Nottingham Forest 1-1 Valencia (Friendly) 30.07.22
Steve Cooper’s Nottingham Forest ended their pre-season campaign with an honourable draw against Spanish giants Valencia at Meadow Lane in an entertaining match played in front of over 11,000 spectators.
The Reds will now draw attention to their trip to Newcastle United on Saturday coming and the clubs first Premier League match in 23 years.
A strong side selected by Cooper gave a debut to Jesse Lingard with new signings Moussa Niakhate and Taiwo Awoniyi on the bench.
After his midweek goal against Notts County, the Reds started with Sam Surridge in attack, whilst Valencia, these days Coached by Italian legend Gennaro Gattuso, had recent signing Samu Casillejo, from AC Milan, in their midfield.
It was the Spaniards who had the first attack of the game on five minutes, Portuguese winger Goncalo Guedes racing down the right to shoot low and hard towards the bottom corner with Dean Henderson diving to his left to palm away the danger.
Midway through the half the Reds had their best opportunity to take the lead, a ball over the top by Colback saw Brennan Johnson beat goalkeeper Mamardashvilli to the ball, the Georgian racing out of his goal near the halfway line before scurrying back with the Welsh winger crossing into Surridge who headed against the post from a tight angle.
Valencia though it was, who went ahead before half time, on 42 minutes a ball chipped into the back post by Guedes saw the unmarked Carlos Soler finish neatly hard and low.
A tight second half saw few chances, Valencia neat on the ball, Forest busy in working hard off it, Lewis O’Brien putting plenty of work in perhaps the pick of the bunch. Both he and Neco Williams picking up bookings during the contest.
On 80 minutes a good chance for Valencia to wrap things up was spurned, Soler again on the end of a decent move, shooting low and hard after neat play down the left, this time Henderson kicking away with his feet before the rebound was lashed high, wide and away of danger.
That miss proved costly as Forest hit back, six minutes from time a good interchange of football before McKenna found Awoniyi with a long through pass, the Nigerian running onto the ball to square to Brennan Johnson where he lashed home the leveller completely unmarked.
On 88 minutes an almost carbon copy should even have won Forest the game, Colback this time finding Awoniyi on the left who slid in Johnson who this time shot straight at sub keeper Domenech.
A good workout however for both teams ahead of their season start, whilst La Liga has a fortnight until its kick off, the Reds do battle on Saturday in what will be a momentus occasion for the club, finally back in the Premier League where they feel they belong.
It’s been a long time coming, now the final preparations will be put in place ahead of the match at Newcastle United, another signing announced today will certainly bulk the side’s midfield further more, Orel Mangala joining the club from Stuttgart for an undisclosed fee.
The Belgium international is a box-to-box midfielder very much in the model of Head Coach Steve Cooper’s preferred type.
Nottingham Forest: Henderson, Worrall, Cook, McKenna; Williams, Toffolo; Colback, O’Brien, Lingard (Cafu 77), Johnson, Surridge (Awoniyi 63).
Valencia: Mamardashvili (Domenech 66), Correia (Folquier 72), Musah, Paulista, Guillamon (Koinredi 72), Guedes (Vazquez 83), Soler (Racic 80), Castillejo (Lato 80), Diakhaby, Gaya, Andre (Duro 46).
Venue: Meadow Lane (11,199)
*Main image @NFFC Neco Williams in action against the Spaniards.