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On Saturday the 3rd of march, Nottingham Forest played out a 2-1 victory over league strugglers Birmingham City, subsequently leading to the termination of manager Steve Cotterill’s contract.
Forest proved that you don’t need to play particularly well to get a result, which for me is pleasing, as if Forest are really at the races, we could do teams damage with Tomlin, Cash and Lolley on great form.
You begin to get the feeling of a project coming together piece by piece, as the new signings have settled in well, with Lolley bagging two goals on the trot.
With Karanka’s ‘love letter’ handed out to fans before the game, the ‘loving feeling’ is finally returning, as we come out the shadows of the Fawaz era.
Forest started the game sharply, with a fast break leading to Tomlin setting Lolley on his way and with green grass ahead of him, he skipped through, with his powered shot too strong for Stockdale to palm away. We also saw another Matty Cash goal as he finally begins to show glimpses of what he could be, in comparison to last season, as Mark Warburton felt he had potential as a full back.
However, he looks revitalised in this Karanka team as the shackles have been removed, with the youngster showing great pace and ability to beat a man, but also strength and end product.
Forest were also unable to keep a clean sheet which is frustrating from a defensive point of view, as Forest were undone by yet another set piece goal. Despite this slip up, the defensive partnership of Fox and Figueiredo looks solid and full of composure, with both players not shy of making a cutting pass.
Figueiredo in particular looks a great signing, with the player available to buy in the summer if we please.
Despite conceding a goal, Forest move to 13 points of the relegation zone allowing for some deserved breathing space.
Forest had a bright start to the game, as the first chance came to Lolley in the sixth minute. The winger picked the ball up from Tomlin mid-way into the Birmingham half, skipping past a defender before smashing the ball past David Stockdale from the edge of the box.
The keeper nearly kept it out, but Lolley’s strike was too strong, as Stockdale could only palm it into the bottom corner. The next chance fell to Birmingham in the 15th minute, with a great Maghoma ball into the box, but Kieftenbeld could only sky the ball into the Trent End.
The visitors were putting on the pressure, as a Craig Gardner ball flew into the box, but Dean failed to convert from a tight angle.
Into the second half, as Ben Brereton came off for veteran Daryl Murphy.
The first chance fell to the Red’s, but a great save from Stockdale denied a left footed Matty Cash strike. Forest were enjoying a good spell of the game, as Darikwa pressed forward, but his shot could only be palmed away by Stockdale.
Daryl Murphy then had a great chance in the 65th minute, but the Irishman failed to convert a Matty Cash cross, with his shot going just wide of the post. It was all Forest at this point, as Forest broke through the middle, with Tomlin playing through Colback, who’s shot was held by Stockdale.
Birmingham had a chance soon after, as a corner was whipped into the box in the 76th minute, but a fine save from Pantillimon denied the striker.
Forest reacted well to the chance, as they broke forward with Osborn, who played a great switch of play to cash down the right, who managed to break into the box and slot it home into the bottom left corner, under Stockdale. Forest were then handed a reality check in the 87th minute as a Craig Gardner corner finds Morrison who converted with a powerful header.
The game finished 2-1, as Forest managed to hold on and take home all three points.
Costel Pantillimon – 6 – made a key save at a crucial period, but struggled to claim a couple crosses, which with his height is worrying.
Tendayi Darikwa – 5 – Darikwa struggled defensively at times with the full back allowing too many crosses into the box, which has been Forest’s strongest weakness. Was good going forward at times, with the defender conjuring up a couple chances.
Tobias Figueiredo – 7 – Figueiredo was particularly impressive, as he has been in the past few games. The Portuguese centre half won almost everything in the air and was very composed on the ball.
Danny Fox – 6.5 – was also impressive at centre back and appears to have formed an impressive partnership with Figueiredo. Was also composed on the ball, making a few successful switches of play.
Ben Osborn – 6 – Osborn achieved an assist with an impressive switch of play to Cash, but was often caught out defensively due to his pace and poor strength.
Ben Watson – 6 – Watson was a great leader on the pitch and organised the team well. Made a few key challenges, but had a freight as he almost scored an own goal in the dying stages.
Jack Colback – 6.5 – Colback once again had a great performance and made the transition from defence to attack particularly well, breaking forward well. He also tracked back well and made a few key challenges
Joe Lolley (MOTM) – 8 – secured a goal after a great run and never gave up all game, chasing the ball down constantly. Showed great pace down the flanks and at the opposition.
Lee Tomlin – 6.5 – Tomlin provided an assist for Lolley’s goal and played with a great swagger all game. Couldn’t quite keep up the goal scoring form, but showed great creativity.
Matty Cash -7 – Cash was impressive securing a second goal in two successive games with a great low finish against Stockdale. He displayed great pace and trickery against a struggling Birmingham defence.
Ben Brereton – 5.5 – failed to make an impact, with the youngster being substituted for Murphy at half time, as he struggled with aerial duels against a tall Birmingham defence.
Daryl Murphy (sub) – 4 – looked sluggish and failed to win his aerial duels, which was partly the reason he came on.
Adlene Guedioura (sub) – 5 – came on within the last twenty minutes of the game and made some nice turns. Kept possession well and held the ball up when needed.
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