Nottingham Forest Under-23s’ were unable to make it five wins from five in the Premier League 2 on Friday night, after being held to a 1-1 draw at home to Burnley.
Andy Reid’s men have enjoyed an impressive start to life in the Premier League 2, winning their last four games heading into Friday night’s clash with the Clarets.
But after netting in the first minute of second-half stoppage time through Alex Gibson-Hammond, Burnley found an immediate leveller through Anthony Glennon.
George Harbey was at the City Ground for this one, and he’s noted three talking points on a night where fans had their first glimpse of two new first-team players in action…
Ojeda and Drager feature
The night presented an opportunity for Braian Ojeda and Mohamed Dräger to pull on a Garibaldi shirt for the first time, albeit for the Under-23s’.
The pair, who arrived from Olimpia and Olympiacos on deadline day respectively, have been unable to feature in the first-team yet having had to undergo a period of self-isolating after representing Paraguay and Tunisia on international duty.
Dräger will look to provide competition at right wing-back under Steve Cooper, and showed his willingness to run in behind and show plenty of physicals presence offensively.
His crosses lacked quality on a couple of occasions, but that should improve with match sharpness, and his pace and physicality should whet the appetite amongst supporters.
Ojeda, meanwhile, showed signs of an agile midfielder who is gifted on the ball, and someone who can play a range of passes over various distances.
That was displayed in the first half, when he turned away from two Burnley players and played a 30-yard diagonal switch to Dräger without really breaking a sweat.
Again, the final bit of quality was lacking at times, but his tenacity and willingness to press should make him a useful asset alongside either Ryan Yates or James Garner.
The pair were withdrawn on 80 minutes, as they continue to build their fitness and push for a first-team push once the international break has been and gone.
Fornah hasn’t really been given a chance to impress in the first-team just yet. The midfielder spent last season on loan in League One with Plymouth, and was a key player for the Pilgrims under Ryan Lowe.
He has shown glimpses of his ability in two Carabao Cup appearances against Bradford City and Wolves, receiving the man-of-the-match award against the former.
But in the Championship, he has played only five minutes of football this term. If he keeps producing performances like tonight, then he may give Cooper another option to consider in midfield.
Forest’s formation when in possession saw Fornah sit in front of the two centre-backs, pushing Ojeda on and receiving the ball from deep.
This is a role which Fornah took up at Plymouth and one he also took up in the Carabao Cup, and it’s one he does very well indeed.
At every goal kick, Fornah would always ask for the ball, always look for space and always look to keep things ticking over in midfield.
His passing range was impressive, playing an array of short and long passes, and his power means he anchor the midfield on his own which allows a more technical player like Ojeda to push on and press.
With his contract up in the summer, this is something which the club will surely have an eye on.
Defence stands firm
Nicky Hogarth arrived at Forest in the summer, joining from Rangers having emerged through the ranks over in Glasgow.
He may only be 20 years of age, but the Scot imposes himself well aerially, and impressed with his shot-stopping abilities.
He got down low in the second half to deny Finlay Armstrong from finding the bottom corner, and made a few other decent saves.
In front of him were Baba Fernandes and Sam Sanders, with the former having impressed in pre-season under Chris Hughton.
Fernandes’ pace and physicality makes him a match for anyone he comes up against, but his ability to drive forward with the ball is also something which caught the eye on Trentside.
He formed a solid wall down the right alongside Dräger which made for an impressive partnership.
Burnley’s late leveller was preventable, of course, but it was a largely solid display from Reid’s men.
This wasn’t to be their fourth clean sheet in a row, but with performances like tonight, it is no wonder why they boast one of the best records in the division defensively.