Nottingham Forest kicked 2021 off in the best possible way at the weekend, defeating Preston North End by a goal to nil at Deepdale.
The Reds are currently embarking on an unbeaten run of five matches in the Championship, and recorded only their second away win of the season on Saturday.
Lewis Grabban’s second half penalty wrapped up the three points for the Reds, but they were made to work hard for the win after an impressive second half display by the hosts.
Here, we take a look at three things we learnt about Forest after their 1-0 win over Preston North End at Deepdale…
Lack of end product a concern
Forest may have left Deepdale with all three points, but on another day, their lack of quality in front of goal could have punished them.
The Reds failed to carve out any real clear-cut chances throughout, with Anthony Knockaert having arguably their best chance on six minutes, where he fired over from seven yards.
Apart from that, Forest’s lack of cutting edge in the final third cost them. They delivered 23 crosses into the box over the course of the 90 minutes, but only three of those found a Garibaldi shirt.
They had plenty of the ball in the first half, but when they entered the final third, they looked short of confidence and ideas.
This has been a common theme for Chris Hughton’s side, with the manager saying that he will look to address that in the January transfer window.
Samba back to his best
As alluded to before, Preston had plenty of chances to find an opener before Forest found the breakthrough.
Tom Barkhuizen hit the crossbar and had a couple of decent openings, and Ben Davies also hit the woodwork before Grabban found the net.
Forest had Brice Samba to thank, with the goalkeeper producing a string of saves to keep Preston at bay towards the latter stages of the contest.
He got down low to deny Barkhuizen’s close-range header, and also denied Paul Gallagher’s free-kick in stoppage time.
After taking plenty of stick for the goal he conceded at Stoke, he responded with an excellent performance yesterday.
Yates and Sow stand up and be counted again
Saturday saw Ryan Yates and Samba Sow start in midfield once again, with the duo starting to cement themselves as Hughton’s first-choice partnership in the centre of the park.
The pair came up against two tricky customers in Ryan Ledson and Tom Bayliss, and won the majority of the midfield battles.
Yates, in particular, was one of Forest’s standout performers yesterday, breaking up play effectively, and covering every blade of grass.