Nottingham Forest fell to their sixth defeat of the season on Saturday afternoon, as the Reds lost 2-0 to Barnsley at Oakwell.
Two back-to-back wins before the international break had raised spirits amongst the dressing room, with Chris Hughton’s tenure getting off to a sound start.
But they fell to their second defeat under Hughton at the weekend, with two late goals securing another win for Valerien Ismael’s side.
Barnsley – who hit the woodwork three times over the course of the ninety minutes – found an opener on 85 minutes. Callum Styles firing in a ferocious effort from 25 yards.
Cauley Woodrow converted from close-range only moments later, too, following good work by Callum Brittain out wide.
Here, we take a look at three things we clearly learnt about Forest after their 2-0 defeat at Oakwell…
Clinical edge needed
Forest had plenty of chances to grab an opening goal before Barnsley went and broke the deadlock.
The hosts had goalkeeper Jack Walton to thank, with the shot-stopper pulling off a fine save to deny Lyle Taylor’s glancing header.
Miguel Angel Guerrero, though, was guilty of squandering two glorious opportunities in the first-half, after being played through on goal.
On the stroke of half-time, the Spaniard was played through by Joe Lolley, but his first-time curling effort lacked conviction and was easily held by Walton.
Away games are tough with or without fans, and when chances come your way, you have got to take them, especially in tight affairs like yesterday.
Hughton won’t be forced into making changes
The EFL have allowed teams to name nine substitutes on the bench, with sides now allowed to make five subs in one game.
Barnsley made full use of the new rule yesterday, making five changes in the second-half as Ismael looked to freshen his side up and find a late goal – they duly did so.
Forest, meanwhile, made only one sub, with Luke Freeman replacing Guerrero on 73 minutes.
Forest were on top for large parts of the second-half, and as Hughton said post-match, changes didn’t need to be made for the sake of it.
If the weekend is anything to go by, Hughton won’t be forced into making changes for the sake of it, even with these new rules.
Vital next five games
Forest remain 20th in the Sky Bet Championship table, 10 points off the play-off places, and you get the feeling that their next five matches could already be season-defining.
They face second-placed AFC Bournemouth on Tuesday night, before hosting Swansea City (4th) and Watford (5th) in quick succession.
Tough away trips to sixth-placed Reading and league leaders Norwich are then on the horizon, so if they cannot put a run of form together, then there’s every chance that the gap will extend by a lot.
If Forest want to ignite a play-off push, then picking up results in the next five games will be key.