An excellent away performance from Huddersfield Town and an abysmal home performance by Nottingham Forest saw Forest’s unbeaten streak come to an abrupt end yesterday.
Although Nottingham Forest are in much better form, Huddersfield’s performance levels were at an impressive, consistent level, and it was once again reflected in their first half performance.
Huddersfield’s early dominance was rewarded when a clever build-up led to Tommy Smith’s overlap, and his low cross was turned in by a despairing Matt Mills lunge.
After the goal, it seemed to revitalise Forest, but they never really troubled the visitors’ goal in the first half.
The second half was sloppy for Huddersfield and, if Nottingham Forest had any impetus, then they would’ve got back into the game, but it was a moment of brilliance in the second half that put the game to bed.
Philip Billing picked up the ball from 35 yards and fired it into the top corner.
Even after the second goal, and when Dougie Freedman made attacking substitutions, Nottingham Forest still didn’t really trouble Huddersfield and were deservedly beaten.
FootballLeagueWorld writer Elliott Wheat-Bowen identifies THREE things that we learned from yesterday’s contest…
1) Nottingham Forest didn’t turn up
David Wagner’s Terriers could have been deterred after the defeat at Preston North End but, once again, they started the brighter side.
Huddersfield kept possession better than Forest and looked like they could score from every attack.
The bank of three behind Nahki Wells particularly impressed as Karim Matmour, Harry Bunn and particularly Joe Lolley were playing at their best.
Although Wells hadn’t threated Dorus de Vries’ goal, he has this season improved his all round play, and he linked up the attacks excellently in the first half.
The fact that Jed Steer didn’t make a single save and Nottingham Forest didn’t have a single shot on target in the first half reflected how sluggish Freedman’s side were, and the players in red left the pitch to a chorus of boos.
The second half should’ve seen Freedman’s side come out and attack Huddersfield, but the tempo dropped even more and, as the teams tired, Forest struggled.
It is criminal that Nottingham Forest didn’t really attack an extremely vulnerable Huddersfield defence at home.
2) Mancienne and De Vries kept Forest in the game
In a game where there were a lot of anonymous performances for Nottingham Forest, de Vries and Michael Mancienne can hold their heads up high.
The central defender with experience in the Bundesliga has been impressive for Forest in any position that he is deployed in, and yesterday was no different. In the first half, if it wasn’t for Mancienne, then Huddersfield would’ve been three or four goals up.
He made a number of vital last-ditch interceptions, tackles and blocks to keep Forest in the game, and helped cover for Mills who struggled against Huddersfield’s fluent attacking quartet.
De Vries was also impressive for Forest.
Despite conceding two goals, he made some excellent saves that kept Forest in the game in the first half, and kept the score down in the second.
If Forest are going to move on from consolidating in the mid-table and made a move towards the play-off picture, then they have to offer more attacking wise and can not overly rely on defending well.
3) Philip Billing impressed once again
For the second Huddersfield game in a row, both away from home, Billing was excellent for Huddersfield as, despite his age, he dominated the centre of midfield.
This was most likely Huddersfield’s best game off the ball. The gegenpressing mentality instilled by Wagner was most effective against a lethargic Nottingham Forest midfield, and it was Billing and Jonathan Hogg that didn’t allow Nottingham Forest’s midfield to spend time on the ball and set the tone when pressing.
Billing was impressive on the front foot as he was involved in Huddersfield’s attacking movement, as the young midfielder was at the heart of Huddersfield’s best chances and moves.
The young midfielder’s performance moved to another level as he showed his eye for goal, and scored a brilliant thunderbolt from over 30 yards, leaving de Vries with no chance.
Billing could be the key to Huddersfield starting their own unbeaten run with him at the heart of it.
Huddersfield fans… how happy are you with the result? Nottingham Forest fans… do you think Forest deserved to be beaten? Should Dougie Freedman set up differently? Let us know your thoughts and opinions in the comments below!