Nottingham Forest boosted their play-off hopes after defeating Huddersfield Town by three goals to one at the City Ground on Sunday afternoon.
The Reds were left frustrated after throwing away a 1-0 lead in stoppage-time against Sheffield Wednesday last week, but there was to be no frustration for Sabri Lamouchi and his side on Sunday.
Goals either side of half-time from Lewis Grabban – the striker’s 18th and 19th goal of the campaign – fired Forest into a 2-0 lead, with the 32-year-old producing two fantastic, composed finishes.
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Ryan Yates secured the three points with a third goal on 85 minutes, heading home at the front-post from a Joe Lolley corner, before Karlan Grant netted a consolation from 12 yards in the 97th minute.
Town were reduced to 10 men just before Grant’s penalty when Juninho Bacuna let his frustration get the better of him, as he swiped out at Nuno da Costa from behind before being given his marching orders.
A job well done for Forest, then, as Lamouchi’s side moved up to fourth in the Championship table, ahead of some vital fixtures against Bristol City, Derby County, Fulham, Preston and Swansea.
Here, we take a look at three things we clearly learnt about Forest after their 3-1 win over the Terriers…
No Sow, no problem
Concerns were rife as, despite being declared fit and available before kick-off, Samba Sow missed out on a place in the squad through injury.
Sow has been a hugely integral player for the Reds since arriving from Dynamo Moscow in the summer, with Forest only being defeated once when the midfielder has been in the side this season.
The 31-year-old has encountered problems with his knee this season, though, being ruled out of action for nearly three months over the course of the season so far.
On Sunday, though, Forest didn’t seem to miss Sow’s tenacity and drive that much, which is undoubtedly a massive confidence boost for Lamouchi, the players and fans alike.
Brennan Johnson put himself about really well indeed, Tiago Silva’s eye for a pass always looked to be threatening, and Ryan Yates made a big impact when coming on at half-time.
Ben Watson was back in the team after missing out last week through injury, and his teammates didn’t looked fazed without the presence of his fellow midfield stalwart in the centre of the park.
Grabban the difference
As has been the case all season long, Lewis Grabban proved to be the difference for Forest as they secured their first home win in four games.
Grabban is often anonymous during games, but the striker always seems to pop up in the right place at the right time, and his goals either side of half-time were key to the victory.
His first goal defined his ruthlessness inside the box, finding space at the back post, moving away from two defenders before emphatically volleying past Jonas Lossl following an exquisite Joe Worrall cross.
Smart link-up play between Grabban and Sammy Ameobi led to their second goal, with the latter threading through a pass which Grabban latched onto and slotted past Lossl with ease.
He’s now scored 19 goals in 38 games this season, surpassing last season’s tally of 17 in 41 with seven league games still to play this term.
A goal every two games shows just how key he has been for Forest this season.
Automatic promotion not out of reach just yet
Sunday’s win takes Forest up to fourth on 64 points, seven behind West Bromwich Albion who have picked up only one point since the return of EFL action.
Of course, securing a top-six finish is by far the most important goal for Forest, and with clashes against Bristol City, Derby, Fulham, Preston and Swansea fast approaching, they cannot afford to rest on their laurels just yet.
But seven points with seven games left to play is not too much of a mountain to climb, and if they keep on producing solid performances and picking up wins, then a real push for the top-two could be on the cards.
They have the experience in their team, they have the squad and they have the goalscorer up top, and as Ryan Yates said after the game, they have every reason to look “ahead” rather than behind them.