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83% dribble success: Middlesbrough’s loss currently appears to be Nottingham Forest’s gain

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Nottingham Forest fans will take encouragement from what have been a much more positive couple of weeks under a new managerial regime.

Steve Cooper took to the City Ground dugout for the first time on Saturday afternoon, walking out of the tunnel and receiving a raucous reception from the home fans.

The Welshman watched his side come from behind to earn a more than deserved point against Millwall, presenting the new Head Coach with plenty of food for thought going forward.

Forest have yielded four points from their last two games, and will go into away trips to Barnsley and Birmingham with confidence.

The Reds, as they did in the win at Huddersfield, deployed a 3-4-3 formation on Saturday, and whilst the result wasn’t as enjoyable, the performance whetted the appetite for many.

It was Max Lowe who grabbed an equaliser for Forest right after half-time – a fortuitous one, with his cross looping over Bartosz Bialkowski’s head and into the net via the woodwork. Nevertheless, it was just rewards for an impressive couple of displays since arriving on loan from Sheffield United.

But his opposite wing-back, Djed Spence, caught even more headlines at the weekend.

Spence’s name rang out over the PA system on 80 minutes, having been named the sponsor’s man-of-the-match after a fine individual display.

On another day, he may have registered his first assist in Garibaldi colours, A marauding down the right culminated in a cross into the area, but Lewis Grabban was unable to guide his effort beyond Bialkowski from point-blank range.

Grabban’s injury shortly after ended up knocking Forest off their stride following a bright start, but Millwall’s involvement in the contest allowed Spence to display both sides of his game.

As our graphic above shows, Spence stood out in his 97 minutes on the pitch.

Millwall displayed plenty of physical prowess in every aspect of the pitch, particularly through Matt Smith who led the line.

Spence’s task, though, was to contain Sheyi Ojo and Ryan Leonard down the right-hand side, winning three of his five defensive duels.

Perhaps a phase of play which summarised the tenacious wing-back’s afternoon came in the second half. Millwall looked to break swiftly from a Forest corner which was cleared, but Spence went on a lung-busting run and managed to keep up, before producing a perfectly-timed slide tackle on halfway.

He made four clearances and made six interceptions, but his strength and power was also useful offensively, too.

Spence embarked on six dribbles and completed five of them successively, whilst finding a teammate successfully 35 times from his 46 passes.

On current evidence, it is hard to understand why Neil Warnock let Spence join a Championship rival on loan during the summer.

He will need to back these performances up over a run of games, but at the moment, their loss looks to be Forest and Cooper’s gain.


Nottingham-based journalist who regularly covers Nottingham Forest home and away.

ScoopDragon Football News Network

Article title: 83% dribble success: Middlesbrough’s loss currently appears to be Nottingham Forest’s gain

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