Another big away win for The Reds keeps the pendulum swinging on our promotion push from automatic contenders to handing onto a play off place.
Although the performance wasn’t champagne football, it was another stark reminder that when our forward players click, we look a very good side and Cardiff were the latest team to succumb to our counter attacking game.
From the off, Ameobi and Lolley were causing problems for the Cardiff rearguard and on another day, Forest may well have been a goal or two up by half time. Sammi Ameobi was the biggest thorn in Cardiff’s side and he hit a couple of decent efforts that either whistled past the post or brought a decent save from the Bluebirds keeper.
Ryan Yates should have done better from another good attack down the right hand side but he got underneath his shot and ballooned over the bar when well placed.
The best chance fell to Lewis Grabban however who was picked out by Joe Lolley, ten yards out from goal but he dragged his shot wide. Its so frustrating to see our top marksman spurn chances he should stick away for fun but I’d imagine that frustration is amplified x100 for Lewis himself. The positives are that whilst many strikers would lose all confidence after a 6 game barron run; he just brushes himself off and waits for the next one. The biggest testament I can pay Lewis that whilst it might not be going his way as an individual, he isn’t sulking and doing his upmost to help his team mates. His second half performance up top was nothing short of a master class.
The biggest talking point of the first half was Matty Cash’s tackle on Josh Murphy that looked a more than debatable penalty in first time watching. Knowing the referees in The Championship as we do all too well; we’ve seen them given for a lot less. You have to give credit to the referee because although Matty didn’t get much on the ball, it was enough to deviate away from Murphy’s path to goal. Pundit Jobi Mcanuff was convinced it was a penalty during the half time debrief but on further viewing, the video evidence certainly swayed in Matty’s favour (that he himself pointed out the next day. Not that McAnuffs opinion counted for much as he persisted in pronouncing Lewis Grabban’s name wrong (Grabb-an)!
I don’t know how people say I’m a lucky boy! I won the ball and his foot clearly stands on mine ? https://t.co/ISAL6WVbm6
— Matty Cash (@mattycash622) February 26, 2020
It was clear at the end of the first half that Cardiff were there for the taking with the notable absentee of ex-Forest loanee Lee Tomlin, who was pivotal in Cardiff’s win at The City Ground earlier in the season. A lack of quality was Forests biggest downfall and Tiago Silva was our biggest culprit…..
Enter the second half and Tiago went up a gear. A sublime left footed pass sent Lewis Grabban away on the right and having the presence to drive into the box, he finished with aplomb when the striker picked him out with a fine pass. I almost felt Tiago was taunting me at home with his fingers to the ears celebration in front of the jubilant away fans. Tiago can be quite the player for us and you can see why he gets the nod over Joao Carvalho. He had a cracking second half, ratting in the middle of the park but having the nouse to get us going on the counter.
Alfa Semedo’s introduction at half time was a smart move from the manager as he added a little more dynamism to our attack with his strong running. Alfa definitely has talent but we’ve not seen too much of that following an impressive start to the season. Let’s hope that he has seized an opportunity to make a claim for a staring place. This is exactly what we need at this stage of the season.
Forest retreated a little deeper as Cardiff went on tha search for an equalizer but our back five were superb. Joe Worrall has looked outstanding in the last couple of games. My biggest criticism of him this season is that no matter how well he has played at times, a lack of concentration has led to conceding. That might sound a little harsh but when he cuts those little things out, he looks a Premier League defender; he has it all. Long may his development continue although if he carries on, we might not be able to match what may well be on offer over the summer months.
Semedo was unlucky not to put the match to bed when a great bit of hold up play from Lewis Grabban put him in on goal. A good first touch out of his feet enabled him to get a shot away but a cracking block from Joe Bennett prevented a certain goal.
I could barely watch the final ten minutes and if this was a rollercoaster, i wanted to get off, retreating to the bathroom to listen to the commentary! We somehow missed a great opportunity to see the game up in injury time as Lewis Grabban couldn’t find the unmarked Tyler Walker just a few yards out but thankfully the ref blew for full time and that was that. It would’ve put the icing on the cake of another good away win but it didn’t matter; it’s all about the points now as we come round for the final stretch of the season.
Sabri spoke of ‘sacrifice’ of his players and you could tell he was delighted with the sides effort. Our biggest strength is character and it’s fantastic that we continue to defy the detractors and keep going. There’s still an extra gear to find in terms of attacking fluency and creativity but I wouldn’t be surprised one bit to see it all come together.
On a final note, and a bit of disappointing one unfortunately was the treatment of Ryan Yates by certain sections of the ‘fan base’. It’s not quite going Ryan’s way at the moment and reading some of the tweets on social media about his selection fills me with some despair. Whilst people are of course entitled to their opinions, some should really engage their brains before typing. It’s been well publicised how social media can be so damaging to those on the wrong end of it. Ryan and any other Forest player should not be experiencing it.
As a young player his confidence will be fragile enough on current form as he makes his way in the game. He’ll have a role to play yet in our promotion push and we need every single cog in the engine in tip top condition. To self sabotage this would be the most ridiculous thing going. There’s an old saying that you shouldn’t air your dirty linen in public. The fan base are doing just this with mindless tweets; it has to stop. I’ll maintain that if we are go up it will be as a collective including the fans. Imagine that if we get to Wembley and Ryan Yates is called upon; his confidence is completely shot at the fault of his own supporters. We need him to feel 10ft tall when he’s on the pitch and he’s more than demonstrated he can make a good contribution to the team.
We have to pull together. Up the Reds!!!
TEAM PERFORMANCE: 7 – Dug in deep and showed that all important moment of quality to win the game.
SAMBA: 8 – handling and distribution were excellent
CASH: 8 – Up and down the wing as ever and saw Josh Murphy off.
RIBIERO: 8 – Hell of a signing for a free. Smart.
WORRALL: 8 – MAN OF THE MATCH – Bleeds Red.
FIGUIERIDO: 7 – Stealth like how he goes unnoticed with top positional sense.
SILVA: 8 – Industrious and got the winner.
YATES: 6 – A little off the pace but harried and pressed well.
WATSON: 8 – Premier league experience really shining through with game know how. Strong captains performance.
AMEOBI: 7 – A real threat on the break.
LOLLEY: 8 – Worked his socks off and carried a threat until the end.
GRABBAN: 8 – Great showing up top on his own particularly 2nd half.
SEMEDO: 7 – Impressed.
WALKER: 6 – Nearly got himself a goal.
DIAKHABY – 6 – Nuisance.