Brice Samba played a huge hand in Nottingham Forest digging in for a hard-earned point at home to Luton Town on Tuesday evening.
The Reds had to battle on a man down after Jack Colback was sent off for a second bookable offence just after the hour mark. What made matters worse was that second offence resulted in a penalty with Tom Lockyer hauled down at a corner kick.
Samba produced an excellent save with his feet from Elijah Adebayo’s spot kick and made a terrific reflex stop late on to keep Forest in the game. The draw means Forest are still on an incredible run of six wins, five draws and just one defeat since Chris Hughton’s departure.
Cooper waxed lyrical about Samba’s performance and his attitude around the club when he spoke to The Athletic.
He said: “There were unbelievable individual moments from our goalkeeper, there was good tactical composure in defending our box and we had heart and soul. I expect those things, but when you see them, you have to give credit where it was due.
“Brice’s contribution was massive. It is like a striker scoring the winning goal when he makes those saves. Saving a penalty is brilliant but the one at the end looked unbelievable. He got a big round of applause in the dressing room, there is a lot of respect for him. He is a talented keeper and a really good guy.
“He is working really well with the coaches, he engages in the analysis work we do. He speaks well in meetings and the dressing room. He should be proud. The life of a keeper is one of ups and downs and this was a real up for him. But we want more of that.”
Samba was dropped for Ethan Horvath in the final match of Hughton’s reign but has firmly commanded his first choice position ever since and will want to continue that form as we move towards the busy Christmas period.
The 27-year-old experienced the pain of Forest’s final game heartbreak in missing out on the play-offs in 2019/20 and will want to make amends for that this term.
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Samba has been a crucial cog of Forest’s rearguard action ever since signing from Caen in 2019.
The Reds travel to third placed West Bromwich Albion on Friday evening with the opportunity to show just how far they have come under Cooper through the Sky Sports camera lens. The Baggies have won just once in their last five outings and that was an unconvincing 1-0 victory over Hull City at The Hawthorns, if Forest are to bridge the current five point gap between themselves and the play-off places they need to capitalise on their current five game unbeaten run.