Lyle Taylor scored a brace, Chris Hughton secured back-to-back wins for the first time this season, and Nottingham Forest continued to gradually edge up the table. A good day at the office.
The line-up suggested 4-4-2 again, but it was soon apparent Miguel Guerrero was playing slightly behind in Taylor in a 4-4-1-1 formation. And if we were still wondering what kind of player Guerrero was, it soon became clear that he’s no misfit shipped in from Olympiacos to warm the bench.
Hungry for the ball, working hard to link play, neat touches and good awareness, the Spaniard impressed in the role. As Hughton said after the game: “I’m probably more pleased for Guerrero. Lyle is someone who we know and has played games, but Guerrero we don’t know so much about and he is still feeling his way in.”
The problem against Coventry in midweek, which has been evident for months, was the gap between defence and attack with Forest stuggling to impose their game on the opposition. Hughton, in this game at least, addressed that issue — with Jack Colback given more licence to roam, and Samba Sow playing further ahead rather than alongside.
The Reds looked promising in the first 10 minutes, both full-backs getting forwards and linking well with their respective wingers. Sammy Ameobi came close on 15 minutes, with a deflected shot after a corner. And the home side continued to fight.
The breakthrough came on 28 minutes. Anthony Knockaert rescued the ball from the byline on the edge of the box and fed it back to Cyrus Christie, who crossed it to the far post on to the looming head of Taylor.
The goal seemed to give Forest confidence as they continued to attack, finishing the half with 65% possession. The question now was could they continue the second-half in the same vein?
Ryan Yates came on for Sow after the break, who was suffering with a minor hamstring injury, and the dynamic shifted slightly. Wycombe edged back into the game, proof they were no pushover. And with 20 minutes to go, Forest had lost their impetus and looked in need of the second goal.
The visitors’ substitutes combined well on 71 minutes, as Adebayo Akinfenwa headed across goal from former Red Gareth McCleary’s cross — a warning of that slim lead.
And then on 74 minutes, Taylor delivered again. A clever flick from Guerrero released Knockaert on the break. The Frenchman passed to Taylor and, as his return pass popped back into his path, he continued his run past the Wycombe defenders into the box and fired past Ryan Allsop. A rampaging goal that proved the summer signing’s ability to change games — and befitting of his man of the match performance.
Forest were back into life again as the game opened up, with Wycombe chasing, and the home side seeking a third. Harry Arter, on for Guerrero, was denied on 84 minutes with an amazing save from Allsop. And into added time, Arter came close again after missing the rebound from a Knockaert shot.
A very solid win going into the international break, and you could see the confidence coming back into the players. Hughton was keen to stress there were seven games in 22 days when he took over a month ago. We only lost one of those matches. Yes, there’s lots to improve but that’s a massive turnaround from where we were.
Hughton added: “It is a good win. It was a tough game and if there is anybody who doesn’t know this league, all you have to do is look at the results today and last week.
“They are a team that came up that play a very direct style but they are effective in the way they do it. They came into this game having got some good results and I think it showed today.
“We were up against a really tough team, we had to work hard and defend well and wait for those good opportunities. We are delighted in the end as you can’t underestimate the quality of the opposition and how hard you are having to work to get results.
“The only disappointing thing is that at 2-0 up, the game is stretched and they are going for it and I thought we had two or three good opportunities to increase that lead.”