Nottingham Forest returned to winning ways in the Sky Bet Championship on Tuesday night, coming from behind to defeat Coventry City by two goals to one at St. Andrew’s.
Max Biamou put the Sky Blues into an early lead, before a Lewis Grabban strike and an own goal secured an impressive turnaround for the Reds.
After a lacklustre weekend display against Barnsley, Forest went about hitting the ground running and starting strongly on this wet Tuesday evening.
There was a debut for James Garner, who picked out Anthony Knockaert with an excellent switch. Knockaert’s cute flick freed Cyrus Christie down the right, and the full-back’s cross across the face of goal was inches away from Lewis Grabban’s boot. A bright start.
But after a largely positive opening 10 minutes, Coventry began to assert their dominance on the game and subsequently found an early opener.
Max Biamou – picked out by Callum O’Hare on the left flank – was allowed to drive inside far too easily, profiting from a Christie slip before finding the bottom corner on 17 minutes.
But Forest – who have gone a goal down in 13 of their 22 league games under Chris Hughton – found an almost immediate response.
A good, powering run by Sammy Ameobi down the left-hand side resulted in the winger pulling the ball back across goal for Grabban to slam home from eight yards. 1-1 on 21 minutes, and an excellent reaction from the visitors.
With the wind firmly in their sails, Forest looked to double their lead. Two corners in quick succession caused chaos for the Coventry defence, with the third resulting in Garner darting to the front post and flicking an effort just over the crossbar.
Forest continued to push forward as the rain continued to worsen at St. Andrew’s. The wet surface sent Leo Ostigard clattering into Garner on halfway, leaving the impressive debutant in a heap. Thankfully, he was back up on his feet soon after.
Anthony Knockaert was the next to cause problems, with the tricky winger turning Sam McCallum inside out, dancing his way into the penalty area before firing into the side netting.
This was a much-improved display from Hughton’s side, though, and they went into the half-time interval with their tails up in the air.
A change was made by the Reds at the interval, with the lively Ameobi picking up an injury shortly before the whistle, and Luke Freeman coming on in his place. Two changes for the hosts, too, with Julien Dacosta and Michael Rose replacing Josh Pask and Ben Sheaf.
City did start the second half with some purpose. Gustavo Hamer forced Brice Samba into a low save with a powerful drive, but the latter was equal to it.
And on 53 minutes, Forest took the lead. Christie’s overlap down the right culminated in the full-back delivering a dangerous ball into the box. With Grabban lurking, Michael Rose could only bundle the ball into his own net amid pressure from the Reds’ forward. 2-1 to Forest, and an impressive turnaround.
It was Forest’s turn to try and defend the lead, then, but the visitors showed little signs of danger in the final third.
Instead, Garner bent an effort just wide of the post shortly after, after clever play from Knockaert out wide.
On 70 minutes, Hughton replaced Cafu with the returning Jack Colback, as they looked to add fresh legs and shore things up in the middle of the park. Mark Robins also threw on Amadou Bakayoko for Victor Gyokeres, in an attempt to add a bit of inspiration in the final third.
Dacosta, a half-time substitute, showed plenty of presence down the right flank upon his introduction to the game, before firing in a cross which Callum O’Hare fired narrowly wide from.
With a quarter of an hour remaining, goalscorer Grabban was replaced by Glenn Murray. A chance for the experienced forward to make an instant impact, having penned a short-term deal from Brighton on Deadline Day.
There was soon to be another opportunity for Hamer to test Samba from the distance, but his volley was placed just over the crossbar from the edge of the area as the game began to stretch.
Murray nearly pounced onto an inviting cross from the right on 83 minutes, shortly before Hughton looked to solidify things even further with the introduction of Tyler Blackett. The defender replacing Filip Krovinovic, as Coventry looked to find a leveller.
This change saw Forest switch to a back three, as Hughton urged his side to combat Dacosta’s powerful runs and get Gaetan Bong to double up on the wing-back with Blackett.
As five minutes were added on at the end of the half, there was big concern as Amadou Bakayoko found himself on the receiving end of Samba’s punch, as the goalkeeper came out to clear the danger. The striker left the pitch on a stretcher, after receiving treatment for nearly 10 minutes.
Despite that late concern, Coventry powered on, but were unable to find that late equaliser.
Forest holding onto an invaluable win, coming from behind to win a game for the first time in over a year. An excellent response to going a goal down, before standing up and dealing with Coventry’s threat in the second half.
Chris Hughton will be hoping for more of the same on Saturday afternoon, against Wycombe Wanderers.