Nottingham Forest returned to winning ways in the Sky Bet Championship on Tuesday evening, coming from behind to defeat Coventry City by two goals to one at St. Andrew’s.
It promised to be an important night towards the bottom of the Championship table. Rotherham were set to play Derby County before a waterlogged pitch prevented play from going ahead, and Wycombe took on Birmingham in a 0-0 draw at Adams Park.
A perfect chance for Forest to put daylight between themselves and the relegation zone, then, and an opportunity to also drag Coventry back into the mix.
The night started off badly for Chris Hughton’s side, though. On 17 minutes, Maxime Biamou was allowed to drive inside from the left far too easily, before bending an effort into the bottom corner.
But Forest’s response was excellent, and five minutes later, they were back on level terms. Sammy Ameobi got to the byline, pulling the ball back for Lewis Grabban to fire in from eight yards.
After an impressive end to the first half, Forest picked up where they left off in the second. Cyrus Christie’s dangerous cross from the right caused havoc inside the area, with Michael Rose helpless as he diverted the ball into his own net.
Forest then had backs to the wall, but after a nervy end to proceedings, a remarkable defensive performance culminated in all three points for the Reds.
An invaluable win on the road, then. Here are three things we learnt about the Reds after their victory at St. Andrew’s…
A weight off the shoulders
You would have go back to the 19th of January 2020 to witness the last time Forest came from behind to win a game of football – a 3-1 home win over Luton Town under the tutelage of Sabri Lamouchi.
Of course, now they’ve put an end to that barren run, it isn’t a statistic which Chris Hughton will rejoice over, as he will have been desperate to see his side assert their dominance on games much more often since taking over from the Frenchman.
But you have to commend Forest for the way they did respond to going a goal behind last night. It was a disappointing one to concede, but they rolled their sleeves up, dug in and found a leveller almost immediately after through Grabban.
The conditions and the nature of the game only amplify how big of a win it was, too. It was wet, muddy and cold, but they dug in, battled well and got their just rewards.
On other occasions, Forest may well have shied away and look beaten. On Tuesday night, they had backbone.
Garner makes an impact
Last night saw James Garner make his first appearance for the club, having joined on loan from Manchester United in the latter stages of the January transfer window.
Garner has obviously had a taste of Championship football with Watford this season, but if it wasn’t clear before last night, he proved that he can very much cope with the rigours and demands of the division.
The midfielder made an impact straight away, showing an excellent passing range and helping things to tick over in midfield. A lovely cross-field ball to Anthony Knockaert may have resulted in a second goal shortly after Grabban’s strike, but the winger’s effort found the side netting.
Playing between the thirds and splitting the defence has been a problem for Forest this season, but in Garner, they have a player who can get forward and find options, as well as provide plenty of steel defensively.
It’s evident to see that he has come through the ranks at a club like Manchester United, given his technical ability and calmness on the ball and his fiery nature off it.
Worrall leads from the back
Forest had one man leading from the front in their captain, Lewis Grabban, but the Reds have another commanding figure in their side in Worrall.
Worrall gives his all for the cause on a weekly basis, playing for his boyhood club with pride and leaving everything out on the pitch.
Last night was arguably his most impressive display of the season. He orchestrated a Forest backline which had to deal with the aerial threat of Max Biamou, who brings so much physical prowess and presence to his game.
Coventry put in cross after cross towards the latter stages too, as they desperately tried to find an equaliser.
But Worrall was more than equal to everything the Sky Blues threw at the Reds, and ultimately ended up guiding Forest to a crucial win.
There are cries for Worrall to be given the captain’s armband on a weekly basis, but whether he wears a piece of fabric on his left arm or not, his leadership and dedication is there for all to see.