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Nottingham Forest 2 – Leeds United 0

Nottingham Forest produced a fine display in front of a vibrant sell-out City Ground crowd to close the gap to the automatic promotion places to just a single point.

Sabri Lamouchi made one change from last weekend’s defeat to Birmingham City as the returning Samba Sow replaced Ryan Yates in the centre of the Forest midfield. There was also a place on the substitutes’ bench for new signing Gaetan Bong following his arrival from Brighton and Hove Albion.

The match started fairly slowly, Forest’s first effort on target coming from Thiago Silva whose long-range shot was easily saved. Forest also had a good penalty shout when Joe Worall was pulled to the ground from a corner kick.
Marcelo Bielsa’s men were looking dangerous coming forward but as is so often the case lacked the cutting edge in attack. Ezgjan Alioski came close as his effort deflected off Joe Lolley on the edge of the Forest box but fortunately for The Reds, it drifted wide of Brice Samba’s goal.

Forest made the most of that scare as they hit the front two minutes later. Ameobi got his head down and drove into the Leeds penalty area Forest made the most of that scare as they hit the front two minutes later. Ameobi got his head down and drove into the Leeds penalty area following a good one-two with Yuri Ribero, Ameobi had the option the cross to Lewis Grabban who was in a good position but lashed a shot beyond Casilla who looked as if he was expecting Ameobi the cross to the delight of the ecstatic Reds supporters.


Arguably, Forest deserved their advantage and they certainly should have doubled the lead ten minutes into the second half. A superb driving run from Lolley made space inside the final third, he laid the ball off to Lewis Grabban and despite shifting it cleverly to the right, he then drilled his shot straight at the legs of a floored Casilla.


Forest keeper Samba produced an outstanding save to keep Forest in front with 15 minutes to play. Liam Cooper was left unmarked inside the Forest penalty area and he met a left-wing corner and despite Samba being on the floor at the time, he stretched a hand up into the air to miraculously claw the defender’s header off the line. From some angles, in the crowd, the ball looked over the line but TV goal-line technology showed the ball was plum on the line when Samba punched it away.


In the final minute of stoppage time, Joe Lolley did superbly well to win the ball inside the Leeds half, powered on into the box and squared it to the supporting Walker who tapped home into Casilla’s unguarded net. It was a dream return to Forest for Walker who came on as a late substitute for Lewis Grabban to make his first City Ground appearance in around 2 years, during which he has enjoyed excellent scoring form in loan spells at Mansfield and Lincoln.

There was a big-game feel on Trentside and Forest were the team who left with all the glory. It was an absorbing, entertaining end-to-end contest, despite Leeds predictably having 70% possession they struggled to create a cut chance, with Forest once again proving they are hard to break down and looked by far the more threatening in an energetic, resourceful and clinical counter-attacking display.

Nottingham Forest boss, Sabri Lamouchi: “It was a massive result and a massive performance against a fantastic team. Leeds made more mistakes than usual, but we disturbed them without the ball. My players played with fight and determination and they played so well today. The players made me so proud and happy. We have 15 more games and we play again in three days. This league is crazy and you must be ready each game. My goal was to finish the season, the last time a [Forest] manager did that was 11 or 12 seasons ago.”

Match Stats

FORESTLEEDS
POSSESION30%70%
SHOTS1413
SHOTS ON TARGET61
CORNERS 38
FOULS 1114
Click above to watch match highlights on youtube

FOREST v LEEDS Preview

Nottingham Forest versus Leeds is always one of the biggest matches of the season for Forest fans. This one however is bigger than ever, taking on extra significance as both teams are in the race for promotion. Leeds are second four points ahead of fourth- placed Forest which means a win for either side will have a massive effect on their chances of automatic promotion.

