OPINION: Losing run must end for Nottingham Forest at Wigan
Gary Brazil tasted defeat at the City Ground for the first time on Saturday and now his Forest side must pick up their first away point if they are to avoid relegation.
Despite having lost his 100 percent home record and clocking up a third defeat on the bounce, I have every faith in the temporary manager and his assistant.
Saturday’s reversal against high flying Sheffield Wednesday was a close-run thing, but the Yorkshire outfit can thank the referee for allowing them to finish with a full complement of players.
Andy Madley failed to send off Keiren Westwood after he wiped out Ben Brereton, who looked odds on to score.
It was an absolute game changer; Ross McCormack missed the spot kick and Wednesday were in front just a minute later.
Given the league positions of the two sides it was hard to find a telling difference between them. Both set up with a 4-4-2 formation and had a host of proven strikers from which to pick.
Ben Brereton once again proved that he is an exceptional talent and fully deserved his man of the match award.
When you consider that £9 million Jordan Rhodes was overshadowed by the youngster it makes you wonder what Brereton will be worth in a year or two.
Another youngster who caught my eye was Jordan Smith; he had a flawless debut and backed up my claim I made at the start of this season.
After we let De Vries go to Celtic, I said that we’d always had a steady flow of keepers within the club itself, and that is wasn’t necessary to look elsewhere.
My only complaint about Saturday’s team selection was regarding the centre of midfield, I thought it was strange to pair up David Vaughan and Ben Osborn.
Both are extremely industrious without possessing the ability to provide that killer pass for the forward line. Vaughan is an out and out holding midfielder but Osborn is somewhere in between.
Personally, I’d have partnered Zach Clough with Vaughan, something that might have provided more goal scoring opportunities. As it transpired, Osborn had quite a poor game and was off the mark regarding his passing.
Sheffield Wednesday’s first goal was nigh on unstoppable but the second can only be described as avoidable, Fernando Forestieri was allowed too much time and space to put the Owls further ahead.
Both Dani Pinillos and Danny Fox failed to close down the Italian as he juggled the ball in the air.
Fox is of course deputising for the likes of Hobbs, Mills and Mancienne but you shouldn’t allow anybody to score in such a manner.
That said, both Fox and Joe Worrall coped well against the experienced Wednesday forward line for most the game.
A player that is taking many by surprise is Mustapha Carayol, although his appearances are mainly from the bench. He’s certainly made an impact when called upon of late, especially Saturday, where he gave Jack Hunt a torrid time for the final quarter of the game.
Credit to Gary Brazil again for this because the majority of the supporters, myself included had written him off.
Another bold statement by the temporary gaffer, having already had the foresight to pick Ben Brereton. Carayol was part of double subsitution just minutes before Forest scored, Britt Assombalonga entered the fray with him at the expense of Ross McCormack and Jamie Ward.
Despite my earlier criticism of Ben Osborn, he was on hand to score from close range after tremendous work by Brereton to keep the ball alive on the touchline.
With half an hour remaining I expected a bit of an onslaught by Forest but it never seemed to happen. As I previously stated, I put this down to the midfield selection and its lack of offensive qualities. The away side looked adept at soaking up whatever we could muster in the form of an attack, in that way that play-off contenders do so well.
It once again goes to prove that there is no outstanding football team in this division, you’ll always stand a chance if you play to your strengths and are willing to compete.
The exact reason Philippe Montanier failed so miserably!
Wigan Athletic away is a massive game for both clubs next week, a game that we must not lose. Just like Carrow Road, it’s not been a particularly successful venue for Forest in recent years.
Amazing to think that the Latics were a non-league club, the season that Nottingham Forest became champions of England.
Times have changed and empires have fallen since those crazy days of the late 1970s - football is a great leveller, it must be said.
However, we are more than capable of taking a point or even three at the DW stadium next Saturday.
Defeat is not an option, but despite our recent results, I’ve seen enough from Brazil and Lester to know that we can do it.