Thursday, 25 September 2014

Brighton Breezy

Before looking forward to Forest's next Championship match - at home to Brighton and Hove Albion - here's a very quick recap of the 3-1 defeat  - our first of the season - away at Tottenham Hotspur in the Capital One Cup.

Looking at Stuart Pearce's team selection before the match it would be easy to say that he wasn't taking the match seriously. However, to do so would be doing both he and the players he picked a massive disservice. Pearce insisted that he believed whatever team he picked would be capable of winning the match, and indeed as late as 70 minutes into the tie, it seemed that could well be the case.

Spurs dominated possession in the first half but failed to really trouble Forest, who went closest to scoring after Ben Osborn's wonderful run ended with a thumping shot which rattled the crossbar. After the break Forest saw more of the ball and looked totally comfortable against a home team who still boasted a £26m striker in their line-up, and it wasn't a huge surprise when the Reds took the lead.

Some good running by Lars Veldwijk saw him chase down a deflected shot before he looked up and pulled back a great ball into the six-yard box, where d├ębutante Jorge (is it pronounced 'George' or 'Hor-gay?') Grant was waiting to sweep it home.

This stung Spurs into a response, but it took a wonder-strike from their substitute Ryan Mason to level the scores. As the inexperienced Forest team tired, Spurs went ahead through aforementioned £26m man Roberto Soldado before Harry '3 Points' Kane wrapped up the points victory with a late goal. Pearce's pragmatism was totally vindicated as the team he sent out did him, themselves and the club proud.

So it's back to the bread and butter of the League, and Saturday's helping of Lurpak-covered Hovis sees an opportunity to avenge last season's last-day loss against Brighton and Hove Albion back on Trentside. That victory saw the Seagulls swoop into the final playoff place at the expense of premature pitch invaders Reading, before succumbing to eventual runners-up Derby.

Brighton's indifferent start to the season under new manager Sami Hyypia might suggest something of a playoff hangover, though they did progress to the fourth round of the Capital One Cup this week with a comfortable away win at Burton Albion. Still, as with any team in this division, Forest would be foolish to take their challenge lightly. Craig Mackail-Smith and recent signings Sam Baldock and Chris O'Grady suggest they're capable of scoring goals; whilst long-term loanees Gary Gardner and Joao Teixeira are impressive names in midfield. This won't be a walk in the park - far from it.

However, for Forest the likes of Britt Assombalonga, Michail Antonio and Michael Mancienne should have benefited from their midweek rest whilst Andy Reid and Jack Hunt may be back in contention, though this match has probably come too soon for Matt Fryatt and Jack Hobbs. Presuming Fryatt is still injured, it wouldn't be a surprise to see Forest persisting with their 4-5-1 formation with the likes of Lansbury and Reid getting forward in support of lone-striker Assombalonga.

The Championship table is now starting to take shape. If Forest's more established players can consistently display the passion and commitment that their replacements did against Tottenham, then they've got every chance of remaining near the top.

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