Well, well, well the trip to Hull on Boxing Day proved to be the perfect Christmas present for Forest fans as we were without a win in five games. With several dissenting voices beginning to question the manager, it was fantasttic to see such a spirited performace from Forest at the KCOM Stadium.
We looked a threat from the off yesterday and started reasonably brightly with the ball. However, this was somewhat tainted by Chema receiving a yellow card for his second late tackle in the opening 3 minutes and leaving him up against the in form Hull winger just a foul away from finishing his afternoon. The resulting free kick from Bowen almost led to the opening goal, Jackson Irvine missing badly, sliding in at the back post from just 5 yards out. It was a bit of a let off for Chema but for the rest of the game, he kept Bowen pretty much at bay.
Thiago Silva has had his critics in recent games but he too started brightly and his pinpoint free kick for Joe Worrall to head down to Samba Sow led to the games opener via a Lewis Grabban penalty. Sow doesn’t look the most natural on the ball but when he forced his way into the box, a clumsy tackle was enough to concede a relatively soft penalty from a Hull perspective. The inconsistency in the refereeing standards continues as there had been a carbon copy one not given for Sow at Huddersfield on Saturday! George Long, Hull’s keeper made himself look a bit stupid by trying to put Lewis off before taking his penalty. The eyes clearly didn’t work as Lewis whipped the ball straight down the middle of the goal and beyond Long’s diving legs. Lewis showed him exactly what he thought of the keepers’ gamesmanship and celebrated in front of him with his team mates rushing in to join him. It led to a bit of a melee which Ben Watson seemed to enjoy immensely.
Moments after, Samba Sow was still limping following the dead leg he received in the earlier penalty incident and he went down on three occasions before having to retire for the afternoon. Thankfully it doesn’t look too bad for Samba but I remember Figueriedo’s dead leg keeping him out for 7 months last season. I’ll try and remain optimistic but he looked happy enough post match!
— samba sow (@sambsow) December 26, 2019
Forest continued to cause Hull problems with some much better ball retention with Thiago Silva at the heart of things. Chema and Semedo worked an opening down the left hand side where Joe Lolley acrobatically volleyed well over when he was well placed to get an effort on target. Nevertheless, this was much better from Forest and to a man, they just looked so much up for this than they did in their previous two outings. It certainly resembled the Forest side from such a good win at Luton a few months back. We were looking resilient at the back and this was typified by a great tackle on Grosicki by Joe Worrall after Ben Watson had been dispossessed in midfield.
The first half was littered with Forest players going down injured and genuinely, this seemed to be more of the case than not. Samba Sow went down for the second time, struggling to shake off a knock but cheekily, he was smiling whilst on the floor, much to the oppositions annoyance! Despite hobbling off, Samba was still doing his best to get back on the pitch after a quick chat with the manager on the touchline. Joe Lolley was the next player to go down and after being on the receiving end of Huddersfield’s antics on Saturday, it was good to see the opposing fans losing their rags with the Forest players to chants of ‘cheats, cheats, cheats’. The ref was getting in the ear from the stands and Joe received a chorus of boos when he was back on his feet. Fans getting upset at refs in The Championship? Well I never!!
Forest we’re pressing the ball really well, high up the pitch, and both Silva and Semedo were unfortunate not to get more reward for their endeavor at closing down the Hull back line. Tobi Figueriedo was having another excellent game at centre-half and was alert to sweep up any balls into the channels from Hull. Ben Watson and Joe Worrall were both scrapping to break up attacks and this was starting to look more Forest of old. As a unit we are a different team but this Forest outfit is not about individuals as such this season.
Joe Lolley went down again following a strong tackle from Callum Elder and having seen the replay, the referee got that one right in fairness; to play on and not award a free kick or anything worse. Ironically, Elder aggravated an existing injury in the tackle and that was his final kick of the game. Thiago Silva was dictating most of our good play from the centre of midfield, having the composure to carry and use the ball accurately. Just as our midfield three were returning anywhere like to the form we’ve seen earlier in the season, Samba Sow was struggling once more and eventually went down for a third time, much to the annoyance of the Hull players and fans. Amazingly, he got himself back onto the pitch for a final attempt but he was still struggling and inevitably had to be replaced by Sammi Ameobi. A tactical reshuffle saw Semedo tuck into midfield alongside Ben Watson with Thiago Silva moving into the advances No.10 position. Momentarily, Hull got a bit of momentum with a couple of attacks that both Figueriedo, Chema and Watson stood up to well again.
A beautiful passage of play involving Grabban and Silva put Matty Cash in a great position down the right hand side but his cross was badly lacking in quality. It was symptomatic of our recent problems where we have to better on the ball if we reckon our promotion credentials.
