Nottingham Forest 2-0 Sheffield Wednesday (EFL Championship) 15.12.20
Nottingham Forest finally secured a much needed win, as they stopped their rot with a 2-0 win against fellow strugglers Sheffield Wednesday at the City Ground.
A Yuri Ribeiro belter, after four minutes and a welcomed goal for the returning Lewis Grabban, with four minutes left, set up Chris Hughton’s side to take all three points from what was already being called a relegation six pointer.
Tony Pulis will be frustrated that for much of the possession and neat play his side produced, the visitors were unable to mount any serious attacking threat at any moment during the game.
Forest started the game like a team determined to show that they have no intention of staying where their current league position has them. Their unconventional playmaker, Cafu, picked up the ball wide right and sent a pacey ball past all those inside the area. Everyone in the box watched the ball dirft to the far left corner of the area, to be met by the left foot of Yuri Ribeiro. Forest’s number five drove his effort into Wednesday’s ‘keeper Joe Wildsmith’s far left post and the Reds took an early lead -the first time they’ve led in a game since their 2-1 win against Wycombe on the 7th November.
It was the home side that dominated the affair, in the game’s early stages. On only his second appearance of the season, 18 year-old Alex Mighten looked lovely early on as he tried to take on his opposite man every time he got the ball to his feet. After a mazy run, the teenager was chopped down by Chey Dunkley, 20 yards from goal. The responsibility fell to Forest’s leading scorer Lyle Taylor. The frontman, who’d just received lengthy treatment after a nasty looking knock, blazed his effort well over Wildsmith’s crossbar.
After a slow start, Tony Pulis’ side began to grow into precedings. The away side seemed to be playing keep ball, stringing together a number of passes; leaving Forest chasing their shadows searching for a touch of the ball. Their neat play saw Josh Windass race through into the Forest penalty area but Reds captain Joe Worrall’s sliding challenge prevented any meaningful or threatening chance developing.
From Worrall’s challenge Wednesday won themselves a corner, which was commandingly dealt with by the Red’s questionable goalkeeper, Brice Samba. Samba caught the corner and immediately released Sammy Ameobi as Forest looked to quickly launch a counter attack. Ameobi jinked his way past a number of tackles and curled a delightful ball for the on running Cafu to sweep under the body of Joe Wildsmith and into the back of the net. Before any real celebrations could begin, the linesman raised his flag, with Cafu rather obviously in an offside position.
The first half seemed to dwindle out, it was Cafu again at the heart of all Forest’s attacking threat. The bustling Portuguese playmaker wonderfully released Cyrus Christie, who’d made the overlapping run. The Ireland international looked to pick out Taylor in the middle but Forest’s top-scorer missed the ball completely. The man of the hour Yuri Ribeiro was on hand to keep the ball alive, feeding it into the path of Lyle Taylor yet again. His goal bound effort was cleared off the line by Chey Dunkley.
With five minutes to go until the break it was a nervy moment for those in red. Wednesday’s diminutive conductor, Barry Bannan, produced an excellent curling cross. The Owls’ lone striker Josh Windass managed to get a glancing header on the ball and with Samba rooted to the spot, it was hearts in mouths time as Adam Reach attempted to apply the finishing touch. Somehow the ball evaded the former Middlesbrough man and Forest, for the first time in over a month, took a lead into half time.
The second half appeared to start in the same way as the first, with Forest on top. Cafu again was the instigator for the Reds, as the ex Olympiacos man found a really, good precise through ball for the full back Christie. The right back’s ball wasn’t as precise though – the ball was just too far behind the forward run of Lyle Taylor and just a little too much in front of Forest winger Alex Mighten.
Sammy Ameobi, who stood out for much of the encounter, was next to try his luck, this time from 25-yards out. Really neat interpassing play saw the ever impressive Cafu lay off the ball perfectly for the advancing Ameobi. The Red’s number 11 hit a well struck, low effort but Wednesday’s ‘keeper Wildsmith got down well to keep it out.
Another positive moment for Forest saw the prolific Lewis Grabban return to action, replacing the injured Lyle Taylor with 15 minutes left to go. Forest’s top goalscorer from the last two seasons had missed the last 11 games with a hip injury and now Reds boss Chris Hughton will be hoping the former Bournemouth and Norwich striker can quickly find himself back among the goals, now he’s back in action.
And that is exactly what Lewis Grabban did. After Sammy Ameobi spiralled a ball towards the Wednesday penalty area, Grabban beat Tom Lees to the punch and smashed the ball hard and low past Wildsmith, for his first goal of the season.
A goal on his return would have been exactly what Grabban and Forest craves, as well as a win. And a win they got.
The Reds head to Millwall on Saturday hoping to build on their first win in eight. As for the away side, they now sit seven points from safety with Coventry to visit Hillsborough on Saturday.
Nottingham Forest: Samba, Christie, Worrall, Mbe Soh, Ribeiro, Sow, Yates, Cafu, Mighten (Lolley 89), Ameobi, Taylor (Grabban 76).
Sheffield Wednesday: Wildsmith, Odubajo, Lees, Dunkley, van Aken (Rhodes 81), Reach, Harris (Paterson 55), Pelupessy, Shaw (Hunt 75), Bannan, Windass (Brown 75).
Venue: City Ground
*Article provided by Joe Freeman (Nottingham Forest Correspondent).
*Main image @NFFC Lewis Grabban scores on his reds return following injury.