Nottingham Forest recorded their first clean sheet in the Championship since April 16th; which in turn complemented a first away win of the season.
Things couldn’t have started any better; It took just 17 seconds for Britt Assombalonga to break free of his marker and fire low into the bottom right hand corner of the Ipswich net. If ever there was a day for good omens, this was it!
Under fire Forest boss, Philippe Montanier must have been elated at the timing of the goal, whilst many the supporters frantically googled the quickest on record by a Forest player.
Having not subjected myself to trawling the internet for such facts, I’ll take the word of most supporters who’ve said that Jack Lester’s 14 second opener is the winner!
Regardless of the stats, it was the perfect platform on which to record such a victory.
In all fairness to the Reds, they continued to build on their early lead and almost went further ahead through Kasami on 16 minutes.
The Swiss midfielder saw his low strike tipped around the post from the edge of the area. Forest continued to build on their early momentum and were bossing the game.
At this point I should say that Ipswich were absolutely shocking, but you can only beat the teams that are put in front of you.
That said; the Tractor Boys should have equalised in the 29th minute through David McGoldrick.
The former Forest player did everything right until he dispatched a shot following a jinking run into the box. Had the Notts born striker planted his shot into the bottom corner like Britt, he would certainly have punished his former employers.
But that is the tangible difference between true class and a half decent striker. I’m chuffed that McGoldrick has proved himself to be a worthy threat since leaving the City Ground though, he was ridiculed by Forest fans but has since gone on to establish himself in the same division.
He even featured for The Republic of Ireland against England last year.
As the half progressed Ipswich began to improve without really threatening the Forest defence, the back three of Mills, Perquis and Worrall looked comfortable and well organised. Joe Worrall showed that his excellent start to first team football is certainly not beginners luck as he once again applied himself very competently.
Then the unthinkable happened; Forest broke and scored a second just before the break. What impressed me about this goal was the input of Britt Assombalonga and Matt Mills. Assombalonga whipped in a cross from the left flank and didn’t hang around to admire it, he then darted into the box for a share of the spoils, as all good strikers would do. As the ball ricocheted around the penalty area Matt Mills showed great composure for a centre half; he produced a couple of excellent touches before playing in Eric Lichaj. The American’s ball into the box wasn’t dealt with by the home side and Mills was unchallenged as he headed the ball into the path of Assombalonga for an easy second goal.
As expected, the second period saw the withdrawal of Daniel Pinillos, who started his first game for almost a year.
The Spaniard put a very solid performance and could be a major factor in whether Montanier can turn things around and secure his position at the club. Pinillos was replaced by Michael Mancienne, who was also making a comeback of sorts for Forest. This of course followed the swap of Assombalonga for Vellios minutes earlier, hearts were in the mouths of Forest fans everywhere as they feared the worst for our record signing. Fear not though; the man with the big cheeky grin is fit and well!
The away side nearly put the game to bed just minutes later when Pajtim Kasami’s shot cannoned of the upright, the flood gates would have surely opened had it gone in.
Mick McCarthy must have been livid by the way his side defended, especially Luke Chambers who looked a shadow of the player he once was. Ipswich were indeed there for the taking but I will take nothing away from Forest, they did what they had to do and performed very well in the process.
The Sky Sports roadshow continues next Friday away at Barnsley; another three points will instil much needed confidence for the following two games against Newcastle and Derby.
It remains to be seen whether this result is indeed the turning point for Nottingham Forest under Montanier, or just a flash in the pan. My gut instinct is the latter but I would love to be proven wrong!