We were only four minutes into the second half when a high foot from De Wries left Thiago Silva in a heap on the floor. It didn’t look too pretty on the replay as the defender raked his boot down Silva. The ref didn’t see anything wrong with that tackle and initially he wouldn’t let the Forest physio on. The Hull fans were being riled once more but Thiago looked genuinely injured. Forest were looking increasingly dangerous on the break but got caught on the counter themselves after our corner was cleared way too easily. With two men over in the counter attack, Jared Bowen selfishly went for goal but his shot was well charged down by Ben Watson. It was a real let off in honesty, as a better decision from Bowen could have brought a Hull equalizer but you couldn’t really blame him for hanging onto the ball given his success in front of goal this season. Massive credit to Watson though for closing the Hull danger man down. It summed up his afternoon, true commitment from the Forest skipper.
Lewis Grabban was massively unlucky not to prod in his second following some excellent work down the right from Matty Cash with some assistance from Sammi Ameobi earlier in the move. Sammi looked a little rejuvenated yesterday following recent performances and was at the heart of some of our better play n the second half. Hull were pretty much giving Lewis Grabban the freedom of the City and his run and shot in from the left, having been found by a great ball from Ben Watson, was blocked before it reached the Hull goal. Another great move from Forest, started by Silva, should have presented an opportunity for Lewis in the box but once again, the final pass, this time from Ameobi, was lacking in quality when we were well placed to put the game to bed.
Forest were really starting to knock on Hull’s door and we really should’ve wrapped things up in the 78th after more good play from Cash, Grabban and Silva got Lolley running at the Hull full back. Joe’s pull back picked out Ryan Yates, in acres of space inside the box, but his side foot shot was straight from the Geoff Thomas book of finishing (remember him?), badly dragging the ball wide.
Fortunately the resulting attack from Hull could only lead to the in-form Bowen missing his header when well placed in the box. After that sigh of relief, Forest did finish things off thankfully a few moments later. Good play from Grabban and Silva put Lewis in on goal and as he got himself set, he cracked home a measured near post finish to wrap things up. It was a lovely goal from Lewis considering the move started on the half way line and that’s not the first time he’s scored with a near post. Lewis looks such a good player when we play to his strengths and with a lot more service yesterday, he looked to really enjoy his afternoon. More of this please!!!!
Hull were getting frustrated as Forest controlled the final moments and they were very lucky not to finish the game with ten men. Following some dogged work from Lolley and Watson, a right hook from Bowen in frustration looked to have caught the Forest skipper after both players had fallen to the ground. It was definitely a violent response to a cheeky tug from the Forest captain. The ref somehow didn’t deem it enough to be a rad card and booked both players. Credit to Watson, he could have made a meal of it but he got up and the incident let with a handshake and smile.
The Forest fans were in fine voice at the death and it feels like the players have put the wheels back on the promotion push with that performance. This was much more like it but we now face two massive games at The City Ground. Whilst Sabri and the players are going to have to come up with something decent to break the home form hoodoo, the fans really need to be raising the roof off the place. We can really play our part. I’m hoping that there’ll be a rousing call from Sabri to bring this. I know it’s not a Derby game but we need that level of support. Wigan might be bottom of the league but we know how these things go at Forest. So dig out the scarves again and let’s get The City Ground bouncing on Sunday.
TEAM PERFORMANCE: 8 – All at it. It will be a team effort to get us into the play offs and although it wasn’t pretty at times, this was a performance that got us up the league table in the first place.
SAMBA: 7 – Seems to have brushed a few below par performances off and looks the assured character we’ve seen for the majority of the season between the sticks.
CASH: 7 – Usual effort from Cash and you have to say Grosicki didn’t do an awful lot. Defended well.
CHEMA: 7 – Added a bit of steel at the back. Like the look of him I have to say.
FIGUERIEDO: 8 – Solid at the back. He’s playing well and is playing error free.
WORRALL: 7 – Looked more like his old self at Hull. Much, much better defending. A threat in the opposition box too.
SEMEDO: 7 – His best game in months. Offered a physical presence and energy in midfield.
WATSON: 7 – Excellent from Ben. Best game he’s had in weeks. The return of Sow allows him to play to his potential.
SILVA: 7 – Classy performance from Thiago. Hull couldn’t stop fouling him. Hopefully can put a run of games together now. He’s a big player for us the hen he’s on song.
LOLLEY: 7 – Excellent from Joe. Lots of endeavour and slowly but surely, his quality on the ball is getting better.
SOW: 6 – Was having a good game before being subbed off.
GRABBAN: 8 – Man of the Match. Looks a different player when his team mates help him out and give him the ball. Worked really hard too and looked up for it from the off.
AMEOBI: 6 – Added to the creativity but frustratingly still hit and miss with his final ball. His strong running is such an outlet at times though.
YATES: 6 – Had been itching to get on and was right into the thick of it as soon as he came on.
CARVALHO: 5 – Came on for the final moments.