Nottingham Forest suffered late heartbreak in South Wales last night, losing 1-0 to Swansea City at the Liberty Stadium.
The Reds have turned a corner of late, and last night was another example of the progress they have made under Chris Hughton despite losing the game – only their second defeat in their last 12 games.
Forest carved out plenty of chances over the course of the 90 minutes, with Anthony Knockaert rattling the crossbar on the stroke of half-time.
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Forest should have broken the deadlock in the second half, too. A swift counter-attack saw them drive forward in numbers, but Lewis Grabban lost possession at the key moment.
The visitors were made to rue those missed chances, as Connor Roberts rose highest to meet Jake Bidwell’s cross and head in at the back stick on 87 minutes. A bitter pill to swallow for Chris Hughton, after witnessing his side produce one of their best performances under his tutelage.
Here, we take a look at three things we clearly learnt about Forest after their 1-0 defeat to Swansea on Wednesday night…
Knockaert at his best
It has taken a while for Forest fans to see the best of Anthony Knockaert since his arrival from Fulham in the summer, but as time has gone by, we have seen the Frenchman return to his best form.
The winger has undeniable quality on the ball, and that is something he displayed last night. His deliveries into the area were as dangerous as ever, and he came close to getting on the scoresheet as he hit the crossbar with a curling effort shortly before the half-time interval.
You feel that his performances will determine whether Forest steer well away from danger this season, and if he can replicate those displays between now and the end of the campaign, Forest should have no trouble in doing so.
Back in November, Forest produced a lacklustre display as they fell to another 1-0 defeat to Swansea, with Roberts finding the net in very similar fashion.
They may have lost to the same scoreline and goalscorer last night, but the difference between those performances were chalk and cheese.
Forest were the better team throughout. They looked solid off the ball and impressive on it, and carved out plenty of chances. Against a Swansea side who are usually so impressive, that is eye-catching.
Rued chances prove costly
For all the chances that Forest managed to create and the progress they have made in the last few month, a lapse in concentration meant that Hughton’s side were to lick their wounds and rue missed opportunities.
Lewis Grabban should have done better at the end of a swift counter-attack, and Knockaert’s crosses into the area needed to be pounced upon.
Swansea weren’t at their best on Wednesday night by any means, but the difference between them and the teams below them, including Forest, is that they can grind out a win from nowhere.
They took advantage of poor defending, and delivered a sucker punch in the dying embers of the contest. That’s all that’s needed sometimes.