Nottingham Forest’s first game of the 2020/21 campaign ended in defeat, with the Reds losing 1-0 to Barnsley in the first round of the Carabao Cup at Oakwell.
Forest will have been looking to begin their season on a positive note by progressing to the second round, whilst also building momentum heading into their league campaign which begins in less than a week.
It was to be a frustrating afternoon at Oakwell for Sabri Lamouchi’s side, however, with Cauley Woodrow’s close-range effort shortly after half-time proving to be the difference.
Quiz: Do you what club these 9 ex-Nottingham Forest academy graduates are at now?
Fielding a side which included new signings Fouad Bachirou and Tyler Blackett, Sabri Lamouchi would be left frustrated at Forest’s lack of creativity, with the Reds registering only one shot on target throughout.
In the end, an impressive start to the second half for Barnsley saw Gerhard Struber’s side take full advantage, taking the lead early on in the half and looking comfortable from there on.
Lamouchi, then, will undoubtedly be looking for improvements from his side as they prepare to take on Queens Park Rangers in their first league game of the season this coming weekend.
Here, we take a look at three things we learnt about Forest after their defeat at Oakwell…
Jordan Gabriel throws his hat into the ring
Following the departure of Matty Cash to Aston Villa in midweek, there have been plenty of questions regarding the vacant right-back position and who could potentially replace the 23-year-old.
Tendayi Darikwa and Carl Jenkinson are currently the club’s two senior options, but at the weekend, young full-back Jordan Gabriel was given 90 minutes to show Lamouchi what he’s all about.
Gabriel – who made his Forest debut in a brief cameo against Arsenal last season – made his first start for the Reds at the weekend, on the back of impressing on loan at Scunthorpe United last term.
It was a solid display from the right-back, who was arguably a shout for Forest’s man of the match award despite a frustrating defeat.
Gabriel went about hitting the ground running. With only 15 seconds on the clock, the defender received the ball out wide from Nuno da Costa, before breaking into the area with his pace and strength.
After clever footwork and adjustment, the 21-year-old fired a shot just wide of Jack Walton’s goal, with that piece of action very much typifying Gabriel’s overall performance at the weekend.
Gabriel showed plenty of attacking presence going forward. He looks very physically strong, he’s quick on the ball and he isn’t afraid to get forward – much like Cash in more ways than one.
He didn’t have much to do defensively, and that side of the game is only going to improve with regular game time under his belt, but he’s certainly thrown his hat into the ring in the hunt for Cash’s replacement.
Carvalho shows glimpses of quality
Carvalho was given a rare starting appearance by Lamouchi at the weekend – only the 12th time he has done so under the Frenchman’s stewardship.
Post-match, Lamouchi revealed that Carvalho had impressed him in pre-season, and after a positive display, it was clear to see why.
Carvalho’s fitness looked to be rather impressive given the short recovery time between last season and this season, although granted, he didn’t feature too much towards the latter stages of last term.
The club’s record-signing displayed real energy, real tenacity and real strength on the ball, as Forest looked to press Barnsley at every opportunity particularly in the first half.
In the second half, a sauntering run past a Barnsley defender down the line showed just how dangerous he can be when he has a pre-season under his belt.
He was taken off on the hour mark and was replaced by Lyle Taylor as Lamouchi looked to go more direct going forward, which could hint at a potential start against QPR next week.
Patience is needed
Defeats in football are disappointing, make no bones about it, and no matter what competition your side is playing in, it isn’t nice to see them lose by any means.
After the full-time whistle on Saturday, Forest fans, as they always do, voiced their opinions on social media, with many slamming the manager and his tactics as they fell to a lacklustre defeat.
Fans will have their opinions, and they are only likely to get louder as the season goes on, but it will take time for Forest to get back to full fitness, and for their new signings to settle in and gel.
They have had an incredibly short amount of time to get prepared for the new season compared to normal for obvious reasons, and although this was by no means the ideal start, things can only improve as fitness builds.