Form Guide

Leeds are on a poor run of form with just one win in six, whilst losing four which has seen the gap between the two sides dramatically diminish – due to Forest’s form of three wins, two draws, and one defeat in the last six. That one defeat was last weekend as Forest let a 1-0 lead slip against Birmingham, in a game that turned quickly when Lewis Grabban missed a penalty for the chance to go 2-0 up. Birmingham equalised almost immediately after Forest had bossed proceedings up until then. At the same time, Leeds were losing at home to Wigan (again), which meant Forest could have closed the gap even more and put themselves in a position to leapfrog Leeds with victory over them.

TEAM NEWS

Forest are hopeful that midfielder Samba Sow will be able to return to the side after missing the defeat to Birmigham, Sow has proved a key man having missed all but one of Forest’s defeats this season. Leeds also have a key midfielder missing with Kalvin Phillips missing through suspension. Both sides must decide whether to give debuts to Strikers signed in the January transfer window. Neither Nuno Da Costa (Forest) nor Jean-Kevin Augustin (Leeds) featured last weekend and should both be on the bench for this one.

Head To Head

Forest have a good recent record against Leeds, The meeting at Elland Road this season ended dramatically as Lewis Grabban scored a late equaliser to secure Forest a vital point. Last season’s meetings also had drama and controversy. Forest were leading 1-0 at Elland Road until late on when Kemar Roofe handled the ball into the goal, but the goal was given. The match at the City Ground took place on New Year’s Day 2019 and Forest were 4-2 victors after a topsy-turvy encounter. Leed’s last victory came in August 2017 with a 2-0 victory at the City Ground.

Elsewhere in the Promotion race, leaders West Brom travel to play-off chasing Millwall on Sunday, Fulham are at Blackburn Rovers, Brentford are at home to Middlesbrough, Bristol City play Birmingham on Friday night and Swansea are at home against Derby County.

Championship Table (Top 10)

PositionTeam PointsGD
1.West Bromwich Albion5620
2.Leeds United5519
3,Fulham5213
4.Nottingham Forest5111
5.Brentford5026
6.Bristol City504
7.Preston North End478
8.Swansea City461
9.Millwall453
10.Blackburn Rovers446

Brentford 0-1 Forest – Match Report

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.

Nottingham Forest 3 – Luton 1

Nottingham Forest came from behind to beat bottom of the table Luton Town to move 5 points within the second automatic promotion spot with a game in hand, that game ahead is on Wednesday Night against Reading at The City Ground.

The prospect of that gap being 2 points is quite remarkable when you consider it was as big as 14 points in December when Forest were in the midst of a traditional slump during that month. However, unlike previous seasons, the slump has not continued post-Christmas – Forest winning 4 and drawing 1 since then. Along with second-placed Leeds going through another traditional slump in form has meant Forest are not out of the automatic promotion contention.

However, if they are to achieve this target they will have to improve performances, today’s match was another example of Forest not dominating the play but finding a way to win. They started slowly and allowed Luton early possession and pressure which led to Luton taking a deserved lead through Harry Cornick after 23 minutes. The goal came from the area where Luton were looking most dangerous, with a cross from the left-hand side from Potts.

The first half was a physical battle in midfield which Luton were largely winning, however, when Forest’s Ben Watson won one of these battles, Luton complained it was a foul but Forest played on and a superb cross-field pass from Yuri Ribero found Joe Lolley who ran at his full-back and fired a shot which was not handled by Luton keeper Simon Sluga, who should have done a lot better.

Forest improved massively after the half time break being on the front for much of it, the pressure told when Lolley scored with a fantastic strike into the top corner from outside the box after Watson’s good pass found him on the right-wing from where he cut inside before finishing. Lolley was a constant threat in the second half, running past players every time he got the ball. He created more chances to extend the lead and put the game beyond doubt but efforts from Tiago Silva and Sammy Ameobi went just wide.

Luton came slightly back into it in the last 10 minutes but Forest won a penalty with just minutes remaining when Silva’s free-kick struck Sonny Bradley’s hand in the wall. Lewis Grabban converted to get grab his 15th goal of the season to secure the 3 points.

