guide it back across the keeper and inside the far post. Its no fluke either as it was very similar to the one he got against Birmingham earlier in the season. He certainly made up for the easy miss against Wigan in the previous game!
Our striker ❤️ @grabbs22
— Nottingham Forest FC (@NFFC) January 2, 2020
Sabri was certainly true to his words that something needed to change at home and with the return of Samba Sow, I thought that he pretty much picked our strongest midfield and front 3 available to him. From the off we looked a lot better; a team that were prepared to press higher up the pitch. Sow is a huge player for us and his quality lifts the rest of the team. I thought Ben Watson had an improved game behind him and Thiago Silva showed his class at times once more. It was much better to watch and as a collective going forwards I thought we looked dangerous throughout the game. It was a real shame to see Chema go off earlier with a reoccurrence of a hip problem as he started the game really brightly. His outside of the boot pass to find Joe Lolley in the box proved a decisive moment as we scored from the resulting penalty after Joe was hauled down by the Blackburn keeper. I wasn’t sure how good Chema was on the ball if I’m honest but that pass suggested that maybe he can play the attacking left back role. Sadly it proved to be his last real action of the game but hopefully his substitution was more of a precaution than a longer term injury.
Just I was looking to enjoy the players really putting their stamp on the game, we let Blackburn back into things with a really poor goal that again seemed to be more of our own doing. Caught on the break, nobody in a red shirt seemed to fancy Stewart Downing might roll back the years with an accomplished finish as he was given plenty of time to pick his shot. It was some finish though. Touche. If the first goal was a bad one to concede, the second; a Joe Worrall own goal was a real stinker that once again made for a nervy finish at The City Ground. I’ll keep banging on about it but we don’t half cause our own problems. Thankfully though, the players stood up to the test and showed a great deal of character to come away with the win.
There is certainly room for improvement but that was the most encouraging performance for some time at home particularly with the ball. At the start of the season, I would have been surprised to see that Forest would be 4th placed in The Championship going into the New Year. It’s all to play for and the transfer window is a huge one. Let’s hope Sabri gets his belated Christmas presents from Mr Marinakis.
TEAM PERFORMANCE: 7 – Ball retention and keeping possession is still a big problem for me but you can’t argue with the quality of some of our forward play that brought the goals.
SAMBA: 7 – Solid. Should he have given Joe Worrall a call for their 2nd goal? Great ball to Matty Cash for the opener.
CASH: 8 – Superb once again.
CHEMA: 6 – Started brightly before going off.
WORRALL: 6 – Seemed to deal with most things that come his way but another error unfortunately. He’ll be a to player if he can cut them out.
FIGUERIEDO: 8 -Strong once more from Tobi.
SOW: 7 – Led the hunt in Forest’s midfield with his presence and energy. He is the teams most important player.
SILVA: 7 – Never stopped working in midfield. Saw great bits of skill and passing.
WATSON: 7 – Looks a lot happier with Sow in the team to support with the ugly stuff. Played his part in the third goal, picking up a loose ball and starting the passage of play.
LOLLEY: 7 – It’s getting better man.
AMEOBI: 6 – Played his part in the goals but still inconsistent. We’ll have a hell of a player on our hands if he can find a bit more.
GRABBAN: 8 – MAN OF THE MATCH – Masterclass in leading the line and scoring the goals.
ROBINSON: 5 – Still a bit shaky. Looks low on confidence.
SEMEDO: 5 – Worked hard when he came on but lacked quality with the ball.
ADOMAH: 5 – Came onto hold the fort at the end