FOREST BLOG: Reds must use Derby win as a platform for the season

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The Monday morning coffee always seems to taste a little bit better when it comes on the back of a weekend in which your team has sent its local rivals packing.

Nottingham Forest had a seemingly thankless task on Friday evening in attempting to beat a Derby County side that had cost roughly £30 million to assemble.

Their squad on paper looks irresistible - Bradley Johnson, Thomas Ince, goal-machine Chris Martin, the talent is endless.

Friday night’s 1-0 victory, courtesy of a Nelson Oliveira goal, proved that spirit and determination can sometimes override undoubted quality and trump it massively.

I don’t dispute that the Reds squad also has its fair share of quality, but looking at the names on the team sheet and the form of the two sides it really was expected to be a long night for Dougie Freedman’s side.

I don’t think I have seen too many Forest performances in my time that have surprised me as much as Friday. It certainly wasn’t the performance of a group of players who aren’t willing to fight for their manager’s job, that’s for sure.

The improbable victory was thoroughly deserved and from one to 11 the team were excellent throughout and left every ounce they had in them out on the City Ground turf.

David Vaughan was the official man of the match but it could quite easily have gone to nine other players. I will discount goalkeeper Dorus de Vries, who was given the night off by Derby’s star-studded line-up.

Daniel Pinillos did a superb number on Johnny Russell, to further enhance a growing reputation that he is one of the best left-backs Forest have seen in some time, whilst big Chris Martin will probably be glad to see the back of Matt Mills and Jack Hobbs, who barely gave him a sniff all evening.

In the middle of the park Vaughan, Henri Lansbury and Johnny Williams worked superbly as a trio and snuffed out the threat of Johnson, Jeff Hendrick and George Thorne with relative ease.

On paper it seemed as though whoever won the midfield battle would probably win the game, and so it proved.

One interesting stat from the first half was that Welshman Vaughan actually made one less tackle than the entire Rams team put together. The 32-year-old looks in superb nick this season and on current form is a certainty to be on the plane to France 2016, as part of Chris Coleman’s Wales squad.

Last season when the Reds went to the iPro Stadium and handed Stuart Pearce a much needed boost in terms of his position as manager, they went to Fulham four days later and were 3-0 down after 25 minutes.

I really cannot stress the importance that the club now uses this win as a platform for the rest of the season.

Friday night proved that this side is full of determined, hard-working players, and the team need to start showing their qualities in every single game and not just against their local counterparts.

If that Forest XI can beat a quality Derby side, then quite frankly we can give anyone a game on our day, we simply have to show it more often.

Only time will tell just how good this latest victory over the Rams will be and let’s hope it can see us rise back up the Championship table.