Nottingham Forest January Targets

Everyone connected with Nottingham Forest knows they are after a new striker, Lewis Grabban is a top striker at Championship level but he needs someone else to help him. If Grabban were to get injured Forest have nobody else to call upon and it is far too much to ask him to play every single match.

As for who will come in, there are many options from proven goal scorers to hungry youngsters. If Forest try to bring in another top-class striker then there will be stumbling blocks. Dwight Gayle, for example, has been the name on many fans lips, but would he be willing to join knowing he will still have to fight off competition from Grabban for a starting place?

Newcastle United striker Dwight Gayle

Would Forest be willing to pay what would be a hefty transfer fee (Reports claim only bids above £15m would tempt Newcastle United into doing business) and wages? and finally, Are Newcastle willing to sell? Another player who the same questions can be asked about is Che Adams. Both these players have the undoubted quality and are not getting the game time they want at their Premiership clubs, therefore if the above questions can be positively answered then Forest would have excellent options upfront.

Southampton Striker Che Adams

Another option and the perhaps more realistic one is for someone that can do a job as a clear second choice striker who understands Grabban is the main man. They won’t have the same quality as Gayle or Adams but be of sufficient quality to take some of the pressure off him. Lukas Jutkiewicz is someone that falls into this category and would give Forest a different sort of striker to Grabban. Glenn Murray is another name being mentioned, but will there be any substance to these rumours?

A 3rd option would be to look at Youngsters from the premier league, with Eddie Nketiah a name that stands out. He has been on loan at Leeds from Arsenal and impressed when appeared but has found game time-limited and the loan cut short. The 20-year-old is said to be wanted by a host of clubs and the Reds are ranked as second favourites to capture him with Sky Bet (3/1), behind Bristol City (5/2).

Leeds United loanee Eddie Nketiah

Rhian Brewster from Liverpool would be another good option. Forest are said to have been eyeing up promising Chelsea youngster Billy Gilmour. According to London Football News, the Reds and Championship rivals Leeds “have been tracking the best players in Chelsea’s development side, for which Gilmour has caught the eye since being signed from Glasgow Rangers”. Forest do have their own youngsters including one who has done well on loan in League 1 and 2 in Tyler Walker. If Forest fail to bring in their number 1 targets then Walker has to be considered.

Tyler Walker has had several loans across the football leagues

Lyle Taylor has been in fine form for Charlton since their return to the Championship, bagging five goals in his seven appearances so far this season. Taylor’s contract at Charlton expires at the end of the season, and the Addicks are hoping they can convince their star striker to remain at the club to fend off interest from elsewhere. Forest are joined by Premier League trio Burnley, Sheffield United and Norwich City to show an interest in the striker, along with Championship duo Brentford and Bristol City.

Forest are set to rekindle their interest in long-term transfer target Lawrence Shankland, according to reports. The Reds were extensively linked with the striker in the summer before he joined Dundee United.

Given that Forest’s Owner Evangelos Marinakis also owns Olympiacos there is bound to be speculation of business between the two clubs. Belgian striker Hugo Cuypers the 22-year-old is on loan at French second division club Ajaccio from Olympiacos. According to Greek media outlet SDNA, the Reds have been impressed by the Under-19 international’s blistering start to the French league season, and are considering a move in January.

Olympiacos Striker Hugo Cuypers

A player linked with a move in the opposite direction is Joao Carvalho, Forest’s record signing was a key player under previous manager Aitor Karanka providing many assists and the odd goal and became a fans favourite. Since Karanka’s departure, he has not been the same player, bar one outstanding performance against Middlesbrough. Martin O’Neil and Sabri Lamouchi have both opted to play 3 deeper midfielders with no room for a proper number 10 such as Carvalho. This has led to speculation that the reds will cash in, however, they should keep their record signing as he still has massive potential and not forgetting he missed all of pre-season which is massively important.

Joao Carvalho has been linked with a move away from Forest