On a massive night in the race for promotion to the Premier League then 4th placed Nottingham Forest took on 5th placed Brentford at Griffin Park. The match was a big test of both teams’ promotion credentials, Brentford were on a 6 game winning streak at home and the Forest boss said pre-match that it would be a tactical battle.
It was he who won the battle with a slight change to the way he lined his side up; Joe Lolley moved from his normal wide birth to a number 10 role and Tiago Silva moved to the left-hand side. This move worked a treat and caught Brentford by surprise – as not only was Lolley causing danger running through the centre of the pitch, he was stopping Brentford deep-lying playmaker Christian Norgaard from getting on the ball. It was Lolley himself who got the goal in the 14th minute. A Forest corner was half-cleared to Lolley who had time to get his shot away which took a deflection into the top corner.
Brentford started and continued to dominate the possession but Forest have shown this season they know how to deal with pressure away from home and hit teams superbly on the counter-attack. Brentford were put off by Forest’s physicality and perceived time-wasting, with goalkeeper Brice Samba getting booked for taking too long to take a free-kick after just 24 minutes.
The match was being played at frenetic tempo with action at both ends of the pitch. Forest should have had the chance to go 2 up when Lewis Grabban was tugged back in the area but for some reason, the penalty was not given, Brentford broke from that incident to create their best opportunity for Ollie Watkins but their top scorer blazed over.
Brentford pushed on after half time in pursuit of an equaliser but again Forest were a threat on the break and Lewis Grabban had a great chance when a long ball dropped for him in the box but keeper David Raya saved at point-blank range. Brentford’s famous “BMW” frontline were superbly managed by the Forest defenders and although Brentford had chances, they didn’t come off.
The victory saw Forest climb to third in the table, with West Brom losing 2-1 at Cardiff, and just 2 points behind the baggies in 2nd place. Leeds went back to the top after a thrilling three goal comeback from 2-0 down.
Forest face Leeds at home in 10 days and West Brom a week later in two vital and exciting games. The opportunity is there for Forest to overtake their rivals. Of Course, it is exciting to be in with the chance of automatic promotion, but a play-off spot would be great.
Brentford manager Thomas Frank said after that match:
” It was a 0-0 game and not a good game of football for both sides. Forest are a good side and they are where they are for a reason. They are well organised and set out to make it scrappy from minute one. When you see them time-wasting so early you know you have done something good at Griffin Park. They paid us a lot of respect and didn’t let us get any tempo in the game.”
Nottingham Forest’s Sabri Lamouchi:
“[It was a] massive win on a difficult pitch against one of the best teams in the league. The players’ attitude, character, and personality was perfect. We were lucky to score early on and this changed the game, but to be honest the team deserved this result.” He added in an interview with BBC Radio Nottingham that he was hoping for a good surprise in the transfer market and chose to rather praise his current squad than talk about possible incomings.
Forest are desperate for a striker to ease the pressure, workload and help Lewis Grabban. Nakki Wells has been heavily linked and would be top of the list. It will come down to how much forest are willing to pay and if Wells is happy enough to possibly be the second choice to Grabban.